Baboons are running amok in southwestern Saudi Arabia, where they have a penchant for invading human homes in a search for food. Panic has ensued as Saudis seek ways to deter the pesky primate thieves.
The southwestern mountainous areas of the Arabian Peninsula, such as al-Qura, al-Baha, al-Ta-ef and Abha regions, have seen a spate of baboon hordes invading villages and farms. Local and national government grows concern over human contact with the primates, who can deliver nasty bits and infection, and even kill young children. On African safaris, for example, tour guides regularly carry automatic weapons to defend themselves and tourists from baboon attacks. In Saudi Arabia, the government has responded with awareness campaigns in the southern portion of the country, while residents seek their own methods of defense. Some residents have set traps that give off electric jolts to the ingenious apes.
Typically arriving before dawn, troops of 10 to 20 baboons first raid farmers's crops. Then they proceed to tear open trash bags and also break into houses to steal food. Recently, a pack of baboons unleashed a panic at a girls’ school during an early morning attack. The apes ripped open the girls' school-bags to feast on cookies. Parents are concerned about the transmission of disease by baboons. The Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. recently published a paper that studied the potential of disease transmission between baboons and humans. Among the infectious diseases that are candidates are measles and tuberculosis. See CDC.