Lorraine Holloway, Baboon Liaison Group South
Let’s face it, the odds are stacked against baboons, a protected species, on the Peninsula due to:
* Poor waste management and lack of baboon proofing which leads to baboons raiding;
* Feeding of baboons which is tantamount to a death sentence for baboons;
* Human induced injuries or death;
* Electrocution on above ground power lines;
* Cars speeding through conservation areas which form part of their home ranges placing them at risk;
* Dogs not contained on properties chasing baboons and rangers in violation of by-laws;
* Intimidation of the baboon rangers in the course of their job on occasion;
* Ongoing urban encroachment thus reducing the extent of baboon home ranges;
* Baboon on baboon conflict causing injuries and even death;
* Offences against baboons are often difficult to prove so prosecutions do not succeed.
Despite these odds, the Smits troop has survived and achieved a very low raiding profile compared with a high raiding history prior to 2012. This can be attributed to good baboon management strategy with minimal use of tools by Human Wildlife Solutions (HWS) who are contracted by the City of Cape Town to manage baboons. The use of tools is approved by the SPCA and Cape Nature with strict protocols attached to their usage in the field.
This success is bitter-sweet as a number of baboons from this troop have been euthanased in terms of the raiding protocols as a consequence of human negligence over the last few years.
Baboon troops have a very hard and unpredictable existence in a rapidly changing world especially dispersing males who leave their natal troop to find a troop to join and have offspring. The male does not always survive this journey.
Both business and residential communities from Simon’s Town through to Plateau Road are therefore asked to consider the odds and act to keep the Smits troop wild, non-raiding and safe on the mountain, not inside the urban edge. Make the Smits troop your troop.
We are privileged to live in this paradise. Let’s do the right thing by our baboons and also support the efforts of our baboon rangers. After all, they are the backbone of baboon management.
It goes without saying that all communities within baboon home ranges should follow suit.
I hope this letter changes some of the views held about baboons. They are a valuable part of our environment and are deserving of our protection and care. Please make use of the hotline by reporting any incidents, suggestions or concerns to the City of Cape Town HWS manned Baboon Hotline 071 588 6540.
For more information on baboons please go to: www.baboons.org.za