Cape Town - Years after animal rights activists called for a workshop on baboon management, long-awaited round-table discussions finally got under way at the SANPark offices.
Headed by Minister of Forestry and Fisheries and Environmental Affairs Barbara Creecy, the discussions brought together the three spheres of government and a few selected civil society representatives to discuss the management of chacma baboons on the Cape Peninsula and the clarification of roles and responsibilities.
Engagements included presentations by UCT Professor Justin O’Riain, who talked about the inclusion of science into the adaptive management programme.
A mini-workshop was also conducted with a panel discussion on the roles and experiences of management authorities.
This while the City was still expected to announce its controversial baboon management policy. Its current 3-year contract is coming to an end in June next year.
Creecy said from 2013 until 2020 there was an effective working relationship between SANParks, Cape Nature and the City and residents’ associations. Creecy said research from Professor O’Riain showed that when the three spheres were working together there were fewer casualties in terms of deaths of baboons as a result of human-wildlife conflict and fewer interventions such as euthanasia.
She said that for the past 18 months there hadn’t been a good working relationship between these parties and there had been an increase in deaths of animals and a resurgence in complaints from residents, particularly in Simon’s Town and Constantia, of invasions of homes by baboons.
“There have also been complaints of waste management, use of paintballs and whether the monitors work properly or not. My intervention was to convene everyone and to say that we've got to get the relationship back on track because the scientific evidence shows us that when the relationship breaks down, it’s not good for people and the baboons,” she said.
Creecy said in a technical discussion on Monday that a decision was taken to establish a joint task team.
“We have to agree on common principles that will guide our relationship. We want to have peaceful coexistence between baboons and humans,” she said.
Beauty Without Cruelty chairperson Toni Brockhoven said they were cautiously optimistic that with Minister Creecy's involvement something positive would happen this time.
“There had been a lot of promises and round-table discussions in the past, and nothing has ever fully benefited the baboons as human behaviours and waste management have not been properly addressed,” she said.