October Newsletter 2022

October Newsletter 2022

Help Baboon Matters help baboons!

It is amazing to think that we are almost three-quarters of the way through 2022 and with people already making end-of-year plans I thought it was high time to get our newsletter out. What an incredibly busy and bizarre year this has been, quite surreal in many respects as the City of Cape unilaterally, and unexpectedly, announced that as of June 2023 there will be no more rangers managing the 11 urban baboon troops.But let’s start at the beginning of the year:


Kleinmond fire and Arabella baboons2022 started with the horrific Kleinmond fires which started in an old pine plantation owned by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment. The fire swept across the mountains destroying 5400 hectares of vegetation and devastating the home range of the Arabella troop. Concerns were expressed about the safety of the troop who were initially reported to be coping, but when photographer Michael Green spotted badly burned female dragging herself across the road, we went back to find the troop and check for ourselves.What we found was heartbreaking as between 9–13 baboons had badly burnt hands and feet. Baboon Matters worked closely with the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, Sunel Visser (of Kleinmond) Gerda Wilkins and Liz Potgieter (of Pringle Bay). The hard-working and energetic Greyton Baboon Monitors provided invaluable help and those fit young men covered many, many kilometres of tough terrain in extreme weather conditions trying to find the injured animals.The story of the Arabella troop does need to be told in more detail, but for this newsletter, I will summarize by saying that we managed to capture only one young female with badly burnt hands; Kelly was treated at the CGHSPCA and successfully released back to her troop. As to the other badly (critically) injured baboons, we never saw them again… There were no traces of their bodies, nor of recovering baboons; one afternoon they were in the area and the next morning, they were gone never to be seen again. We have searched the area minutely for any clues but to date, the disappearance of the burnt Arabella baboon remains an unsolved mystery.


City of Cape Town terminates the Urban Baboon Project

On the 8th of April 2022, video footage taken at a CoCT biodiversity meeting went viral as media liaison spokesperson Kay Montgomery announced that the “activists had won” and that the City of Cape Town was terminating the baboon ranger project. The bombshell created immediate concern and chaos as the service provider was informed that their contract would not be renewed at the end of June 2023 and residents were made aware of the proposed changes through media press releases by Alderman Eddie Andrews. For the first time in many years, a national minister of the environment decided to step in to resolve the years-old baboon debate; Minister Barbra Creecy hosted a public meeting and instructed SANParks to sort the problem out.The three decision-makers (City of Cape TownSANParks and Cape Nature) have been unable to resolve their legal mandates and responsibilities since the park was proclaimed in 1998. However, on instruction from Minister Creecy, they duly reformed a new task team and are apparently working on terms of reference, strategic management plans etc.While the authorities are working behind closed doors on resolving their issues (which should have been sorted out after a high court judgement handed down in 2015) the CoCT engaged with residents through a series of area-specific zoom meetings.As the meetings progressed over July through to September, it became increasingly clear that the CoCT is expecting residents themselves to take “ownership” of the baboon-related issues – if residents want effective baboon-proof fences, it seems that residents will have to pay for installation and maintenance of those fences. Likewise with rangers, if residents want rangers, at this stage it seems as if they will have to pay for them.From discussions at the meetings, it may be that the only thing the CoCT will provide is baboon-proof bins (sometime in 2023/24) as well as advice as to how residents should baboon-proof homes and businesses.

As the CoCT engaged with its rate base, the real crux of the issues appeared to centre on who is actually responsible for the baboons, and who should pay for baboon-proof fences to keep the baboons in the Table Mountain National Park? Who will maintain the fences? There are many questions that need answers but only the CoCT and Cape Nature were present in the meetings; SANParks and TMNP are maintaining a very low profile.On the issue of their responsibilities, Cape Nature is clear they are responsible only for permits to relocate, move or kill baboons, but recently stated that those decisions will now be made jointly with the CoCT… 

As there is no clarity at all in regards to future management of the baboon human interface, we will have to wait for the draft Strategic Management Plan, which may be available for public input towards the end of November, just in time for the year-end break. This means that any potential discussion and workshops would only start again in the new year and with the end of June as the proposed cut-off date to stop the ranger’s services, you can understand why we are so concerned.

While the authorities attempt to sort out their differences of opinion, I sincerely hope that they are ALL paying careful heed to the plight of the CT2 troop of Constantia. The troop were effectively abandoned by the CoCT when they removed rangers from the troop, effectively leaving them to wander the streets of Constantia on their own (the CoCT quoted very dubious reasons for the terrible decision-making).

The CT2 troop is providing an insightful illustration as to what will happen if the CoCT does proceed with plans to abandon the ranger project without strategic baboon-proof fences, waste management etc. in place. Without appropriate management and management structures in place baboons suffer injury and awful deaths and residents suffer damage to property; simply put there are no winners in that scenario only chaos.

