Fred, a baboon that lived near Cape Point and was infamous for climbing into occupied cars, especially if food was visible, was caught and killed on Friday.
The baboon was put down because the authorities deemed him aggressive.
His last day was not without drama as local residents fought to save his life, with one man going as far as following the vehicle in which a caged Fred took his last ride.
Documentary filmmaker Joss Lean from Smitswinkel Bay, who had earlier filmed the capture, followed the bakkie from Miller’s Point almost to Alphen Vet in Constantia.
En route he made a call to Dean Ferreira of the Nature Conservation Corporation, the organisation which helped catch Fred, begging for a reprieve but was turned down.
“The vehicle turned around and I thought they might take him back to his home but they stopped at a facility on Ou Kaapseweg and wouldn’t let me through. Then the vet arrived.”
Earlier Jenni Trethowan and other members of Baboon Matters had arrived at Alphen Vet to see if they could help put a stop to Fred’s death.
But SPCA Wildlife Unit supervisor Brett Glasby said that due process had been followed and there was nothing that could be done.
He said the SPCA did not support the killing but were there to make sure it was done humanely.
Glasby said the people driving Fred had panicked when they realised they were being followed and asked the SPCA to escort them.
Trethowan said that Fred had been quite a character at Miller’s Point and confirmed he got into cars. But she said that if a dominant male was taken out of the equation, others would take his place and would emulate his behaviour.
Lynette Johnson, also of Baboon Matters, said she had recently spent several weekends at Miller’s Point trying to stop people feeding baboons.
She said Fred had become aggressive but it was because of the number of people – both locals and visitors – who fed him.
Lean, who has been filming the baboons for several years, said Fred was a critical alpha male. “He looks after the youngsters. Now another alpha male will move in.”
In a statement on behalf of the various baboon groups, the City of Cape Town said the decision to have Fred put down was not taken lightly and not without “extensive discussions between all role players involved”. “This baboon’s aggression levels had recently escalated to the point where the safety of tourists, motorists and other travellers along the road past Smitswinkel Bay was being threatened. In 2010 he physically attacked and injured three people, of which two required medical attention.”
He had even attacked monitors who tried to prevent him from getting into parked cars.