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Thursday, May 20, 1999 Published at 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK

World: Africa

Farmers want baboon on the menu

Baboons - farmers say they are pests and could be sold as food

By Greg Barrow in Johannesburg

A group of South African farmers say they are planning to open a baboon abattoir which will produce delicacies from the primate meat.

The farmers, who say the baboons are a pest, want to produce a range of meat products for local consumption and export markets, including baboon salami and tinned baboon meat.

Animal rights groups in South Africa say the project is unacceptable.

The farmers, in the northern town of Warmbaths, also plan to export baboon teeth, nails and hands to the Far East, where they are allegedly used as sexual stimulants.

In many parts of South Africa baboons are viewed as an irritating pest - they steal farmers' crops and maraud over agricultural land.

The planned abattoir has been conceived as a practical way of culling the baboon population and making good use of their carcasses. But animal welfare groups have been quick to attack the project.

They say the culling of the baboons will inflict unnecessary harm and stress on these primates, which are genetically close to human beings and are said to feel basic human emotions such as fear and trauma.

One group has already described the project as ethically, ecologically, economically and scientifically unsound.

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