Collectively, all resident groups and stakeholders are unanimous on the fact that the CoCT cannot simply terminate the ranger project at the end of June 2023, at the very least there must be a practical transition period of 3–5 years so that adequate baboon proofing (including strategic baboon proof electric fences) is in place and if residents have decided to form SpecialRating Areas to pay for future services those can be in place too.


An important part of future baboon management will be the inclusion of an ethics committee to help evaluate management decisions and we thank Dr Elisa Galgut for putting forward this long overdue addition to the management discussions.Baboon Matters has participated intensively in not only the CoCT zoom meetings, but also the preparatory meetings with our colleagues and stakeholders as well as in panel discussions hosted by Simons Town Civic Association. It is astonishing to note, however, that despite numerous requests to meet with the Mayor and Alderman Andrews to help resolve the contentious management of the baboon human interface, Mayor Hill-Lewis and Ald Andrews have, so far, ignored all requests to meet with BM.It is very clear, that unless the authorities resolve the long outstanding issues of accountability and legal responsibility for baboons, we (the residents and stakeholders) will be going around and around the same old problems that have confounded baboon management for the past 20 years for another 20 years – providing angry residents have not killed the closed population of baboons.


In 2021 Baboon Matters launched our Emergency Rescue Pack initiative to supply essential equipment to assist in circumstances where wildlife has been injured and in need of veterinary care. Innovative engineer Marco Pasanisi designed and produced our first trap cage, which we then gifted to the Wildlife Unit of the CGHSPCA. The trap cage has proved invaluable to the CGHSPCA and they have been able to assist many injured baboons by getting them appropriate veterinary help urgently needed.THANKS to your support, we have just ordered our next 5 trap cages and will be also purchasing equipment such as plunge syringes, control poles etc. so that injured wildlife can be quickly and safely contained until they can get veterinary care. The trap cages will be deployed to areas in the Western Cape after organisations and individuals have undergone training course on how to assess injuries and how to use the equipment we will provide.



Baboon Matters has continued to support the incredible work undertaken by the hardworking groups who rescue our many orphaned and injured baboons across SA. This year we have assisted Prime Crew with food and running costs as they worked exceptionally hard (and under huge pressure) to successfully release two troops into a wonderful natural area where they will be wild baboons for the rest of their days. Well done to Luzanne, Kimmy and the entire Prime Crew team, you have achieved your goals for these baboons and you must be super proud of this result!We have recently also helped out at Stormberg as we covered the transport costs and veterinary bills for two young baboons both of whom lost their mothers here in Cape Town (one baboon mom was killed by dogs and the other mom thought to have been electrocuted). Both youngsters are doing very well at Stormberg and we thank Lana, Dup and Karen for all their care.In 2020 we were able to direct essential funds to cover some of the food costs to CARE, as BM tries to assist the rehab centers where we can. I would like to pay a special thanks to Stephen Munroe of CARE who is such a help to me – providing essential insight and advice when baboons have been injured.


Education and Outreach

Baboon Matters has always put a great deal of time and effort into education and outreach, our social media has been extremely successful with over 66000 followers on Facebook and in some months, our content has been exposed and reached nearly a million people–quite astonishing! We have a rapidly growing support base on Instagram, where we have more than doubled our followers in the past few months and now have 3600 people following BM. In the coming months, we plan to launch a series of podcasts and we believe these will be entertaining as well as educational, so I hope you sign up for the podcasts when we go on air! Baboon Matters has often collaborated with well-known artist Chip Snaddon and we were absolutely thrilled with Chip’s wonderful designs for posters we had made for the busy holiday season in Simons Town over December and January 2021. The posters will be used again and we hope to grow the campaign in other areas.


This year I was delighted when a concerned Tokai resident had beautiful boards and flyers designed and printed. We thank our anonymous friend for all her hard work, this collaborative effort meant that BM simply covered some of the printing costs in order to get the effective signage and flyers to key points.

In our efforts, to encourage the Greyton Baboon Monitor project we helped the team get their first newsletter together and I thank the Cape Creative Collective for their help and creative inputs with both the newsletter and “postcard”.The Greyton team are such hardworking men and they were delighted to see their first newsletter printed. Thanks so much to Lance of Greytprint for his help with the artwork and the great print.


I am always so very sorry our baboons are tragically killed, this year was especially hard to lose such wonderful characters such Crookie-Mary (of Da Gama) troop who was torn apart by dogs, the loss of Julius (of Plateau Road troop) who was killed by a professional hunter on orders of the landowner and the awful, unresolved, circumstances of Brutus (of Bettys Bay troop) who was shot at close range. In addition to being killed by dogs or run over by cars, too many baboons are killed by intolerant residents and we ask all readers to please report shootings to the relevant authorities (all details on the flyer above.)The entire community of baboon colleagues was deeply saddened by the death of staunch baboon warrior Lorna Thomas (of Welcome Glen) and of primate academics Judith Masters and Fabien Genin. May they Rest in Peace.


