At the recent Baboon Liaison Group (BLG) AGM members were updated on findings from the donor-funded Baboon Protector Project.  This project, designed to protect the baboon troop on the busy tourist route near Millers Point and Smitwinkel Bay, employed a trained “protector” for three months. During this period the “protector” on duty provided educational material to 909 cars, 240 mini-buses and 71 tour buses. Incidents of feeding and cruelty were reported and baboon raids on vehicles were prevented.

“Most exciting” said Doug Tunbridge, the new Chair of the Baboon Liaison Group, “have been the unexpected spin-offs.  The Project has clearly shown that we should be focusing on people management rather than baboon management.  It is people and their thoughtless behaviour that are the problem.”  The Project has also highlighted the need to shift our thinking away from the ‘baboon monitor’ concept. “We need to have trained people in the field who can be competent ‘Baboon Rangers’, people who don’t just keep baboons out of urban and public spaces, but who understand their behaviour and biology, and have the power and confidence to manage the public.”

The BLG are holding meetings to share the results of the Baboon Protector Project with the three authorities responsible for baboon management: the City of Cape Town, CapeNature and SANParks as well as with the NCC Environmental Services who are currently contracted to keep the Peninsula’s baboons separate from people.  The City has welcomed the input and has agreed to follow up on many of the suggestions from the Project. The BLG has also been working with CapeNature to obtain more effective law enforcement.  “Lack of law enforcement was a major problem highlighted by the Protector Project” said Tunbridge.  “Members of the public were abusive and sometimes threatening to the Protector who tried to prevent feeding or harming the baboons.”  It was noted at the AGM that the three authorities still have not yet signed the long-awaited Tripartite Agreement on baboon management to clearly identify their respective areas of responsibility.

Despite this, the Chairman was able to report significant progress during the BLG’s first year. The BLG is comprised of representatives from civic organisations in baboon-affected areas. Its function is not to manage baboons but to act as a line of communication between residents and the responsible authorities.  The authorities need to fulfill their statutory responsibilities towards both people and baboons, and residents must take steps not to attract baboons and habituate them to humans and human food.  The BLG has made progress on both fronts, working with the City and CapeNature, and has undertaken a number of educational initiatives, both in the press and by distributing information in key baboon-affected areas.

PRESS RELEASE 

Lesley Shackleton Vice Chair: Baboon Liaison Group

Further information: Doug Tunbridge: 083 250 3452