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
For today, be kind.