Baboon Matters is entirely dependent upon the financial support of the public and I thank you all for signing up for MySchool Card (please remember to swipe your card when you shop!) and to all of you who make contributions to the very hard work put into support other groups and always working towards the goals of better management of the baboon/human interface–and saving our baboons.Thank you for your ongoing support.

Bank Details: Baboon Matters TrustStandard Bank Blue RouteAccount: 2700 400 80

BaboonMatters Trust – Newsletter February 2021

BaboonMatters Trust – Newsletter February 2021

Help Baboon Matters help baboons!

Did you know that your donation to Baboon Matters is Tax Deductable?
Donate now before the financial year end and we will send you a Section 18a Receipt for your tax deductions!

Looking Back and Looking Forward

The year has gotten off to a hectic start with Covid regulations and concerns about Kataza dominating our media and thoughts, but now that Kataza is at Riverside it is time to refocus our attention.

Please note that I am reporting on Baboon Matters related work and not every aspect of work undertaken by role players in the past months.

Baboon Matters has raised concerns and objections to the management guidelines and protocols since they were implemented in 2010. As a result of these disagreements and objections to lack of veterinary care for injured baboons, we were cut out of all management decisions and meetings

In 2019 Baboon Matters and Baboons of the South wrote a memorandum detailing areas of concern relating to management protocols and guidelines which need to be addressed through a review and revision process. The memorandum was endorsed by the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum SA and submitted to all the role players on the Baboon Technical Team. Our memorandum was summarily dismissed, but I addressed points raised and resubmitted the memorandum to relevant heads of the various organizations. Cape Nature was the only organization to respond, although the response was disappointingly off track.

We did not give up.

Bettys Bay Baboon Action Group joined the WAPFSA and we redirected our memoranda to Minister Bredell.

Whilst this was happening, Kataza was moved and so we started specific liaison with the City of Cape Town.

Working with Global Giving, we will be doing another fund-matching campaign on March 6th to the 12th! All donations during that time will be matched by Global Giving. Please DONATE HERE

In August BM and BoTS, together with Bradley Thorsen, met with Alderman Felicity Purchase with clear reasons why Kataza should not have been moved, and why he should be returned. At this meeting Ald. Purchase stated that the by-laws for baboon affected areas were almost ready for the public participation process and answered our questions regarding the time-lines saying we would see the by-laws within a month.
Our meeting was followed up with numerous emails and data to all relevant decision makers.

In support of our efforts, SAFCEI wrote to the Mayor Plato and requested all relevant documentation whilst IWAF voiced their concerns about baboon management. International icons Dr. Jane Goodall and Sir David Attenborough condemned the use of aggressive and lethal methods of management of baboons.

In September BoTS, BM and Bradley Thorsen met with Mayor Plato and again offered clarity and solutions and suggested the formation of a neutral task team to resolve long outstanding issues relating to baboon management.

Help our baboons by helping us. For EVERY donation you make, we can keep our doors open and effect the changes the baboons need.

Working with Global Giving, we will be doing another fund-matching campaign on March 6th to the 12th! All donations during that time will be matched by Global Giving.


In September 2020, Minister Bredell responded to the our request and instructed Cape Nature to host the workshop, on 13 November the initial meeting was held at Cape Nature offices, in preparation for a workshop in 2021.

In October CWAF’s Karen de Klerk arranged a meeting with the Mayor, Mayco, CAWF, CGHSPCA, BM and BoTS and at that meeting the Mayor directed Alderman Nieuwoudt to start a task team to resolve baboon management related issues.

In November the CoCT settled the court action initiated by Ryno Engelbrecht and Kataza was returned to his home range!

In December it was clear Kataza was not settling with a troop and BM raised funds for 4 additional rangers to be employed by service provider NCC, the intention being to try and keep Kataza out of the urban areas and easy food rewards so that he would have a greater chance of integrating with a troop.

In January the CGHSPCA made an application to Cape Nature for Kataza to be relocated to Riverside Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Limpopo, a permit was issued and Kataza was moved.

Although Kataza ensnared our attention and hearts, Baboon Matters has never stopped work, lobbying and advocating for the bigger picture issues but some of the projects we had planned for 2020 did not get off the ground, so I am starting 2021 with the goal of raising funds for these projects as these are specific issues that I believe need urgent attention.

T-Shirts and Funding Appeal

Our super cool 100% cotton T-shirts and vests are your must have summer accessory! What a fab way to support Baboon Matters – and look good too!

