Stop Killing Baboons!

by Baboon Matters Trust
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Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Stop Killing Baboons!
Kataza walking the streets of suburbia
Kataza walking the streets of suburbia

2020 has been an extraordinary year with the impacts of the Corona virus being felt globally and nationally. In baboon related issues, I had expected the impacts of the lockdown to have been felt primarily in fund raising, as a result of the associated economic downturn, yet it seems that during the lockdown there was an increase in both baboon activity and associated conflict.

 

I had hoped that with more people at home and able to attend to issues that there is not normally time for, such as baboon proofing, that there would be a significant reduction in time in village and conflicts, however, it was the very opposite of what I had expected.

 

What we experienced in Kommetjie, and this was also reported in other areas, was that as a direct result of the lockdown there was an increase of baboons in the village, there was also an increase in the number of injuries suffered by baboons, as well as attacks on baboon by dogs.  It must be noted that the increase in conflict was not due to any change in the management who continued to operate as usual. It will be interesting to unpack  the triggers which led to the increase of conflicts.

 

 

“Kataza, Kataza”

Kataza unwittingly became the most famous baboon in the world (literally!) after he was relocated from his home troop of  Slangkop to Tokai.  The decision to move Kataza was so bizarrely illogical that Baboon Matters launched the #BringKatazaBack campaign, a campaign that had unprecedented traction resulting in;

  • Legal action – Ryno Engelbrecht made a high court application against 5 respondents of whom only the City of Cape Town defended the action.
  • Massive mobilization of the general public who wrote many hundreds of emails, and over 350 residents protested to have Kataza returned. 

o   A determined group of woman, dubbed “The Angels”, watched over Kataza for 84 days. The authorities had thought that the public would tire of the story and “move on” but the volunteer group refused to stand down and worked in shifts from sunrise to sunset every day -  they made sure Kataza stayed alive whilst we fought for his return.

  • There was incredible national and international media attention to the story.

o   Kataza featured in press and television from UK, USA, and around the globe.

  • We had meetings with Alderman Purchase and two subsequent meetings with Mayor Plato and his Mayco members.

o   At our specific request, Mayor Plato has directed Alderman Nieuwoudt to set up a task team to resolve long outstanding baboon management issues.

We are waiting for feedback in respect of the task team.

 

As a result of the immense public pressure, the City of Cape Town reached agreement with Ryno Engelbrecht and Kataza was subsequently returned to his Slangkop troop last week. Currently Kataza is in close proximity to the troop but has not fully reintegrated.

The success of this instance is that the huge following Baboon Matters has gained over the years was used to pressurize the authorities to change the bad initial decision; we have now had successful meetings with the Mayor and Mayco and will continue to push for a task team to resolve the on-going management problems.

 

Workshop to review and revise the baboon management Protocols and Guidelines.

In July 2019, Baboon Matters wrote a moratorium to decision makers on the Baboon Technical, and followed this up with direct letters to the heads of Cape Nature, CoCT Biodiversity and TMNP; our suggestions for a workshop to review and revise the management guidelines were ignored. However,  through the Wildlife and Animal Protection Forum SA (WAPFSA) we wrote to Minister Bredell and he subsequently instructed Cape Nature to host the necessary workshop.

  • The workshop is still to happen, but we had an initial meeting on 13 November 2020 and are hopeful that progressive steps will be taken to make the changes so urgently needed to better manage and protect baboons in the Western Cape.

 

Rock Water Life.

Professor Lesley Green has published her book Rock Water Life in which chapter 5 is focused on baboon management.  It is fantastic to have this incredible support and I urge you all to read this profound book.

 

Education and outreach.

We have continued to create short, educational and awareness videos which enjoy a very high viewership and our social media campaigns reach in excess of hundreds of thousands of viewers.

 

Our mass clean-up project along Slangkop  was a great success and literally tons of rubbish and litter were taken off the mountainside by residents who did a fantastic job. The on-going dumping of builder rubble and car tyres needs to be addressed by CoCT Solid Waste and we will be pushing them to install barriers that prevent access to dumping rubbish off the mountain.

