Add one baboon and stir well

Down in the Deep South, we give our baboons names. Like George and Jezebel and Kataza. Ah, Kataza. Who among us has not heard of your tales of derring-do? Now you’re in trouble, bru. Try a little derring-don’t next time. If there is a next time.

Kataza was out and about with his extended family near the village of Kommetjie when he was kidnapped. Snatched in mid-forage. Bit rude. Next thing he knew, he was in the relatively larney suburb of Tokai. What the hell, he wondered, scratching his balls and pondering if he hadn’t perhaps eaten one of them magic mushrooms from Scarborough. This was definitely a trippy fucked up scene. Where am I? Where are my people?

His crew, meanwhile, had no idea what the hell just happened. The boss was here one minute and gone the next. Like Gavin Watson, only more honourable.

The kids and wives never received a ransom note because that’s not the way the City of Cape Town’s Human Wildlife Service operates. For a start, they don’t call it kidnapping. They call it “re-homing”. Nice. Makes it sound so much more civilised. I, myself, have been re-homed repeatedly over the years. Times I traded up, times I traded down.

Out here, on the last jumping off point for white people, baboons get rap sheets. Kataza apparently earned a reputation as a bit of a naughty boy. Not as naughty as Jan van Riebeeck, but he was after people’s stuff. Not their land, minerals and women, obviously. But other stuff. Fruit, mainly.

Kataza stopped scratching his balls, sat very still and narrowed his already narrow eyes until they were mere slits in his hairy head. To the casual non-baboon observer, he looked like a baboon asleep. Or a statue of a baboon. But why would anyone build a statue to a baboon? That’s crazy talk, that is.

Kataza reckoned this was definitely trading down. Especially since another troop was watching him from a distance. They weren’t exactly rushing over with gifts of roots and grubs to welcome this weary stranger into their midst. In fact, there was a bit of barking. And not the good kind either. Different accent, for a start. The Tokai massif. He’d heard of them. Liked to think of themselves as badasses because Pollsmoor Prison was their turf. Kataza sniffed derisively and yawned. Bunch of pussies, he thought. Because that’s what the Kommetjie posse thinks about everyone.

What he didn’t know was that UCT ecologist Prof Justin O’Riain had been on the radio telling everyone that he (Kataza) was integrating with the new troop and was even being approached by females. I don’t know if the prof has ever been approached by females, but I know from experience that this is not necessarily a good thing.

The prof said Kataza had, before being snatched, been sneaking off with a bunch of “low-ranking females” and shagging them senseless. Is that so bad? Deserving of rendition? Apply that to men and you’d have to snatch or shoot almost all of us. Low-ranking females are the best.

The City says Kataza has better breeding opportunities where he is now. So … you’re saying you did this for him? Because the Tokai girls are hotter than the Slangkop girls? What the hell, bru? How do you even know this? What kind of study are you doing here?

Whatever it was, Kataza felt uncomfortable. What he didn’t know, because his phone had been charging in the electro-fynbos at the time of his kidnapping, was that good humans had created a Bring Kataza Back page on Facebook where they used the exact same idea he had in his own mind.

“Kataza has been kidnapped from his troop and dumped in hostile territory”. If Kataza had been on Facebook, he would have been thrilled to see this. For a while, anyway. Eventually the adverts, recipes and cat videos would have driven him insane.

Kataza considered heading home, but it seemed a very long way away, although it wasn’t really. A bit of a drive at rush hour, sure, but he’d traded his wheels to the incumbent in return for control of the troop. Unlimited access to the naughty low-rankers in return for a rusty old crock with brake issues? No brainer.

Unlike humans, who heave a sigh of relief when the alpha male leaves the room – or even better, the country – baboons quite like having their alpha dude around. He protects them from enemies like leopards and Sanparks officials. He knows which homes have the best humans – the kind who are one with the universe and don’t believe in, like, locks and closing windows and things.

Meanwhile, Kataza was in a quandary. Although he’d never admit it, he had known from a young age that he would never be a contender in the Best Sense Of Direction competition. Not that this was ever a formal thing. Baboons were meant to instinctively know their way around. Kataza had other instincts. It was a tough call. Get the fuck out of Tokai and risk ending up among predators? If he had ever bothered to watch The Lion King, he would have known that lions have baboons’ backs. There was no one around to tell him hakuna matata, bro.

What you don’t want to do in Cape Town is sit around in the belief that someone will come along and help you. It hardly ever happens to humans, let alone baboons. Kataza didn’t know this. But he should have known that his people rarely send out search parties for missing alpha males either. In the back of his weird baboon brain, he probably knew he was screwed.

But he’s not stupid. He comes from the Deep South and knows in his blood there are good humans and bad humans. One of the good ones is Jenni Trethowan. She came looking for him and found him in Tokai. Jenni speaks baboon with a Kommetjie accent. Kataza knows her. Knows she’s cool. If the anti-baboonists employed by the council would like to shoot anyone, it’s Jenni.

Kataza started following Jenni home but one of them got distracted after finding something to eat, probably Jenni, and things fell apart. Or perhaps he saw Jenni’s car and thought not a fuck am I going home in that.

