Baboon finds rehab females 'quite sexy'

The baboon that went walkabout from his Tokai troop last week and was eventually caught on a building in Claremont, is recovering at a rehabilitation centre in Barrydale.

And reports are that the big male, which apparently left his troop in search of new females, is checking out some of the females at the centre with interest.

Jenni Trethowan of Baboon Matters, who spent two days in the southern suburbs trying unsuccessfully to coax the big male into a cage with offerings of fruit and mealies, said on Monday he was "doing very well" at Barrydale's Centre for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife.

"They've got quite a few baboons there and he's seen some of the girls which he thinks are quite sexy," Trethowan said.

He will spend about 10 days at the centre to allow the deep gash in his leg to heal. No one is sure what caused the wound, but it was already there when an SPCA vet darted him last week. He was treated by the Four Ways vet after capture.

"It was a very big, deep wound that needed quite a lot of stitches. It was felt that if he had gone back out into the wild straight away the stitches would probably have popped, so that's why he was taken to the Barrydale to give it a chance to heal," Trethowan said.

A question mark hangs over his future. Trethowan said the decision about releasing the baboon would probably have to be made by Table Mountain National Park.

"At this stage it looks as if he will probably go back to his troop in Tokai. I'm hoping he will be allowed to go elsewhere, perhaps to the troop at Miller's Point. He had already left his Tokai troop twice. Researchers at UCT will make recommendations to National Park, but I think ultimately the park will have to make the decision."

The baboon is a "dispersing male". When baboons reach sexual maturity they leave their troop in search of females from elsewhere to breed with, nature's way of preventing inbreeding.

Baboons on the Peninsula are highly unlikely to be able to join troops in the mountains across the Cape Flats, as they have little hope of surviving the extensive urban development between the two mountain ranges. The authorities are reluctant to release baboons from the Peninsula elsewhere because it is thought these baboons may be genetically different.

Table Mountain National Park was not available for comment on Monday.