 

Welfare of baboons.

We have been able to assist in numerous instances where baboons have been injured or orphaned and were able to assist when the Dept of Social Welfare contacted BM to assist with a case where a young baboon had been taken from her mother by displaced children; the children were taken into care and the baboon back to her troop.

 

This year we had clear plans in place for fundraising through production of a shopping bag (based on the runaway success of the Woolworth bag) and T-shirts. We had printers and a local sewing project lined up – and then lockdown and the huge Kataza campaign dominated all my time and I was unable to finalize the shopping bags..  

We are launching the T-shirts for the Christmas season, but the bags will have to be on hold until I have more time to manage the project.

Mazoe was paintballed at close range.
Mazoe was paintballed at close range.
we had a very successful day!
we had a very successful day!
So many people voiced their concerns!
So many people voiced their concerns!
Kataza was internationally famous
Kataza was internationally famous
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A nervous mother with her newly born infant .
A nervous mother with her newly born infant .

The past six months have been the most unusual time in recent global history, with the Corona virus and subsequent lockdowns affecting us all.

Our Baboon Matters July Newsletter contains the array of issues undertaken by Baboon Matters during this lockdown period. I had thought that it would be a very quiet time and of benefit to the baboons, but we have seen that the very reverese is true.  The baboons have come into increasing conflict with some residents in urban areas and injuries have been high as a result.  In addition, the levels of household waste being dumped inappropriately is an attractant which brings baboons into villages and is a contributing factor in escalating the conflicts.

Please read the July Newsletter for all the details of our efforts to improve the guidelines and ethical decsions that impact the lives of baboons in South Africa.

Thank you for all your on-going support, there is so much to be done and we know that the baboons depend on our efforts to ensure better managmenet decisons  in the future.

The link to our newsletter is contained below, I hope you enjoy reading it!



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The first quarter of 2020 has been dominated by two events of baboon management on the Cape peninsula, as well as increased baboon human interactions along the Garden Route of the Western Cape.

Baboon Matters has flagged the impacts on the current management methods since they were implemented in 2010; we advised that lethal methods of management (by way of removing individual "problem baboons") would not solve long term areas of conflict.  In the case of the Misty Cliffs / Scarborough troop our warnings went unheeded and the result was that a small troop of 18 baboons was reduced to just 6 baboons by June 2019 (being 3 adult females each with a juvenile).  By 2020 there were just 4 of the troop left and the small group had taken to living within the villages of Scarborough and Misty Cliffs.

The management guidelines (the Protocol for Raiding baboons) dictates that baboons who incur "too many raids", time in the village or who "enter occupied houses" can be killed.  This meant that the remaining four baboons would be killed in terms of the protocol.  However, in face of strong residential objections, options of relocation, an electric fence around the village or the return of the baboons to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve would be preferred.

Unfortunately the village did not choose the option of an electric fence, and the baboons chose not to return to the CGHNR despite conitnued efforts by management to push them into the reserve.  At a public meeing on 1 November 2019 the local ward counsellor made it clear that the debates and negotiations were over and that options facing the 4 baboons were now reduced to relocation or to be killed.

In the ensuing months a wildlife rehabilitation center (Riverside Wildlife Rehabilitation and Educational Centre) offered to take the 4 baboons and so at the end of February plans were implemented and the baboons were captured and transported to the Riverside centre where they are now in quarantine and will soon be released into a semi-wild enclsoure until they can join another troop and be released to a safe site.

Scarborough residents are devastated at the loss of the baboons and indeed it is a very sad situation that management decsions led to the demise of a troop and there are no longer baboons living in that range.

