Easy access to food is the main reason that baboons target built up areas. By joining your picnic, raiding your veggie patch, tipping up your bin or treating your kitchen as a self service canteen, baboons get access to easy calories that would otherwise take them hours to gather in the wild. And because of encroaching urban development, natural baboon feeding areas are increasingly being built upon. This makes gathering wild food more difficult and our homes all the more attractive resulting in escalating conflict between baboons and humans. While we humans may be inconvenienced and anti-baboon measures cost us money, increasingly, baboons are paying with their lives.
If you live in an area where baboons have learnt to raid, such as the South Peninsula of Cape Town, there are a number of things you can do as a household and as a community to actively discourage them. Baboons need to learn that raiding while running the gauntlet of dogs, cars and furious humans is simply not worth it. With a bit of effort and a good measure of concern for nature we can outsmart baboons for the benefit of both species.
That said, have a look at the checklist below to find out how well you score. Are you a baboon attractor and if so what can you do about it?
|1||Is your refuse bin baboon proof?||YES||NO|
|Use a baboon proof latch with lock or place your bin where baboons can’t get to it? (eg in the garage or storeroom) Make sure that baboons can’t get to your bin on refuse colection days. See info below table on City of Cape Town supplied baboon proof bins.||Can do||Can’t do|
|2||Do you have a compost heap with food waste which is accessible to baboons?||YES||NO|
|Enclose compost in baboon proof container or use an indoor worm farm for food scraps.||Can do||Can’t do|
|3||Do you leave pet food outside during the day?||YES||NO|
|Feed pets after sundown or indoors.||Can do||Can’t do|
|4||Do you put food out for wild animals?||YES||NO|
|5||Do you have a veggie patch or fruit trees accessible to baboons.||YES||NO|
|Enclose your vegetable garden, install electric fencing or support baboon monitors. As last resort, remove fruit trees.||Can do||Can’t do|
|6||Do you have electric fencing around your property? Make sure baboons can’t get in via overhanging trees or get trapped and electrocuted.||YES||NO|
Inside your home
|7||Do you keep food, especially fruit out of sight from the windows?||YES||NO|
|Close curtains, use one way window foil, keep food where it can’t be seen or in containers. Avoid open fruit bowls near windows.||Can do||Can’t do|
|8||Can baboons get in through your windows?||YES||NO|
|Fit burglar guards with a mesh small enough to keep baboons out – aprox 8cm wide mesh and keep unguarded windows closed.||Can do||Can’t do|
|9||Do you have security gates on doors that are often left open?||YES||NO|
|10||Do you co-operate as a neighbourhood to discourage baboons collectively?||YES||NO|
|Explore options at a street and neighbourhood level. Eg a baboon neighbourhood watch, a system warning neighbours when baboons are in town, encouraging residents to comply with basic good practice etc||Can do||Can’t do|
|11||Do you have baboon monitors in your area?||YES||NO|
|12||Would you be prepared to pay to employ baboon monitors||YES||NO|
If you encounter baboons in your residential area (Cape Town only) phone the baboon monitoring hotline on 071 588 6540
Baboon Proof Bins
Those of us living in a baboon raiding area are required by the City to have a double lockable bin secured with two padlocks. The waste removal trucks which service our residential areas have been converted to open and empty these bins with these padlocks in place so keys are not required by the waste removal staff. The City needs our support to create a baboon-free residential area. Unsecured bins can result in waste being strewn all over which waste staff are then required to clean up. This poses a health hazard, delays the trucks and makes their job most unpleasant. Your secured bin will make a difference.
Lorraine Holloway from the Baboon Liaison Group explains how baboon proof bins work: Place a strong padlock on each latch on the bin. The padlock should be placed through the hole in the silver metal latch. The padlocks must be locked! Keep the keys in a safe place. Put the bin out on the side of the road or pavement but lie it down on its side with the latches nearest the ground. Recycling bags should be placed next to the bin, not inside.
Residents of the Scenic South Peninsula can apply to the municipal offices at the Fish Hoek Civic Center for a baboon proof bin. They need to ask at the public counter for an application form and must also show their ID. The public counters are open Monday to Friday from 8:00 till 15:30.
Please feel free to comment on and add to this set of tips to Kim@scenicsouth.co.za