Order Now:   https://products.baboonmatters.org.za/

I am going to list a few of the smaller projects here, but will be detailing a longer term plan in coming weeks!


This is an issue very close to my heart. All too often injured baboons (and many other wildlife) do not get necessary veterinary care or attention simply because there is a lack of appropriate equipment. Few vets or welfare organisations have appropriate trap cages, let alone dart guns, blow dart or any method to contain an injured baboon ( or an otter, bokkie or caracal) until the injured animal can be assessed and treated accordingly by a vet. We would like to raise sufficient funds to ensure that various groups are properly equipped and trained to catch and contain injured wildlife for veterinary attention. We will be working closely with expert Brett Glasby and will shortly make available a full break down of costs and all project details.

Prevention of electrocution

Far too many baboons continue to be killed or badly burnt on power lines or transformer boxes. Baboon Matters will be working with a private supplier to install boxes that will prevent further injury or loss of life from horrifying electrocutions.

Signage and education

Although we all acknowledge the desperate need for on-going, updated education and appropriate signage, it is extremely difficult to get the relevant land owners to fulfill this role. If we have funds to create and produce material, we will be able to reach a wide audience and work to get signage up at hot spots. We would love to produce more of our very popular educational videos and will be looking for sponsorship for this work.

Water Points

The Cape peninsula is a water scarce province, and with ever encroaching urbanization and land use, many historically available water sources are no longer available to baboons or are on land not easily accessible to the managed troops due to restrictions such as busy roads, social impacts etc…
We will be liaising closely with the relevant authorities and the service provider to see how this issue can best be addressed.

I have listed just a few of the immediate projects that we would love to complete this year, this will be in addition to our on-going work on advocacy and lobbying to change the management protocols and guidelines.

I hope that you will continue to support Baboon Matters and I look forward to telling you more about our projects in coming weeks!



Baboon Matters Donation Options:

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Donate via:  http://baboonmatters.org.za/donate/

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BaboonMatters Trust – Newsletter November 2020

BaboonMatters Trust – Newsletter November 2020



We did it! 

Each and every one of you who emailed, telephoned, signed petitions, posted on social media,
protested, lobbied and litigated –
WE ALL WORKED TOGETHER and  #BroughtKatazaBack

“You don’t need to watch television, you have the
baboon channel to watch. ”

Pete Oxford, November 2020

How right Pete is! The drama of baboon management has played out in all media over this year but escalated incredibly with the ‘Katazagate’ scenario! Who would have thought that Kataza would become the most famous baboon in the world? He has been become a social-media star, a twitter trend, been seen on news features and press internationally and nationally and is known by everyone no matter where he goes.

We have watched with degrees of concern, sadness and despair as this male baboon struggled to come to terms with having been uprooted from Kommetjie and set down in Tokai to find a new troop. Our frustration and anger at the lack of transparency and lack of action from decision makers was rife and inspired animal rights activist Ryno Engelbrecht to start legal action.  We protested and petitioned and far from public attention dying down, as the CoCT had hoped, interest in Kataza has always escalated and never waned.


Katazagate in a nutshell.

Kataza is one of two adult male baboons of the Slangkop troop who were moved back into the Kommetjie home-range in January 2020 after rangers had been held up and robbed whilst on duty in the Ocean View range.
Moving the troop back to Kommetjie illustrated on-going and underlying management problems such as poor communication, minimal education, little community involvement and no baboon proof bins – which should be provided by CoCT Solid Waste Dept.

There is no water on the Slangkop range in the hot, dry summer months and TMNP had not allowed any water provisioning sites so the troop started coming in to Kommetjie, essentially for water, but  they quickly rediscovered “hot-spot” areas where they could access rich rewards of food found in bins or inappropriately thrown away – such as household waste being dumped into green bins designated for pedestrian use.

The entire troop utilized the easy food rewards obtained in Kommetjie, no single baboon was seen to be a more excessive opportunist than any other baboon.  The troop all arrived together and were normally herded out of the village together, there are always a few stragglers but residents did not notice any factions or splitting within the troop.

In the ensuing months, residents complained about the excessive use of paintballs on the baboons and noted how the troop scattered all over the village as a result of the aggressive management.

The Slangkop troop arriving back in Kommetjie was almost immediately followed by the global Covid pandemic and national lockdown and it seems that the timing of baboons in the village, along with national stress and concerns about income, health and safety all combined into one simmering mess of tension. Baboons were injured by dogs, shot at by pellets and high velocity paintball guns – but continued to come into the village and even started sleeping in Kommetjie overnight.The Slangkop troop arriving back in Kommetjie was almost immediately followed by the global Covid pandemic and national lockdown and it seems that the timing of baboons in the village, along with national stress and concerns about income, health and safety all combined into one simmering mess of tension. Baboons were injured by dogs, shot at by pellets and high velocity paintball guns – but continued to come into the village and even started sleeping in Kommetjie overnight. 

