City reports baboon management successes

The City of Cape Town is pleased to report that its baboon management programme has seen great success over the past six months, with statistics showing that the strategies in place are working very well.

On 1 August 2012, the City appointed the current service providers, Human Wildlife Solutions(HWS), on a two-year contract to manage baboons in the Cape Peninsula. Their ranger services have been enormously successful, with 60 rangers employed in the following three regions:

  • Northern region (Tokai main troop, Zwaanswyk troop, Mountain troop and Constantia troop)
  • South-eastern region (Smitswinkel, Waterfall, and the two Da Gama troops)
  • South-western region (Groot Olifantsbos troop, Misty Cliffs splinter troop, and Slangkop troop).

 

As part of the contract with HWS, the City requires that troops be kept out of town for a minimum of 80% of the time. Since August 2012, the baboons have been kept out of town for an average of over 95% of the time.

During the month of December 2012, the 11 troops spent an average of over 98% of their time out of town, with five troops spending 100% of their time out of town. The Misty Cliffs splinter troop recorded the highest number of visits to town, but were still out of town for 94,7% of the time.

William Baboon & babe by Jenni Trethowan of Baboon MattersSimilar successes have been achieved with raiding adult males, with no reported raids in the Zwaanswyk and Tokai residential areas. The only suburb that experienced frequent raids over the summer is Kommetjie, where a new splinter troop is forming and there are therefore too few field rangers. Two males successfully raided at least five houses with people present, and numerous bin raids were reported. A special meeting will be held with the Kommetjie ratepayers and residents to discuss current management challenges in this area.

Calls to the baboon hotline reporting baboon presence in urban areas were substantially lower this December at 63, compared to the same month last year, which saw 154 calls. Of the 63 calls, 33 were attributed to a single event, i.e. the Slangkop troop raiding Scarborough, which surprised residents.

There is always room for improvement, but testament to the success of these actions is the decline in the human-induced baboon mortality rate, which has been halved from over 10% in 2006 to 5% in 2011.

The City of Cape Town has thus achieved their primary goal of a sustainable baboon population as part of the Peninsula’s rich natural heritage.

All baboon management successes are published by the City in a monthly report compiled by the service provider, HWS. The monthly reports are available for download on the City’s website, on the CapeNature website and on the HWS website.

Peninsula troops flourish
Rangers now manage 11 of the 16 Peninsula troops, compared to early 2009 when five troops were managed.

The number of Peninsula baboons has steadily increased, having recently reached the 500 mark. This represents an increase of 121 individuals over the previous seven years. Furthermore, the number of adult males has increased dramatically by 46%, from about 40 to 60 males over the same time – the direct result of improved management by the City.

All three conservation authorities (SANParks, Cape Nature and the City of Cape Town) hold monthly meetings to deliberate on management challenges. They also meet regularly with members of the public (the Baboon Liaison Group) from areas of the Peninsula affected by baboons to adapt management to address their concerns.

In addition, all activities that previously brought people into close contact with baboons have been stopped. Permits were denied for filming, baboon walking tours, and pure research in order to limit further close contact between humans and baboons.

Sensitive management decisions were devolved to an external body of wildlife specialists (the Wildlife Advisory Committee) to ensure accountability and adherence to agreed procedures by the local authorities.

Engaging with the public
In recognition of the need to educate the public, the authorities, together with civic representatives, intensified education programmes through:

  • public meetings;
  • mail drops on waste management;
  • improved signage on roads;
  • expert workshops with public participation;
  • audits of commercial and public properties to minimise baboon attractants.

 

The next public baboon information meeting is scheduled to take place at the Kommetjie Primary School in Kommetjie on Wednesday 6 February at 19:30.

In addition to the public meetings, the Baboon Management Team routinely consults with locally and internationally recognised experts in baboon behavioural ecology and conservation to ensure that their management decisions are informed by the latest research.

Together, the above-mentioned interventions make the Peninsula baboons the best-resourced and managed population of free living, commensal primates in the country and, arguably, the continent.

MEDIA RELEASE
NO. 1116 / 2013
06 FEBRUARY 2013

ISSUED BY:
INTEGRATED STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION AND BRANDING DEPARTMENT, CITY OF CAPE TOWN