Management decsions have also impacted the Slangkop troop of baboons and the village of Kommetjie; for the past three years the Slangkop troop was kept away from their historical home range as it is a very difficult range to manage the baboons in. But after on-going issues whereby local youth were hunting and harassing both the baboons and the field staff, the decision was made to bring the baboons back to Slangkop Mountain.  In the ensuing weeks there have been escalated issues as there is no water on the mountain for the baboons and the lack of commuity awareness has meant that baboons have quickly adapted to finding easy, rich food rewards within the village.

The two management decsions have illustrated, again, the need for a comprehensive management plan that includes by-laws, education and effective waste management - without these critical factors management will always be reactionary and repetitive and it is the baboons who pay the price with their lives as they continue to be killed in terms of the guidelines.

Baboon Matters is desperately under funded and under resourced and we are battling to help provide information to new areas who are experiencing baboon interactiosn as well as deal with the the impacts of the fall out of management on the Cape peninsula.  We are struggling to get to all the areas where we are needed and to help both people and baboons so that conflicts are reduced with minimal damage to property and loss of baboon lives.

The current global crisis has put many people into economic vulnerability and the knock of effect of that means that even less attention is placed on wildlife or wildlife management issues.

Baboon Matters will continue to help baboons but desperately need the assistance of all our followers and supporters and hope that together we can continue to advocate for better management systems that help us behave as better neighbours on our small, crisis racked planet.

Baboons are chased using paintballs
Baboons are chased using paintballs
For today, be kind.
For today, be kind.
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REPORT TO GLOBAL GIVING 2019

Baboon Matters Trust thanks the all of our generous supporters who have enabled the Trust to maintain a very directed and visible approach to on-going concerns regarding management of the closed baboon population groups of the Cape peninsula, as well as baboons over South Africa.

In addition to advocacy and collaboration we have also directly enabled baboons to get veterinary care, ensured orphaned baboons were taken to places of safety and provided education to interest groups, schools, farmers and other urban areas.

2019 has been an exceptionally busy year with on-going efforts in the Cape peninsula and we have continued to hold pine plantations accountable to the on-going slaughter of baboons in the Sabie region and continue to provide guidance and education to areas impacted by increasing baboon interactions. 

 

Successes of 2019  

The main success of 2019 has been the establishment of inclusive community liaison and Baboon Matters has liaised with a variety of groups such as Prime Crew, CARE, Bambelela, Wild Rescue, Baboons of the South, the Far South Peninsula Community Forum, the newly established Wildlife Forum of SA, Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay baboon action groups and the Primates of SA group.

All the groups share concerns that the lethal method of management are not addressing core issues that cause baboons to seek opportunistic food rewards in human areas. It is productive to be working collaboratively with a wide range of groups on key issues and the united appeal for a moratorium and workshop does seem to be gaining support. We are lobbying role players within the CoCT to call a workshop to discuss areas of concern but recognize that the notion of a moratorium is a point of conflict between the civic groups and BTT.

It has been gratifying to note that specific aspects raised by BM have been incorporated into current management (albeit with no recognition to BM input)

  • We have been actively pushing for by-laws in baboon affected areas and after a lot of effort it seems that draft by-laws supplied by BM are currently being considered. We have noted that public participation in this process is inadequate. 
  • We suggested the use of a designated member(s) of staff to deal with specific areas where on-going poor waste management is an attractant that actively draws baboons into those areas and the service provider now has a community liaison manager who attempts to get the “problem” areas to implement better strategies. This will be more effective if the by-law is in place and businesses and residents could be fined. 
  • Our concerns about impact of on-going fires on the vegetation as well as water points have been noted whereas they were previously, actively, denied. 
  • Our education and visual material has been extremely well received, specifically the first two educational videos about baboons have collectively had over 60 000 views. 
  • Through my on-going time in the field I was able to ensure that:
  •  four badly injured baboons received appropriate veterinary care; a snare was removed from a female baboon in Tokai; cases of mange received treatment, counts in two troops have been questioned (it appears that two female baboons have “disappeared” from Plateau Road troop and there is a discrepancy about the total number of male baboons in southern managed troops).
  • Baboons in Kathu were euthanased after being held in poor conditions, a badly injured juvenile in Bains Kloof was euthanased after a vehicle knocked him over and a male baboon at Du Toits tunnel was euthanased after being hit by a vehicle. In all cases the baboons would normally have been left to suffer however the relevant authorities were willing to spend time to ensure the baboons were humanely dispatched.

