Cape’s baboon plan gets the nod

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IOL nov 13  Baboons DONE

INLSA

FILE PHOTO: A large baboon male sits on the road in the sun in Tokai Forest, meters in front of the anti-baboon fence, complete with an electrified wiring at the top. PICTURE: THOMAS HOLDER

Cape Town - The three authorities responsible for managing baboons on the Peninsula - City of Cape Town, CapeNature and SA National Parks - have reached consensus on major issues, including that baboons must be entirely excluded from urban areas.

Ways of doing this could include electric fencing around urban areas, based on the model of Zwaanswyk Road in Tokai where residents paid R1.3 million to erect a fence.

In a process due to start in February, all communities affected by baboons will be asked to help the authorities develop a “road map” plan for managing these animals that would be unique to their specific areas.

However, there will be some “non-negotiables”, including the putting down of baboons considered a threat to people’s health and safety.

This was revealed on Monday at an all-day Baboon Welfare Meeting, requested by the SPCA.

Baboon activists and conservation group Baboon Matters Trust complained that the authorities would not supply information they required to be able to monitor the effectiveness - which they’re contesting - of the management strategy, which includes the use of “aversion” techniques such as paintball guns and bear-bangers, and putting the animals down.

The meeting was told that the monthly reports by the service provider, Human Wildlife Services, would be placed on the city’s website, and that the full results of the 2012 baboon population census being carried out for the city would be made available by mid-January.

Isabel Wentzel, of the NSPCA, said the meeting, which was marked by heated exchanges and accusations, had been held to find ways of protecting the baboons from people and that “a lot of positives” had been established from both sides.

“There must be open communication. Fighting one another is not going to help the baboons,” she said.

Brett Glasby, head of the wildlife unit of the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, said aversion techniques such as paintball guns were working and were “a mild pain to prevent a worse pain”. Saying he’d had the terrible experience of watching a baboon left paralysed after being shot, he added: “I’d rather have seen him with a little bruise on his rump.”

Jenni Trethowan, of the Baboon Matters Trust, queried the numbers of baboons killed - the trust’s figures were higher - and said when the group requested information from the authorities, they’d been told to use the Promotion of Access to Information Act. “For the past three years, any request for the demographics has been completely stonewalled.”

Trust chairman Simon Jamieson believed the lack of information had caused a lack of trust between groups.

John Green of Tokai, who chairs the Baboon Liaison Group representing civic and ratepayer organisations in the South Peninsula, said the new protocol had “fundamentally” changed the way the baboons were managed. “To my mind, [aversion techniques] are justified totally.”

john.yeld@inl.co.za

Cape Argus


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