Philemon, a baboon from Smitswinkel Bay was put down on Thursday morning after its raiding behaviour put other baboons from the area in danger. Picture: Anya Adendorff
Philemon, a baboon from Smitswinkel Bay was put down on Thursday morning after its raiding behaviour put other baboons from the area in danger. Picture: Anya Adendorff

Residents fuming over death of Philemon the raiding baboon

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Apr 14, 2021

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Cape Town - Conservation lobby groups are fuming over the City’s decision to euthanise Philemon, a Smitswinkel Bay male baboon, last week after its raiding behaviour put other baboons from the area in danger.

The groups questioned whether the protocols had been followed to the letter, attractants dealt with and data collection verified.

Baboon Matters founder Jenni Trethowan said the authorities have killed nearly 80 baboons on the Cape Peninsula alone, yet baboons continued to seek easy food rewards in human-occupied spaces.

She said killing and hurting baboons was not working.

“Mayor Plato directed a task team, Minister Bredell directed a workshop - both directives are to resolve the long-standing and ongoing management issues around human/baboon problems.

“But it seems that the City and Cape Nature managers did not get the message that the current guidelines are not working and are unacceptable to all but a few narrow-minded, conservative-ignorant residents, and so it seems the decision is to carry on as usual. Philemon was not the problem; when you can accept that, only then will we be able to find sustainable solutions,” she said.

Conservation group Baboons of the South questioned the legitimacy of the Councillor Appointed Representatives for Baboon Suburbs (CARBS).

“This structure offers no solutions and does not achieve anything, either within the circle or outside the circle, to deal with baboon problems. There is certainly no evidence of this.

“We believe a path may well have been chosen to dispose of our baboons in terms of the protocols, and the CARBS structure is there purely to pay lip service to those who are prepared to accept it.

“Any decisions in terms of the protocols are made independently of CARBS it appears, if you consider the case of Philemon,” the group said.

CARBS representative for Smitswinkel Bay Chantal Luyt, who confirmed that they were not informed of the decision to euthanise Philomon, said these raids will not stop.

“The troop was back the very next day in Murdock Valley, and they were more persistent about getting into houses. Two days later, we had another baboon that was hurt as a result of a dog attack. The baboons are still going down into the residential areas; killing it was not the solution. People should start taking responsibility for their own homes and baboon-proof their houses,” she said.

In a statement released by the City last week, it said the local community has been engaged extensively on how to baboon-proof their properties and manage waste in an attempt to deter the raiding behaviour, but these actions did not succeed in deterring the persistent and continuous raiding behaviour.

Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment Marian Nieuwoudt said since 2009 the City, CapeNature and SANParks have worked closely with local primate research specialists, residents and other stakeholders to develop and implement baboon-management guidelines for the Cape Peninsula.

“The selective euthanasia of baboons is a last resort undertaken in accordance with the established guidelines and in terms of permits issued by CapeNature under the Western Cape Nature Conservation Ordinance,” she said.

Nieuwoudt said the number of baboons living on the Cape Peninsula has increased from about 350 in 2009 to more than 430 to date. She said this increased population indicated a healthy population growth, but also placed pressure on urban areas that are in close proximity to baboons’ natural habitat and on baboon troops.

Cape Argus

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