Limited success in 2019.

Without doubt the exclusion of Baboon Matters from selected management has proved to be impactful. In addition:

  • It is apparent that there is a lack of interest in finding mitigation strategies that could provide long term relief from damage caused by baboons whereas the current strategies and methodology of gathering empirical data are not solution oriented.
  • Funding has been extremely difficult this year; this is partially due to the overall funding climate for animal welfare groups but is also due to the fact that I am not able to spend enough time on fund raising.
  • Lack of effective veterinary care is an ongoing issue and it is cause for distress that baboons who should get immediate care are left to suffer as they are “monitored”. It cannot escape attention that often the injured male baboons “hide” within the urban edge and are then classified as “problem raiding“ baboons only to be killed for this “behaviour”. •
  • We have liaised specifically with groups to direct very specific letters to the three main role players and pine plantation owners of Sabie in efforts to engage and reduce the ongoing slaughter of baboons. Regrettably the companies merely defer to FSA and FSA sends requests and objections back to the individual companies. The primate groups will have to engage at a higher level and we will have to approach FSC and the National Minister of Environment , Minister Creesey in 2020.

 

Reactionary management vs Comprehensive management plan.

The plight of the remaining four Scarborough baboons has clearly illustrated the deep mistrust from the public toward the BTT and has highlighted the lack of a comprehensive management plan in favour of reactionary management tactics. As an example of the lack of a comprehensive management plan:

  • Whilst use of electric fencing is endorsed as the most effective baboon management strategy there is no “official regulation” defining the installation or maintenance of such baboon proof fencing. As an example, when a vineyard spent hundreds of thousands of rand installing an electric fence he could argue that mitigation had been complied with, even although the fence was ineffective in terms of baboons. 
  • Of concern is that there is huge public pressure as a result of the four Scarborough baboons and in response the CoCT is considering installation of an electric fence around Scarborough; the question that must be asked is should this be a priority fence? Or would money be better spent containing the light industrial area where a troop of over 40 baboons regularly cross an extremely busy road to gain food rewards from food factories?

A management plan and priority list would address this and other issues.

 

Cape peninsula baboon population

The annual census has revealed the impact of the on-going killing of males and the figures indicate a huge skew in male to female ratio; whereas a healthy male to female ratio should be 1:3 we can see that some troops have ratios as high as 1:17.

Also of concern is the lack of sub-adults and high ratio of juveniles. When one considers that the numbers of adult baboons is not increasing significantly, one has to question what is happening to the juveniles, many of whom do not appear to be reaching adulthood. In healthy populations it is anticipated that approximately 40% of infants and juveniles may not reach adulthood; in these closed populations the percentage of immatures not reaching adulthood appears to be significantly higher yet there is no breakdown of this data.  

Questions asked of members of the BTT t o explain why the aspects of the 2019 reflect such skewed ratios were not explained and the response that we cannot compare managed populations to unmanaged populations is inadequate.

Colleagues with whom I have debated the 2019 census are in agreement that the facts as detailed above, together with the acknowledged lack of genetic diversity, should be sufficient reason to implement a moratorium on killing baboons, yet despite our requests, objections and communications it does seem as if the BTT will not grant a moratorium but will continue business as usual.

 

Going forward

It is clear that Baboon Matters has to re-strategize as there is simply too much work for one person as there is huge need arising from the sharp increase in baboon human conflicts over many areas.

We need a full time assistant to help deal with the myriads of demands on my time; such as calls and messages from the general public and concerned residents, injured baboons, baboons shot or in snares or requests for education and information, training requests; time meeting with community groups, writing appeals or legal requests or time in the field.

