Concerns mount as Baboons appear in several neighborhoods of Saudi capital

Concerns mount as Baboons appear in several neighborhoods of Saudi capital
The animals are believed to be natives of the western region’s Sarawat Mountains, mostly in the southwestern areas from Taif to Asir and beyond. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 01 July 2021

Concerns mount as Baboons appear in several neighborhoods of Saudi capital

Concerns mount as Baboons appear in several neighborhoods of Saudi capital

MAKKAH: Baboon appearances in several Saudi urban areas have become a concern recently, with sightings of the primates strolling and jumping around deep in the heart of cities. The question is: What next?

In recent days, baboons have appeared in several neighborhoods in the capital city of Riyadh. The animals are believed to be natives of the Western Region’s Sarawat mountains, mostly in the southwestern areas from Taif to Asir and beyond. The sightings in the Central Region, however, are new.

Arab News spoke to Ahmed Al-Bouq, supervisor of the national launch program and the research and breeding centers of the National Center for Wildlife, to understand more about herd migrations and what seems to be the domestication of the wild animals.

“There are two files on the center’s table that will see the light soon. One of them evaluates the size and numbers of the monkey population in the Kingdom, the types of problems they cause, and their locations. This large study will include an experimental application of several solutions in two locations, one of which is within the city and the other in an agricultural area,” he said, adding that the results of the study would be followed by applied work to reduce these problems and that the files would be presented this year.

The other file, he explained, addresses the problems of monkeys in Makkah, the holy sites, Jabal Al-Nour, Al-Adel, Duqm Al-Wabr and Jabal Al-Rahma. It focuses on where they were domesticated, what the size of their population is, and the role of people in increasing their numbers, especially since they are located in historical areas and interact with visitors.

Hamadryas baboons are powerful and aggressive animals, though they will more often than not show their friendlier side when they need food. Officials in the area have warned residents to not feed the animals. The baboons swarm in the hundreds and steal food as a result of direct and indirect human activity, dumping food and remains in public parks. Cooking in undesignated areas has attracted the baboon populations and allowed them to enter cities in search of food.

With the baboons boldly walking into cities and farmlands more often as of late, citizens have erected scarecrows in the shape of wild animals to frighten them off. “They think they have come up with a brilliant and unprecedented idea, but they don’t know that they are dealing with very intelligent animals that can anticipate each move,” said Al-Bouq.

According to Al-Bouq, the center has tried all kinds of techniques for the past three decades to steer the baboons away from city limits, including exposing them to scarecrows and the sounds and scents of predators, but he stressed that they are very intelligent creatures. “These methods may succeed for a short period, but it is very difficult to influence the baboons through such primitive ways in the long term.

“These animals have existed for thousands of years in Arabia and cannot be completely detached from the region,” he said.

Periods of development and economic boom have meant that the baboons’ natural habitat has often been invaded. This continuous sabotage over the course of many years — excessive logging, destruction of forests, and the killing of natural predators such as tigers, hyenas, wolves, and lynxes — led to the rise of the “monkey phenomenon” in different regions of the Kingdom. They began to flee from the natural areas in which they lived to agricultural areas, attacking the livelihood of farmers.

Al-Bouq said that killing the animals was not a viable solution, stressing the important issue of maintaining ecological balance.

Environmental expert Dr. Ali Eshki agrees, also attributing the presence of the monkeys in Saudi cities to “a kind of environmental imbalance.”

Meanwhile, citizens are trying to keep the monkeys away from their homes, farms and children as best they can, which is what Naji Al-Abdali told Arab News, describing the situation as a daily struggle.

“They vandalize the farm in just three hours, overturning years of work cultivating coffee, millet, and barley.”


Human Rights Commission chief and New Zealand Foreign Ministry official hold talks in Riyadh

Human Rights Commission chief and New Zealand Foreign Ministry official hold talks in Riyadh
Updated 26 May 2022

Human Rights Commission chief and New Zealand Foreign Ministry official hold talks in Riyadh

Human Rights Commission chief and New Zealand Foreign Ministry official hold talks in Riyadh

RIYADH: Awwad Al-Awwad, president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, met Jonathan Kerr, the director-general of the Middle East and Africa Department at the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss a number of issues relating to human rights and the development of bilateral cooperation.

Also present at the meeting was Barney Riley, New Zealand’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.


Saudi authorities seize amphetamine pills hidden in plastic beans

Saudi authorities seize amphetamine pills hidden in plastic beans
Updated 26 May 2022

Saudi authorities seize amphetamine pills hidden in plastic beans

Saudi authorities seize amphetamine pills hidden in plastic beans

RIYADH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia foiled an attempt to smuggle thousands of amphetamine pills and arrested two suspects, the General Directorate of Narcotics Control said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Maj. Mohammed Al-Nujaidi said security officials who monitor drug smuggling and distribution networks that target the Kingdom intercepted 403,000 amphetamine tablets. They were found in the possession of a Syrian national and a Saudi citizen in Jeddah, hidden in a shipment of fake plastic bean pods, he added. The two men were referred to the Public Prosecution.

