Conservation interests groups have lauded the NSPCAs decision to withdraw its support of the shooting of shooting primates with paintball guns as a means of deterring the animals from entering urban areas. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)
Conservation interests groups have lauded the NSPCAs decision to withdraw its support of the shooting of shooting primates with paintball guns as a means of deterring the animals from entering urban areas. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

NSPCA withdraws support for use of paintball guns to shoot baboons

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published May 14, 2021

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Cape Town - Conservation interests groups have lauded the NSPCAs decision to withdraw its support of the shooting of shooting primates with paintball guns as a means of deterring the animals from entering urban areas.

The NSPCAs stance comes shortly after a juvenile baboon was found dead in the garden of a Simon’s Town resident last week Friday.

In a statement, NSPCA said the practice was not only outdated, but one that may cause unnecessary suffering to the creatures the guns are aimed at. It said there were no comparable deterrent practices against which anyone could measure the effectiveness of paintball marking.

“For many years, paintball guns have been used as a deterrent, however, times have changed and technology has evolved. Just because a practice was conducted years ago does not mean it should be continued today, especially when there may be alternative methods that can be used to achieve the same outcome,” the statement said.

The NSPCA also said it took note of the “extreme disappointment” expressed by mayoral committee member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Marian Nieuwoudt, for “not consulting the City of Cape Town” prior to the decision to withdraw support. It said it had also taken note of the legal threats which the City had made against it, and in following its mandate would defend their decision should the need arise.

The NSPCA, in conjunction with the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, tasked the City with setting up a panel to discuss a way forward with managing baboons and expected that humane and effective deterrents may arise and a programme suitable to implement in all afflicted areas may be initiated.

Baboon Matters founder Jenni Trethowan said they have been against the practice of using paintball guns since its first implementation in 2010.

“It is our belief that if the authorities are using this practice, the message given to the residents and user groups is that it is okay to hurt the animal rather than finding ways to reduce attractants or to baboon-proof your home. We don’t believe that the City has done nearly enough in terms of solid waste management, particularly in areas where baboons are in close proximity, and has done very little to educate the residents,” she said.

Councillor Appointed Representatives for Baboon Suburbs from Smitwinkel representative Chantal Luyt said strategies and proper training of rangers was needed if the practice was to be continued.

The City said it was concerned about this decision and the impact it would have on the safety and well-being of the Cape Peninsula’s chacma baboon population.

Nieuwoudt said it was unclear how baboons could be encouraged not to enter urban areas in future as the NSPCA did not recommend alternative aversion tools proven to be effective. She said the City would also have to inform residents living in areas close to baboons’ natural habitat of the impact this decision would have on their properties and lifestyle.

The City said it has never threatened the NSPCA with legal action, but advised that the organisation was at risk of litigation as a consequence of not consulting stakeholders prior to their decision.

Earlier on Friday, the City advised NCC Environmental Services who is contracted to manage the City’s Urban Baboon Programme to no longer use paintball markers as an aversion tool in keeping baboons out of the urban area.

The City will review the terms and conditions of the three-year contract with NCC Environmental Services. To date, this contract has been aligned to the various permits and approvals including the humane use of paintball markers as an aversion tool.

The City added that it is awaiting guidance from the provincial government and SANParks as conservation falls within their mandate and functions.

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Cape Argus

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