Setting the records straight

Local resident Bradley Thorsen collated data from the daily WhatsApp groups where sightings of baboons in the village are reported and noted discrepancies in the management reports, specifically with the times recorded for baboons being in the village.  His expressed concerns were dismissed by the service provider as being “irrelevant” nonetheless his accurate data was able to prove when baboons had been in the village and if any baboon had accrued more misdemeanors than any other baboon. Thank you Bradley for keeping the records!

Towards the end of August I noticed that Kataza was not with his troop, at first I thought that perhaps I had just missed seeing the big lad, but I asked Bradley and Susan Litten (our Kommetjie Councilor Appointed Rep – Baboons South) to help me check. Over the next few days none of us could find Kataza.  Susan queried his disappearance and we were told that Kataza had been “relocated” to Tokai – the reasons being that he was “splitting the troop”, that he was inbreeding as he should have dispersed and that he was the deemed to have the worst “raiding record”.

As this poor decision came to light baboon experts of UCT were quick to defend the Baboon Technical Team – Esme Beamish (independent researcher – ICWild) was reported as noting that Kataza was not seen consorting with the females when she completed her annual counts of the troop over a few months in 2020.  Justin O’Riain (ICWild) noted that Kataza could not possibly have offspring, or that off spring would have been in utero.  It was confusing to hear reports that:

  1. Kataza was not consorting with females of his troop, yet it was claimed that Kataza was leading a splinter group of low ranking females; perhaps this was the first platonic splinter troop in baboon history?
  2. Kataza was inbreeding yet is was also claimed that
    • Kataza had no offspring
    • George (remaining adult male of the troop) killed 5 infants (as males sometimes do commit infanticide when there is a change in dominance). So George thought Kataza had babies? A bad mistake George?
  3. Kataza was a “problem raiding baboon” 
    • He was not proven to be any worse than any other baboon of this habitually opportunistic raiding troop.

But despite what we, collectively, thought about the decision making or the outcome, the CoCT proved to be intractable and simply refused to answer emails, or engage to resolve the issue…. Kataza gained celebrity status as he went in and out of Pollsmoor Prison and the American Embassy while the CoCT gained notoriety status for doing nothing.


#Bring Kataza Back – #We brought Kataza back!

Here is an overview of all the actions that took place to save Kataza:

  • Baboon Matters,Baboons of the South and Bradley Thorsen immediately engaged with our councillor to find an immediate solution to the situation.
    • We then had out first meeting with Mayor Plato who was urged to set up a task team and resolve the matter expediently.
  • BoTS and BM met with the Cape of Good Hope SPCA.
  • A group of quietly determined women formed themselves into a cohesive group taking shifts to ensure Kataza’s safety as he traversed the busy roads of suburbia.
    • The women became known as the Angels as they undertook to keep Kataza alive whilst his future was negotiated.
      • In understanding why the Angels took this action, it must be noted that the last baboon male to be relocated to Tokai was Dodger, and he lasted only 10 days before he was killed for BTTG3 offences.
    • The Angels worked for over 85 days from dawn to dusk and not only kept Kataza alive but they also informed residents, dog walkers and pedestrians about “the baboon in the hood”. They took the opportunity to engage with local children and taught them about baboons.  
    • The Angels continued with this task despite some very aggressive attacks from the previous service management who did not want Kataza watched.  The ladies were filmed and accused of feeding, herding and chasing Kataza – preventing him from integrating was a common slight.
    • I did my shifts in the field alongside the Angels, had many meetings with them to hear their views, give advice and help plan the best outcome for Kataza. 

There is no doubt that in the beginning there were “rookie” mistakes, after all these volunteers had never worked with baboons before, let alone a male baboon walking through the burbs; but where were the professionals? Where were TMNP rangers? CoCT traffic control? Cape Nature staff? Why didn’t baboon researchers  and their students come and help?  

It was easy to criticize but the Angels kept at it, learnt how better to assist and, my goodness, hearing some of the daily voice notes was the equivalent to listening to high speed drama scenes in any movie.

#Bring Kataza Back – #We brought Kataza back!

