Herders and goats attacked by baboons in drought-wracked northern Somalia

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Mid ka mid ah xoolo-dhaqatada miyiga Xuddun oo gacanta ku haya dhal uu ka cararay daayeerkii soo weeraray/Faarax Dubbad/Ergo Photo | Herder holds baby baboon left after attacking baboon troop was chased away by people/Faarax Dubbad/Ergo

Radio Ergo 10 January, 2017 SOOL


(ERGO) - Pastoralist families struggling to survive the drought in Somalia’s northern regions are now being plagued by troops of hungry baboons killing their animals and raiding their food stocks.

Baboon attacks over the past two weeks in remote rural parts of Huddun and Lasanod districts in Sool region have forced the herding families to change their normal routine to protect themselves.

Abdirisak Mohamed Aden, a herder in Holhol, about 35 km from Huddun, told Radio Ergo the baboons ate 15 of his goats in the last week of December.  They also attacked and ate six camels belonging to another herder, including some baby camels and others too weak to stand up.

“We were already suffering from the drought and struggling to get food for our children as well as water and pasture for the remaining animals and now these baboons invading our area has added another burden on us,” said Abdirisak.

Over the past three months, Adirizak has lost 235 animals to the drought.

In Somali pastoralist communities it is normally the job of the children and women to look after goats.  But the children cannot defend the livestock from baboons coming in troops of up to 50. Abdirizak has had to abandon his duties of watering the animals and ensuring the family has food in order to guard his 150 remaining goats himself.

The baboons have also been raiding people’s shelters and ransacking their food supplies. Osman Jama Dualle in Gobob-raho village, 45 km from Lasanod, lost most of his stocks.

“The baboons ate several 25 kg sacks of flour, rice and sugar I bought for $42 each from Lasanod last week. They even opened and drank four litres of oil we had,” Osman said.

Families without the traditional underground water reservoirs known as ‘berkeds’ have been storing water in open pits dug in the ground and lined with plastic sheeting. Some have reported that baboons have contaminated the water by getting into the pit to drink and bath.  A barrel of water trucked in to rural areas from Lasanod costs $2 a barrel.

The drought has affected the wildlife as much as the people and their domestic animals. It is thought the fruit trees and other plants and grass that normally provide a large part of the baboons’ diet have dried up. The baboons may be migrating east towards the coastal Bari region which has recently received some rain.

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