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.
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.