Program launched to tackle baboon menace in Saudi Arabia

Baboons are believed to be natives of the western region’s Sarawat Mountains, mostly in the southwestern areas from Taif to Asir and beyond. (Shutterstock)
Baboons 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 24 January 2022

Program launched to tackle baboon menace in Saudi Arabia

Baboons are believed to be natives of the western region’s Sarawat Mountains, mostly in the southwestern areas from Taif to Asir and beyond. (Shutterstock)
  • According to the center, baboon troops are terrorizing children and parents and damaging agricultural crops

MAKKAH: The National Center for Wildlife has launched a program to assess the damage caused by increasing numbers of baboons in residential and agricultural sites and find appropriate solutions.

NCW is conducting studies to contain the increased number of baboons that are causing severe damage in some areas, particularly in tourist destinations. The center is putting in place integrated plans and awareness campaigns to address the problem of baboons, which threaten highway goers, residential neighborhoods, parks and agricultural terraces.

It said that a balanced presence of baboons in the environment was healthy. The center said that it is not looking to get rid of them at all, as it aims through its program to create an environmental and natural balance.

According to the center, baboon troops are terrorizing children and parents and damaging agricultural crops. Studies confirm that one of the reasons for the increase in their numbers is that passers-by feed them. This phenomenon also causes accumulated waste.

It called on the community to cooperate with the campaign by refraining from feeding the baboons, disposing of waste in their designated areas and not acquiring and raising baboons at home or adopting them in a non-natural environment.

“The monkeys are the number one enemy of all farmers in the region, especially for mango, cocoa, bananas, coffee, corn and fruit trees”, Yahya Masdaf, the owner of a farm in Baish province in southern Saudi Arabia, said.

He said that the number of monkeys is increasing, possibly due to the small number of predators. There are more than 5,000 baboon monkeys in the area.

Baboons attacked the whole of his farm in half an hour while he performed Friday prayers several weeks ago, resulting in damage to all crops without exception.

He explained that this phenomenon has become very harmful and dangerous to people, farms and the livelihood of farmers whose only source of income is crops.

Hamza Al-Ghamdi, spokesman for Rahmah Animal Welfare Association, said there are more than 400,000 baboons in the Kingdom. According to the association’s studies, 65 percent of these baboons do not approach residential areas.

He said that 35 percent of these baboons are accustomed to being fed by humans, which changed their behavior and made them bolder to break into farms on the outskirts of cities and provinces. Al-Ghamdi added that the number of baboons feeding naturally ranges from 10 to 150 per troop.

He called for the education of individuals not to provide food to monkeys and said anyone who feeds monkeys in streets, public places, and parks should be fined.

One possible solution was for farmers to acquire trained guard dogs and to erect a low-volt electric fence at the top of the normal fence to prevent monkeys from breaking into farms. This solution could keep monkeys away without having to kill them.