Al-Nujaidi said that the Ministry of Interior’s security forces, in coordination with the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, will continue to work to uncover plots to smuggle narcotics into the Kingdom and arrest those responsible.


US congress delegation hails work of Muslim World League during meeting with its leader

US congress delegation hails work of Muslim World League during meeting with its leader
Updated 26 May 2022

US congress delegation hails work of Muslim World League during meeting with its leader

US congress delegation hails work of Muslim World League during meeting with its leader

RIYADH: A delegation from the US Congress has praised the work of the Muslim World League in promoting common human values and promoting the urgent need for peace in the world. It came during a meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Iss, the MWL’s secretary-general, in Riyadh on Wednesday.

The American delegates included Chris Stewart, a representative from Utah, Lisa McClain, a representative from Michigan, and Guy Reschenthaler, a representative from Pennsylvania, all three of them Republicans. They were accompanied by a number of officials.

(Supplied)

During the meeting, they discussed a number of issues of common interest, and Al-Issa affirmed that the Saudi Arabia represents the unifying spirit of the Islamic world.

The US delegation also hailed the MWL for its leading role in building effective alliances at the national level and between international organizations to consolidate the values of friendship and cooperation among nations and peoples.


DiplomaticQuarter: US Embassy celebrates 80 years of ‘shared history’ with Saudi Arabia

DiplomaticQuarter: US Embassy celebrates 80 years  of ‘shared history’ with Saudi Arabia
Updated 25 May 2022

DiplomaticQuarter: US Embassy celebrates 80 years of ‘shared history’ with Saudi Arabia

DiplomaticQuarter: US Embassy celebrates 80 years  of ‘shared history’ with Saudi Arabia
  • The US Legation opened in Jeddah in 1942. Full diplomatic relations began in 1940 and the US Mission, located in a traditional house in the old city center, was upgraded to the status of an embassy in 1949

RIYADH: The US Embassy in Riyadh has marked the 80th anniversary of the establishment of its first diplomatic presence in Saudi Arabia, highlighting what it described as “eight decades of shared history, strong partnership and united vision” with the Kingdom.

The US Legation opened in Jeddah in 1942. Full diplomatic relations began in 1940 and the US Mission, located in a traditional house in the old city center, was upgraded to the status of an embassy in 1949.

In 1952, the embassy moved to the current consulate general location, which at the time was an isolated, beachfront property to the north of the city.

Along with all other foreign missions, the US Embassy was transferred to Riyadh in 1984. The former embassy compound in Jeddah is now a consulate general in the heart of one of the Middle East’s most dynamic cities.

The theme of this year’s celebration was “Shared History, Strong Partnership and United Vision,” highlighting the enduring foundation of the strategic ties and friendship between the US and Saudi Arabia.

“From the very early days of modern Saudi Arabia, the US, its leaders, its companies and its people supported their Saudi friends on their remarkable journey toward success and prosperity,” the US Embassy in Riyadh said in a statement to Arab News.

“The US-Saudi relationship has naturally evolved over the years. It has grown to encompass trade, culture, education, security, and especially the close ties between the Saudi and American people. What has not changed during the past 80 years is the shared vision that has always guided the cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia in these and many other areas,” it added.

“As Saudi Arabia pursues the ambitious goals of Vision 2030, the US is supporting the Kingdom’s efforts in the same spirit of partnership that has been one of the key pillars of US–Saudi ties. Today, in every field, in every sector, Americans and Saudis are working together, learning together, conducting research together and, more recently, performing together in concerts, films and athletic competitions.”

This engagement translates into $54 billion annually in US-Saudi trade and investment.

American companies have been an integral part of the Vision 2030 economic transformation of Saudi Arabia, while the US and Saudi Arabia also enjoy robust cultural and educational ties.


Saudi Arabia reports 540 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death

Saudi Arabia reports 540 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death
Updated 25 May 2022

Saudi Arabia reports 540 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death

Saudi Arabia reports 540 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death
  • Of the new infections, 146 were recorded in Jeddah, 122 in Riyadh, 50 in Makkah, 38 in Dammam and 32 in Madinah

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia reported 540 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health. As a result, the total number of cases in the Kingdom grew to 764,789.

The authorities also confirmed one new COVID-19-related death, raising the total number of fatalities to 9,135.

Of the new infections, 146 were recorded in Jeddah, 122 in Riyadh, 50 in Makkah, 38 in Dammam and 32 in Madinah. Several other cities recorded fewer than 20 new cases each.

The ministry also announced that 570 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 749,141. It said that 6,513 COVID-19 cases were still active.