Angry Baboons Roll Boulder Onto Hikers, Breaking Their Legs

By Dave Basner

March 14, 2023

Photo: Getty Images

Hiking can be pretty challenging and even risky, but a group of hikers encountered a danger they never could have anticipated. The backpackers were part of an expedition that headed out to some remote mountains in South Africa. On the second day of their journey, they were eating lunch by a cliff when they noticed a group of "agitated and curious" Cape baboons above them. Even though some of the creatures are considered the world's biggest monkeys, weighing 80 pounds and measuring four feet long, the group continued on.

Not long after, the monkeys pushed a 132-pound boulder onto the ledge where some of the hikers were standing, breaking the legs of the three of them. A post on the Western Cape-based Wilderness Search and Rescue detailed what happened. They wrote that the stone "exploded on impact - sending shards of razor-sharp rock 'shrapnel' flying horizontally through the air." The post states, "Three hikers were struck by the lethal shards of rock and suffered broken legs, with one suffering an open leg wound. Another hiker was struck by a piece of rock, and knocked over an exposed edge, but was prevented from falling by a safety rope connected to his harness."

The ordeal didn't end there - more rocks rained down on them from above. The group huddled together to protect themselves and to calm the injured, and sought shelter from the danger. Thankfully, even though cell service was incredibly spotty, a member of the party was able to make an SOS call.

Falling boulder smashes three hikers’ legs • Troop of baboons involved in the rare encounter • A boulder fell 60m –...

Posted by Wilderness Search And Rescue WSAR Western Cape on Monday, February 6, 2023

The injured hikers needed to be airlifted out by a helicopter. They are expected to make a full recovery.

As for the baboons, it is not known if they intentionally pushed the boulders or not, but one primate expert told the Mirror, "Whether they were deliberately throwing the rocks at the hikers or just dislodging them I guess will never be known but that was a lot of rocks to accidentally dislodge. It takes a lot to accidentally dislodge a 60 kilogram boulder." She also noted that baboons "can become easily upset by things they are not used to."

One of the hikers disagrees that it was intentional, saying that they don't "believe that the baboons were acting aggressively." They added, "The area is full of loose rock and debris. It is likely that the rocks were dislodged when the baboons were following us on the ledges above."

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