Research performed by Esme Beamish on the Cape Peninsula baboons points to a sustainable baboon population that is experiencing less human baboon conflict.  By inference therefore management and conservation have improved and we should be commending the authorities and not condemning them in a public protest.  If people are against the killing of individual baboons (3 in the last 10 years, < 1% of total Peninsula population) that are perceived to be a threat to public health and safety then they should be encouraged to do so using the established channels of communication.  Contact your elected Baboon Liaison Group representative who will relay your point(s) to the relevant authorities on a monthly basis for discussion and feedback.  This approach will ensure that individuals are provided with the relevant facts pertinent to the issues raised.  This is a sound alternative to the highly emotive press release which in its brief message contains numerous factual errors and emotive statements that may well mislead the general public.

Relevant facts:

1) The Peninsula population has increased from 365 in 1998 to 475 in 2010.  An increase of 110 animals.

2) The number of troops has increased from 10 to 16.

3) The sex ratio in 1998 was highly abnormal (8.6 females to every male) due to high adult male mortality resulting from conflict with people and inadequate management.  Currently it is 2.5 females to every male which is regarded as normal.  This represents a massive improvement in a key indicator of population health and is an indicator of significant improvement in management and conservation of this population.

4) The ratio of adults to juveniles was also highly skewed in 1998 with more immature than mature animals.  This has normalised to the expected 50% ratio providing another key indicator of an improvement in health of the population to approximate natural populations that do not live in dense urban areas.

5) Baboon mortality expressed per capita is at its lowest in the last 5 years and the last two years since the appointment of the new service provider and the addition of more monitors to more troops in 2009 has seen the lowest per capita human induced mortality rates in the Peninsula.

6) 6 honours, 3 Masters theses, 6 PhD studies and 2 post-doctorates have contributed data to the Baboon Conservation Authorities (BCA) making baboons the best studied of all the Peninsula mammals and resulting in baboon management being the best informed by independent research of all current faunal management strategies on the Peninsula. The BCA thus consults with recognised local and international experts in
baboon management, conservation and ecology on a monthly basis.

7) All decisions made by the BCA are communicated to the BLG members in monthly meetings who in turn relay this information to the general public.  This is a transparent process that is available to all residents living in baboon affected areas.

Justin O’Riain May 12, 2011

Baboon Research Unit, UCT

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