Female tourists at Yankari Game Reserve in Bauchi State say the ‘love’ for their handbags by the large population of baboons at the Reserve is worrisome.In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yankari, the female tourists said they were often taken by surprise when the animals “snatch their handbags and flee”.
According to them, the baboons do not discriminate between male and female tourists but they often make the latter their targets.
“The baboons are sharp and fast. They are hardly spotted at close range but once they pounce on you, it is only a matter of seconds and your handbag is gone.
“If you have valuable items in the bag, they are gone; sometimes for good,” Aishatu Baza, a female tourist, lamented.
Another tourist, Amina Aliyu, said the nuisance posed by the baboons had made many female tourists not to relax while in Yankari, defeating the purpose of the visit.
“If you are carrying a bag, you have to keep watching over your shoulders.”
Another tourist, Ngozi Okechukwu, told NAN that she had been warned about the baboons in advance.
“The baboons are bad public relations for Yankari Game Reserve. The management of the reserve should do something about them.”
Other tourists also agreed that the baboons were a menace to visitors.
“Unlike other animals that stay in the reserve’s forest, the baboons mingle with tourists in areas reserved for human beings.
“To make matters worse, they snatch anything of value carried by tourists, especially the ladies.
“You cannot just eat freely, as the animals are fast and can take you by surprise,’’ complained Taiwo Alabi, also a tourist.
Umaru Baba, another tourist, narrated how some baboons swooped on his family while they were eating on a mat.
“We were taken aback because we least expected that the baboons could be that daring. They took away all our snacks.”
NAN gathered that the baboons had on several occasions smashed windscreens of vehicles parked at the park and taken any food item in the cars.
Yohana Namchi, the acting General Manager of Yankari Game Reserve, said the visitors are to blame for the unruly conduct of the animals.
“Right from the beginning, we have been warning tourists against voluntarily giving food items to the baboons but our warnings were never heeded.
“The animals have become used to getting food items from visitors, now they do not wait to be given, but have become proactive.”
The manager confirmed that the animals often targeted women by snatching their handbags and fleeing to tree tops.
Mr. Namchi gave the assurance that steps were being taken to protect visitors, adding that some guards had been placed at designated spots to warn tourists in advance and chase away intruding baboons.
“We sometimes, with permission, eliminate baboons identified to be of age and aggressive to the extent of posing threat to the personal safety of visitors,” he added.