The current management strategies do not deal with resolving core issues, but focus on the elimination of individuals. If the systems continue without review there will be no reduction in the conflicts.

The review of management undertaken by Baboon Matters in 2016 and the population trends show that the elimination of baboons is not sustainable; it is not ethical nor morally defensible – and it does not solve long term problems.

We need to change the strategy so that emphasis is placed firstly on reducing and managing attractants successfully and that the use of monitors must be part of a comprehensive management plan – not merely a reactionary force to chase baboons out of urban areas. I am currently busy with a document addressed to local Minister of Environment Bredell, in this document I stress the benefits of job creation, skills development, waste management, recycling and (for example) production of composting material through the removal of organic matter from waste source. A positive outcome from the implementation of the above through a comprehensive management plan would be that effective baboon management would be achievable.

In 2019 we received requests to train monitors in the Northern Cape, Limpopo, Cedarberg, Aughullas and in the Plettenburg region; regrettably in all cases the municipality or conservation organization did not have budget to pay even the most minimal costs of travel and accommodation. Sadly, it is perceived to be simply quicker and cheaper to kill baboons. We have found that providing training at no cost to the municipality was problematic so we need to find a way to ensure the training happens through official systems. I hope that the request to Minister Bredell will help address the need for an integrated approach, including training which could be provided as part of municipal budgets.

Baboon Matters has received an indication that a conservation organization will assist us with the costs to host a primate symposium whereby all SA primate groups can meet and discuss our areas of concern with relevant authorities. We believe that the symposium, together with a specific workshop to address Cape Town’s management strategies will enable effective change in baboon management. Planning this symposium will be one of our top priorities of 2020.

The Baboon Matters Trust thanks everyone who supports, and continues to support our efforts to help baboons and to find long term, sustainable management options.  Baboon Matters is entirely dependent on public funding and support and, with your help, we hope that we will be able to increase out outreach in 2020.

Have a wonderful festive season.

Wahoo! from the baboons.

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The life of a Cape baboon, collared & paintballed.
The life of a Cape baboon, collared & paintballed.

Baboon Matters has been hard pushed to keep up with the increasing need to protect baboons across South Africa. In the wake of devastating fires in the Overstrand Municipality at the start of this year, as well as extreme fires in the Knysna area in 2017 and recurring fires on parts of the Cape peninsula in 2015,2016, 2017 there has been dramatic landscape change compounded by one of the worst droughts in 100 years. In addition to the impact of fire and drought, there is increasing urban and agricultural pressure on land and within these parameters it is not surprising that the interface between humans and baboons is under pressure!

In 2019 we have been liaising closely with other groups and collectively challenged the Baboon Technical Team (comprising City of Cape Town, Cape Nature and Table Mountain National Park) to impelement a moratorium on killing baboons until such time as an inclusive groups can review and revise current management systems through a comprehensive workshop; the goal being to creat a full management plan for the Cape peninsula baboons.

The collective authorities have either ignored the call for a moratorium or delined the reasonable suggestion - but we are continuing to lobby for support so that we can improve the current management through the implementation of by-laws, effective waste management and education.

We have been working hard to find a workable solution for the remaining four Scarborough female baboons and are as frustrated as the many concerned residents and stakeholders who, like us, are not informed of decsions or plans for these isolated and vulnerable baboons.

In Sabie, we have continued to challenge the Baboon Damage Interest Group and Forestry South Africa who hace cancelled planned meetings and refuse to make relevent information available.

It has been a very hard, challenging year with so much to do and very little resources.  I would love to be able to have assistance for the myriad of tasks that lie ahead and thank you for your on-going contributions allowing Baboon Matters to keep helping baboons.

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Baboon Matters Trust

Location: Cape Town, Western Cape Province - South Africa
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Project Leader:
Jennifer Trethowan
Cape Town, Western Cape Province South Africa
$15,921 raised of $35,000 goal
 
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