The overview of the actions that took place to save Kataza continued:

  • After hearing about the plight of QKataza, concerned animal rights campaigner and activist Ryno Engelbrecht started legal proceedings to get Kataza returned to his troop.
  • Toni V Brockhoven started a twitter campaign – and #Bring Kataza Back became the trending topic.
  • Daina de Agrela started a petition which gained over 30 000 signatures!
  • Toni V Brockhoven (United Front 4 Animals) and Kylie Wilford for arranged a hugely successful protest.
  •  Barbara Friedman gave all sides of the Kataza story exceptional coverage on Cape Talk.
  • The CGHSPCA provided veterinary attention and assessments when Kataza was looking exhausted and stressed and again after he sustained injuries in dominance fights.
  • The CGHSPCA attempted to resolve the situation by inviting all role players to a meeting however only BoTS and BM attended.
  • CGHSPCA provided daily monitoring of Kataza to form their own, unbiased assessment of his integration process and sought permits from Cape Nature to relocate Kataza to Riverside in the event that this was his only option.
  • Experts from all over the world gave inputs and guidance.
  • Prime Crew’s Luzanne Kratz and the Riverside team of Bob, Lynne and Mias Venter travelled to Cape Town to provide support in areas they felt best able to make change.
  • Thanks to proactive support from Karen De Klerk (Cape Animal Welfare Forum), Mayor Plato and members of Mayco met with CAWF, BoTS, BM and CGHSPCA. At this meeting Mayor Plato directed Aldermen Nieuwoudt to form a task team to resolve on-going baboon management issues.
  • Media coverage was immense and Kataza featured on SABC2, ENCA, radio and newspapers both locally and around the world.

In essence, Kataza created the perfect storm and the combination of Ryno’s court case, the high level meetings and incredible, never waning public attention eventually resulted in the CoCT settling the court case with Ryno and resolving that Kataza should be returned to his Slangkop troop.
At no time did anyone ever forget the very real and unresolved issues of baboon management that urgently need to be reviewed and revised and this has remained our collective goal.

Kataza comes back!

Kataza was returned to his home range on 13 November and made his way across to the troop where he was seen for a short while.

We had so hoped that Kataza would simply re-join the troop however we knew that he would need a settling in period to readjust.  Although Kataza’s offspring had all been killed, he still has family members and bonds within the troop but after Kataza had been away for almost 3 months and he needs time to find peace and settle down. He has been seen in close proximity to the troop on a number of occasions, but has also been spending a lot of time on his own, but at least he is in his home turf and does appear more relaxed.

We have noticed that the service providers (both past and current) made no effort to deter Kataza from entering the urban areas.  When NCC started their contract they were actively making every attempt to keep Kataza out of suburbia, but now that he has been returned it seems that their efforts to deter Kataza  have stopped.  As the service providers follow instruction from the CoCT we can only wonder why they are not providing rangers to encourage Kataza away from human occupied space and back to his troop?   It cannot be about resources and budget as Baboon Matters offered to pay for the services of two off-duty rangers to assist in this re-integration process.  Needless to say, we are all watching closely and hoping for a smooth transition back to the troop.

It is Global Giving Tuesday on 1 December – that means every financial contribution you make to Baboon Matters on 01.12.20 will be matched by Global Giving.

Please support our on going efforts and Help Baboon Matters help baboons by donating via:

Changing baboon management

In communities there is more pro-active baboon action than I have ever seen!

In Kommetjie, local resident Mel Gouws quietly got on with the task of baboon proofing bins for her neighbours.  She has been helped by Sally Sivewright and Sam Hodgson and the Chacma Challenge is now underway; a project to get all communities to start active baboon proofing. Each village is encouraged to start baboon proofing and a leaderboard will soon be set up to see which village is being most proactive. Contact Sally Sivewright for all details. guardiansofthedeep@yahoo.com

In Simonstown resident Luana Pasanisi of the Green Group had educational signage designed and erected to warn visitors to the area that baboons live near to an increasingly popular hiking trail. Sadly, Luana was made to remove the signage by TMNP who, although they had been liaising with her for 3 years, had given no guidelines or parameters for the signage but objected that it did not comply to their regulations once it was erected.

In Bettys Bay,  it was fantastic to see Bettys Bay Baboon Action Group secure the support of international icons Dr Jane Goodall (who sent two letters) and Sir David Attenborough who are advocating for better baboon management specific to Bettys Bay, but their support is  equally important for all baboons.   

In addition, Dr Anthony Collins(Jane Goodall Institute) supported changing human behaviour as a better management action in his radio interview on Cape Talk. BBBAG are working hard with their municipality to adopt the “Shepherd don’t shoot” approach to baboon management in their area.

During the forthcoming school holidays, Guardians of the Deep (run by Sally Sivewright) is running fun eco-education holiday program for children of areas affected by baboons. Contact Sally for further information about the Chacma Champions via:

Funding SOS! 

After nearly 20 years we are facing closure due to lack of funding!  Please consider making a donation to enable us to continue working for baboons in crisis!

