Stop baboon killings, urge conservationists

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peter the baboon Supplied Authorities euthanised this male baboon, Peter, last week.

Cape Town - Baboon conservationists have initiated a legal process to halt the euthanising of any more baboons on the Cape Peninsula, pending a full public review of the practice and the scientific reasoning behind it.

Their lawyer has sent a letter to the three authorities legally responsible for managing the baboons – SANParks, City of Cape Town and CapeNature – calling on them to immediately stop killing the animals and to provide detailed information about how and why the June 2011 “Protocol for reducing the frequency and severity of raiding behaviour by Chacma baboons of the Cape Peninsula” is being implemented.

“Our client (Baboon Matters Trust) is of the opinion that the protocol, as presently constituted, is unreasonable, irrational, arbitrary and therefore unlawful,” the letter states.

It suggests a high court interdict application may follow.

So far only the City of Cape Town has responded to the letter, and it ducked a direct response to the demand.

In the meantime, the three authorities that operate collectively as the Baboon Technical Team (BTT) are continuing to euthanise male baboons considered to be serial raiders in urban areas, with at least one – “Peter” of the Da Gama Park splinter troop – being put down last week.

There are also unconfirmed reports of two more being killed in the past few days – “blue tag” of Scarborough and “TK9” of Tokai – and a further three, Merlin, Force and Carpenter, have been earmarked for removal.

The three authorities confirmed Peter’s death, saying in a joint statement that his euthanasia was done “to reduce the frequency and severity of raiding behaviour by Chacma baboons on the Peninsula” which is “a threat to human health, terrorises local residents and causes significant damage to homes and property”.

They said: “Management decisions by the authorities regarding raiding baboons are subject to assessment by recognised wildlife management experts and are supported by academic research and elected civic representatives living on the Peninsula.”

The Baboon Matters trust was started by baboon conservationist Jenni Trethowan.

In an open letter last week, Trethowan accused the authorities of turning the protocol “on its head”.

- Cape Argus

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