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Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Monday, 23 March 2009

Cape Town to fine baboon feeders

Cape Town baboons
There are estimated to be about 350 baboons in and around Cape Town

Photo-opportunity hunting tourists caught offering food to baboons will face fines, authorities in the South African city of Cape Town have warned.

The monkeys have become increasingly audacious in pursuit of snacks, even snatching bags from passers-by in popular tourist spots.

Officials say offenders could face a fine of up to 1,500 rand ($150; £104) or even six months in jail.

There are estimated to be about 350 Chacma baboons in and around Cape Town.

In a statement on Monday, the city of Cape Town said some tour operators were apparently deliberately baiting the baboons, so tourists can take photos.

'Baboon summit'

"Any tour operator caught doing so can be charged under national conservation legislation," said city official Piet van Zyl, reported AFP news agency.

Map

"We appeal to the public to exercise extreme caution in interacting with baboons. Under no circumstances should they ever feed the animals, and should they do so they can be similarly charged."

In one recent reported case, baboons leapt into the car of some American tourists and began eating their food after they got out of the vehicle to photograph the animals.

Cape Town's baboons are a protected species under South African law but national park rangers have on occasions had to kill the monkeys when they become too aggressive.

City and park authorities are planning a "baboon summit" in the coming weeks to try to come up with other solutions.



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