Yesterday I was returning home from taking one of my students to the hospital at Karatu some two and a half hours away. As usual I stopped at the gated entrance to the Ngorongoro Conservation area to sign in. Having parked in the tourist car clogged parking lot, I got out of the car and began to make my way to the office. Suddenly at some twenty or thirty steps from the car, there was excited shouting behind me. Turning around I saw two adult baboons exiting my car by way of driver side window. I had forgotten to close it on getting out of the car.
The two German Shepherd size animals must have been waiting for some forgetful driver to leave his window open. They found their prey in my lack of attention. The robbers sprang into the car and went right to the back seat where lay a large bunch of bananas. In the twinkling on an eye, they had grabbed their succulent lunch and made off back through the front window.. Fabiola, one of my Maasai girl high school students, just released from the hospital that day after a serious chest infection, was sitting in the front seat and was knocked out of the way by the huge monkeys on there way to harvest our bananas. Fabiola was so shocked and frightened, she just about passed out.
Afterwards, we were able to laugh about the attack. But the invasion could have ended badly with Fabiola bitten and a cell phone or something else taken by the baboons. These attacks have become commonplace at the gate where numerous tourist land rovers stop to pay their entrance fees to Ngorongoro. The tourist think that these wild and often dangerous animals are cute and feed them fruit, getting dangerously close to take their pictures. The baboons have become used to people and try to enter cars to steal whatever they can grab, often a pair of sunglasses, some fruit or any kind of food, sometimes even a camera. We usually keep all the car windows carefully closed, but this time I forgot to do so. We’re lucky that they only took bananas and didn’t bite Fabiola.