There was no way the council was putting up with this. Cape Town didn’t get to be the best city in the country by letting things slide. The DA ward councillor for the Deep South promised that Kataza wouldn’t be killed and would be allowed to go home. Just as long as it wasn’t on the last train to Fish Hoek, or he’d definitely get stabbed. Not that trains are a thing any more.

This morning (Wednesday) there were reports that the warriors of the Human Wildlife Service were out there at dawn driving Kataza back to Tokai with all the enthusiasm of Seal Team 6 driving Osama bin Laden into a room with no way out.

There’s a Baboon Hotline you can call if you spot Kataza, but word on the street is that’s akin to putting out a hit. The municipality is heavily stacked with humans. Pretty unfair, but that’s how the planet rolls.

One crocodile, one bullet

Dear CapeNature,

During the December holidays you gave permission to a farmer to shoot a crocodile. Well done. If there is anything this country needs, it’s fewer crocodiles. Any animal with that many teeth is an abomination and deserves to die.

As any decent hunter knows, the best way to conserve nature is to kill it. This allows it to grow back stronger, like fynbos.

It’s possible that you have issued several shoot-on-sight orders for a range of species since then, so you might need reminding of the background to this particular case.

It all started when the Mossel Bay Advertiser received a photo of a farmer in the Albertinia district holding up a dead crocodile. I have never been there. For all I know, crocodile-killing is a Christmas tradition in those parts. Once the lambs have been slaughtered, I imagine that’s pretty much it as far as festivities go.

The media made its usual pestiferous enquiries and discovered that a farmer with a property bordering the Gouritz River had indeed executed the beast. The farmer declined to comment, which is unusual. If it had been me, I’d have made damn sure that news of my heroism spread throughout the world. Or at least as far as Slangrivier. I would expect to be made an honorary member of the Anti-Crocodile League, with full benefits including free cap and beer mug.

You must have been hoping to let dead crocs sleep, but the troublesome reporter demanded to know what the hell was going on. I suppose you had to release a statement, if only to preempt an outcry from the planet-loving crocodile-huggers out there.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, you got an urgent call from a farmer. He wasn’t happy. He said children swimming in the river had seen a crocodile. I have heard tell that children are the next generation, so it’s best we don’t have them eaten by crocodiles. And especially not if they belong to the staff. Certainly can’t have the wildlife murdering our future workforce.

The farmer said the children were traumatised. Were they from England? It seems unlikely that local kids would be overly concerned about seeing a crocodile. I’m sure they’ve seen far worse. Especially in that district. On, like, every Friday night.

Sure, they might have been traumatised if they’d seen the croc in, say, the Spar. But if you were expecting to see a crocodile in this country, you would want to start with the rivers. Most of us know this.

As you pointed out in your statement, the famous bungy jumping bridge is only a short distance away from where the croc was sighted. I’ve always thought that people who bungy jump have a healthy death wish regardless. Some of us would pay good money to see a croc lunge at a bungy jumper as he reached the bottom of his plummet. That’s a proper tourist attraction in my book.

You also said the brute could have endangered lives by going as far as the Gouritz river mouth. Very few people actually live there and I imagine you’d only set up home at the mouth in the hope of a swift and painless death. From what I’ve heard, families go to the Gouritz river mouth to get high while dad kills as many fish as he can before the brandy renders him insensible. The possibility of being savaged by a rogue crocodile would be a bonus.

Oh, wait. He’s not rogue at all. One of your people was quoted as saying, “There is no way this animal could come from a natural population.” At first I thought he meant the reptile had come from another planet inhabited entirely by members of the Crocodylidae family. Was he left behind when the mothership departed? Or was he being picked up when the ship abandoned the mission after seeing what kind of people live in Albertinia?

Then I realised that he meant the croc wasn’t a wild natural-born killer like those murderous hooligans in St Lucia. He had been raised as someone’s pet. It’s quite likely he had a name. Something like Tjaart, probably. No wonder he escaped.

Then came the Soleimani moment. And here, to avoid errors that might creep into the editing process, I quote your statement in full. “After careful review of the circumstances, including the obvious threat to life and limb to humans that the animal posed, as well as the fact that the (current) natural distribution of this species excludes the Western Cape Province, CapeNature granted permission for the landowner to shoot the crocodile.”

Completely understandable. The rugby was on and you couldn’t find anyone prepared to drive out there, dart him and have him transferred to wherever crocodiles would rather be than shot.

Besides, the Western Cape is well-known for opposing the influx of anything that is outside its natural distribution. Yes, Xhosas. I’m looking at you. Not to mention the fact that crocodiles have been around for eighty million years. Talk about overstaying your welcome. White people pale in comparison.

So that was that. The hitman was given the nod and a few hours later, the croc, thinking he heard someone shouting his name, bellied up to a sandbank and lay there with his mouth open, hoping someone would come along and throw a chop into it.

Hang on. It wasn’t a he at all. Well, I’m not going back and changing the gender. There’s enough of that going on in the world as it is. She was 2.5m long. Or, in terms everyone can understand, ten belts, six handbags, four pairs of shoes and two wallets.

