Cape Town - The City of Cape Town is expected to make an announcement relating to its controversial urban baboon management programme, after the current contract with the management company comes to an end in June next year.
This also comes amid a proposal made at the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment on Tuesday, where Minister Barbara Creecy, SANParks and CapeNature agreed to convene a round-table engagement with all spheres of government and civil society to discuss the Chacma baboons on the Cape Peninsula, and the clarification of roles and responsibilities.
Spatial planning and environment mayoral committee member Eddie Andrews said over the past 10 years, the programme ensured keeping baboons wild, and out of the urban environment for 98% of the time.
He said during this period, the Chacma baboon population increased from 248 in 2006, to 474 in 2021.
Andrews said despite this success, the programme has been less effective lately, and has triggered renewed discussions with all stakeholders regarding the roles and responsibilities to manage it.
The programme costs the City about R10 million to R14m a year.
Jenni Trethowan, from Baboon Matters, said the organisation was taken aback to see the first inkling of changes to the baboon management programme in a video reporting back on the progress of the alien invasive species.
Trethowan said Baboon Matters had been calling for a workshop to address these issues since 2018, but the process, headed by Cape Nature, was stalled when the communication between role-players appeared to have broken down.
“We are pleased that Minister Creecy recognised the urgency of the situation and has created this opportunity for civil society to be included in the discussions. Baboon Matters looks forward to engaging in an expanded circle of solution-oriented role-players, and hopes that the round-table discussions will allow for inclusive and innovative thinking, so that we do find ethical methods to manage the baboon/human interface going forward,” she said.
Beauty Without Cruelty chairperson Toni Brockhoven said the City’s baboon management hadn’t been successful, with no accountability. She said the City, contractors and Cape Nature threw responsibility for the baboons at each other.
Brockhoven said they were cautiously optimistic that, finally, serious focus is being given to the matter of local wildlife, by all the departments and role players.
Activist Debby Zuanni said “language” seems to be changing and applauded the engagement with the public and concerned organisations.
“Our problem is that wild animals were never included anywhere in our Constitution and should have been included in Section 24. The three spheres of government involved with the baboons – SanParks, Cape Nature, and the City of Cape Town – are all saying the other one is responsible for managing the baboons.
“The City has, in effect, been managing baboons without the legal authority or framework to do so,” said Zuanni.