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 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.
we had a very successful day!
So many people voiced their concerns!
Kataza was internationally famous