Lobbying and advocacy


In 2019 Baboon Matters and BoTS wrote to all the authorities calling for a workshop to review and revise the current management guidelines and protocols. Our appeal was taken up by Wildlife and Animal Protection Forum SA (WAPFSA) who wrote to Minister Bredel requesting a workshop to address the long standing baboon issues.  

Minister Bredel instructed Cape Nature to host the workshop we attended an initial meeting hosted by Cape Nature on 13 November.  It was disappointing that although the court case had been resolved, the CoCT delegate attending the meeting had been instructed not to participate in the meeting.  It was equally telling that UCT delegates had, apparently,  been advised by UCT not to attend this meeting. 

There appears to have been a pattern over the past few meetings whereby CGHSPCA, BoTS and BM consistently pitch up with willing to resolve matters, whilst key role players opt to not attend or not participate in meetings.

End of year thoughts…

As 2020 draws to a close, we will continue to keep a close eye on Kataza and all of our baboons and continue working with all interested stakeholders to find long term solutions for these persecuted primates.  

Baboon Matters thanks each and every one who has actively supported our hard work over many years and we are grateful that our role as lobbyists and advocates for baboons is providing such high levels of interest in baboons and change in both attitudes and management.

As a tiny NPO Baboon Matters is heavily reliant on public support to help us to help baboons and we are so grateful for the contributions we have received this year and we hope you will continue to support our efforts in 2021!


Have a beautiful Festive season and rest – and continue watching the baboon channels!

T-Shirts and
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Our super cool 100% cotton T-shirts and vests are your must have summer accessory! What a fab way to support Baboon Matters – and look good too!

Our Holiday Packs make a wonderful year end gift, for yourself or your besties – treat everyone you know!


Baboon Matters Donation Options:

SMS:  Baboons 42646

Donate via:  http://baboonmatters.org.za/donate/

Banking options:

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BaboonMatters Trust – Newsletter July 2020

BaboonMatters Trust – Newsletter July 2020

What an extraordinary year 2020 has been! 

The global pandemic and lockdown has affected all of us and I hope that you have been able to cope with the many challenges that have been coming our way.

When the Corona lockdown was announced on 23 March 2020, I wondered what impact this would have on baboons and baboon management. I was cautiously optimistic, thinking that as residents would be at home, have time on their hands and were having to be careful with food resources, this would mean that there would be a huge improvement in effective baboon-proofing of homes and general waste management, and that that in turn would make it easier for the service provider to keep the baboons out of urban areas.

Contrary to my optimistic hopes for a radical decrease in baboon activity in urban areas, the reverse happened; from WhatsApp groups (in urban areas overlapping with baboon troops) it seems that baboon activity has increased during the lockdown.  

In the village of Kommetjie, where I am based, baboons have visited the urban area almost every day since the lockdown began and sadly incidents of residents shooting at baboons with pellet guns, shotguns and paintball guns increased as did the numbers of dog attacks on baboons.

NIMBY – Not In My Back Yard.

Since 2010, Baboon Matters has been fighting against the use of paintballs and bearbangers, fighting for a review and revision of the management guidelines and protocols and fighting for ethical treatment of baboons. Although we have had on-going support from many residents who come into contact with baboons, the lockdown has demonstrated the NIMBY effect so well.

There is a direct correlation to NIMBY – when the baboons are seldom seen or in an area, few residents support calls to stop the use of paintballs on baboons and only some residents voice disapproval against the use of bearbangers or are opposed to the killing of individual baboons. But now that people have been forced to stay at home and have seen the daily onslaught of paintballing baboons and witnessed the stress, pain and chaos it causes, there is a great deal more pressure being brought to bear on the decision makers of the Baboon Technical Team (comprising members of the CoCT, Cape Nature, Table Mountain National Park, iCwild and The Cape of Good Hope SPCA) as well as in community ward councilors along the Overstrand and Garden Route.

The CoCT has finally acknowledged that the green garbage bins are an ongoing attractant to baboons but are not baboon proof.
We thank the residents who wrote and complained about the bins, the residents who were proactive in removing waste and adjusting bins so that there were no food rewards for the baboons in the bins and our thanks to the CoCT for this first proactive step in resolving the waste management problems affecting baboons.

Baboon Management rolled out in Overstrand.

There is an urgent need for change to the protocols and guidelines, and this must be addressed as a priority issue especially when one considers that the flawed system currently used in Cape Town is being rolled out many other areas in the Western Cape; there is a lot of work to be done reviewing and revising the guideline and protocols.

It is of deep concern that techniques such as the Virtual Fence (see link below for details) are being implemented in the absence of any EIA or any assessment to test the impact the VF has on other wildlife, and there must be significant impact on other wildlife because if the landscape of fear has forced baboons to flee an area it stands to reason that other wildlife will have experienced similar fear and would also move off.