You also gave the farmer permission to keep the carcass. He must have been thrilled. Not everyone has a bar with a rum dispenser in a crocodile’s mouth. The trophy will also help keep the trauma fresh in the minds of those idiot children. I just hope they don’t spot something else that scares them. Me, for instance.

Love the last line of your statement. “Members of the public are to contact their local authorities immediately should they find themselves in a similar situation.” Have you tried contacting the local authorities anywhere outside the Western Cape? Good luck with that.

Anyway, it’s great to see CapeNature diversifying. I imagine shooting baboons on the peninsula gets a bit tedious after a while. Nothing like nailing a giant lizard to liven thing up. Have you thought of teaming up with SANParks? I hear it’s open season on cyclists at the moment.

Could be fun.

Kruger Park To Become Las Vegas of South Africa

The Kruger National Park will soon be adding hotel accommodation to its list of attractions. SANParks says the hotels will bring more people to the park and increase revenue to pay for biodiversity projects. However, critics say the hotels will destroy the natural character of a park that has been in existence for over a hundred years.

Boksburg resident Bokkie-Bok van der Bok said he had been coming to the Kruger Park since he was ‘knee-high to a demijohn of Paarl Perlé’.

‘Hotels in the Kruger Park? Are they out of their fukken minds? Look, I have nothing against change. It’s a good thing. But this is what happens when the communists take over.’

Brümhilde Sukscok, a visiting medical student from Schönau im Schwarzwald currently doing her internship with the eminently charming cardiologist, Dr Wouter Basson, said she would stop going to the Kruger Park if hotels were built.

‘How do you think I would feel sleeping on a broken bed in a hot, overpriced rat-infested rondhovel decorated like an East German prison cell while knowing there is a luxury hotel on my doorstep that I can’t afford? Either everybody suffers in the existing accommodation or nobody suffers and we all stay in the hotels. For free.’

Other critics felt it was the wildlife that would suffer most during construction of the hotels.

SANParks chief executive David Mabunda disagrees. ‘Suffering is very 1980s. Who doesn’t love a nice hotel? Maybe the giraffe. But who are we to say? Let’s not be giraffist.’

Pretoria property developer Varkie de Vetket said he supported SANParks ‘one thousand million per cent’.

‘This Mabunda oke sounds alright for a darkie but maybe what we need is a big fat Sol Kerzner thing happening here.’ De Vetket said he would like to see more of the Kruger Park being developed.

‘It’s open space. Wasted. You think the animals appreciate it? Please. Have you ever seen a happy buffalo? This place needs golf courses. Race tracks. It needs casinos. Who wants to go to a game reserve and not stand a chance of walking away with a million bucks? And I don’t mean springbucks either.’

A spokesman for the Sandton Triads said if hotels were going to be built, he saw no reason why processing factories shouldn’t also be built. ‘With factoly we take lhino and erefant horns one time chop chop.’

One regular visitor to the Kruger Park said he would like to see ‘at least five or six shopping malls’ scattered around the reserve.

‘Have you ever tried to buy stuff at a shop in Kruger? Jissus. It’s like shopping in Zimbabwe. The wood is wet. The beer is warm. The frozen meat has been in the fridge since the Ice Age. It’s a helluva thing.’

Mabunda said he had taken the opinions of the public into account and then discarded those that didn’t agree with him.

‘The entire process took – what was it – three minutes? Let’s be honest. People are like sheep. They say they don’t want something, so you give it to them anyway, and then they want to kill you when you try to take it away. Maybe I’m thinking of lions.’

Mabunda gave the assurance that the animals would not be affected by the new development.

‘If they cooperate and hang around the hotels in large numbers, a few lucky ones will be rewarded with a free night. Maybe not a suite, but certainly one of our ground floor rooms.’

He denied rumours that SANParks would start offering drive-by shooting packages for overseas hunters.

‘If anyone is going to kill animals in the Kruger Park, it’s going to be us. Conservation is a dangerous business. There is a huge problem with wildebeest gangs. I can’t confirm or deny anything, but don’t be surprised if there is another one of our “controlled” burns very soon.’

Mabunda said speed traps would continue to operate through the park.

‘Nobody will be exempt. Not even cheetahs. We will also be using tazers to encourage slow-moving animals to pick up the pace. With the new hotels, there will be a lot more people wanting to see some action. Obviously we can’t have game standing in one spot browsing for six hours. And this sleeping during the day will also have to come to an end. A lot of our animals seem to think they are in Mexico.’

Mabunda said SANParks had conducted an extensive visitor survey with a couple from Madrid, and found considerable support for the construction of amphitheatres in which kills could be staged. ‘People come to the Kruger Park for three reasons. To have sex, get motherless drunk and see an animal get killed. In an amphitheatre, we can give them everything. Cheap beer served by topless Ndebele girls, a herd of drugged gemsbok and three or four hungry lionesses. It will be like ancient Rome, without that whole awkward Christian thing.’

Plans to build flyovers to prevent congestion at waterholes are in the pipeline.