Spotlight on management of raiding baboons

Dodger, SK7, is the first baboon to be euthanised this year.

Residents called him Dodger, officials knew him as SK7. He was the first baboon to be euthanised this year and his death has been followed by a public appeal from Baboon Matters Trust for a change in the methods the City uses to manage raiding baboons.

The trust was founded in 2001 by Jenni Trethowan and Kathy Kelly, “dedicated to the conservation of baboons in South Africa, and to finding sustainable solutions for our peaceful co-existence”.

A weekend post on the Baboon Matters Facebook page said a review of the baboon monitor programme data since 2013 showed “without a doubt” that removing individual “problem” animals had not solved the raiding problem.

Baboon Matters said the only sustainable solution was to “manage humans, not baboons”. It said human waste encouraged baboons to raid and managing waste better would reduce raiding. Killing baboons, it said, was not the answer.

It noted that the protocol for managing raiding baboons was up for review and anyone who felt the City should change its focus could email Julia Wood, the City’s biodiversity management branch manager, at julia.wood@capetown.gov.za

Ms Wood said Dodger had first shown up in the Da Gama troop home range in October and his attempts to join the Da Gama troop and oust the alpha had been marked by fights. At the beginning of December, he had been trapped, tagged, collared and released at Tokai.

But in the month that followed, said Ms Wood, Dodger had raided 37 times in Tokai, including eight “assertive raids, 20 occupied house raids and one threatening incident”.

An application to euthanise the baboon had been submitted by Human Wildlife Solution, a City baboon management contractor, on behalf of the Baboon Technical Team (BTT) to Cape Nature’s Wildlife Animal Advisory Council. The BTT euthanised the baboon on Monday January 8.

Chairman of the Baboon Liaison Group (BLG) John Green said, due process was followed when euthanising baboons.

“Baboons are managed under very constructive protocols which have been developed with major input from international best practice, informed by primate experts, animal welfare societies such as the SPCA. These protocols are implemented under strict independent wildlife expert supervision under CapeNature,” said Mr Green.

Ms Wood said the City had a responsibility to protect residents and visitors from raiding ba-
boons.

“Chacma baboons form part of the peninsula’s rich biodiversity and play an important role in the Cape floristic region. The current population is growing steadily and is neither endangered nor under threat,” she said.

According to an HWS report from November last year, the baboon population in the four northern troops on the boundary of Tokai and Constantia has risen 39% from , 179, in 2012, to 249 at present. The peninsula’s total baboon population has risen 24% from 354, in 2012, to 440.

Ms Wood said a dedicated group of baboon-interested individuals had worked closely under the umbrella of the BTT and BLG to develop protocols for the management of raiding and dispersing baboons.

Updates to the protocols had been reviewed and discussed at quarterly meetings by more than 150 people who attended BTT and BLG meetings over many years. Their contributions would be included in updated protocols to take effect from next month.

The BTT and BLG includes representatives from Cape Point Conservancy, Chrysalis Academy in Tokai, various councillors, residents’ associations and wine estates from baboon-affected areas.

Ms Wood said should residents wish to become more informed about baboon management they should join their local residents associations.

Ms Wood said raiding and dispersing by young adult male baboons was a natural phenomenon as they chose to leave their troop in search of their own territory and females. But without the protection of a troop, these dispersing males could face threats from humans, their dogs and traffic.

She encouraged residents to baboon-proof their properties to help conserve these animals including waste management and removing all fruit trees and vegetable patches.

* An injured sub-adult male from the Mountain Troop, MT10, was discovered on the Buitenverwachting Estate on Sunday January 14 with paralysis from the waist down. A vet diagnosed a suspect spinal injury and euthanised the animal for humane reasons.

Lone males can be reported to the HWS baboon hotline at 071 588 6540.