We would all love to find the solution that keeps baboons out of human occupied areas, but it seems to me that we need to rely as much on our own actions (sensible baboon proofing options, waste management etc) as we do “other sources”. We cannot expect monitors/rangers, paintballs, bear bangers, electric fences or Virtual Fences to be effective if we are continuously leaving food in waste or providing attractants through our lifestyle choices.
There needs to be a comprehensive approach and co-operative planning whereas we are currently dealing with lack of transparency and selective participation processes.

Kommetjie residents recently participated in an on-line survey, it was interesting to note that there was a lot of support to stop the use of paintballs and great support for a workshop.  The full results of the survey can be seen at this link

(Anyone with the dropbox link should be able to access all the files)

For Information about the Virtual Fence follow this link.


Ethical Treatment of baboons

In areas where paintballs and bearbangers are deployed, residents have observed what they notice to be increased stress levels and we have all witnessed baboons either limping after having been hit with a paintball or rubbing the affected area; we cannot see the injuries as the baboons’ thick hair hides any obvious bruising and we would not see internal injuries.

Although we have raised our concerns to the various organisations we have had little success in moderating or preventing the use of either paintballs or bearbangers, so it was very interesting to read an article in National Geographic where the impacts of non-lethal weapons used to control crowds in the recent protest actions in USA were analyzed. (see link below)

Of particular interest were comments about paintball guns and use of sound explosions as deterrents :

On the use of rubber bullets:

Jennifer Stankus, a clinical faculty physician at the Madigan Army Medical Center Department of Emergency Medicine, likens it to getting shot with a paintball gun. Yet serious injuries from rubber bullets have been reported throughout their history. Studies of their use in the conflict in Kashmir have shown that rubber bullets can cause fractures,

Baboon Matters has been told by a reliable source that in 2016 – 18 rangers working with the southern troops were commonly firing between 20 000 – 30 000 paintball markers at baboons monthly.   An average of 1000 paintballs fired per day.

In the northern troops between 60 000 – 70 000 paintballs were fired at baboons monthly.

Notably, in one particular month when baboons were experiencing food scarcity after a fire had swept through their home range some months prior, 100 000 paintballs were fired at baboons to keep them out of urban areas.

Please note that this information has not been verified.

On the use of sound deterrents:

“Noise is a common tactic for clearing people out of an area, says Richard Neitzel, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health who studies the effects of noise exposure.”

More concerning, he says, are the potential effects of flash-bang grenades. These emit sounds upward of 170 decibels, which can cause immediate ear injury to anyone standing nearby—a risk that increases with the number of explosions.

The bearbangers deployed to scare baboons away from urban areas have decibel levels of 160 decibels, compared to the 170 decibel of the flash-bang grenades used to disperse crowds.

From the internet we discovered the following information:

It is clear from the National Geographic article that non-lethal methods of managing people do have potential to cause injury and yet we are using very similar tactics on baboons daily.
Around the world animal welfare advocates are examining management methods and working on laws and protection of wildlife and animals so that there are more humane methods in place – it is high time that the scientific advisors and the decision makers of the BTT review the “fear of landscape” tools and work towards meeting better management practice.


Paintball marker clear on the young baboon.

Injuries and deaths of baboons

A recent community meetings presentations made by icwild indicated that numbers of baboons killed through human actions was at it lowest under the management of the current service provider – as it should be with the staff and budgets available to prevent baboons coming into urban areas.

Despite the efforts of the HWS team, baboons are still being killed and injured and it is alarming to note that for the current year there are more recorded deaths than births.

The HWS population table shows that over the 7 years of their management, the total increase in the baboon population is 81 baboons in  the 11 managed troops; this means that, on average, each troop is increasing by just one baboon per year. 
Of course some troops show higher growth rates than others, but the Misty Cliffs troop has been eliminated completely, Zwaansvyk troop has decreased by 8 baboons and the CT1 & 2 troops have increased by only 1 baboon.

In her 2009 thesis, E. Beamish noted that the average annual mortality rate was 9%, but in the 2019 HWS Annual Report  the annual death rate was averaged at 12%.   It will be very interesting to compare the current count which was recently completed by E. Beamish of icwild, with the count undertaken by HWS field staff in 2019. We look forward to seeing the data.

Injuries and treatment for baboons

There have been a recent spate of injuries to baboons, most notably was the case of Twiggy. Twiggy had suffered untreated mange and an untreated abscess, and then brutal bite wounds inflicted by dogs;  Twiggy received no veterinary treatment and she and her young 7 – 8 month juvenile daughter were both “euthanised” instead of protocols being followed.

There was also a tragic case of where the only adult male of the GoB troop was fatally injured in a suspected MVA and he too was euthanised.

In other cases, baboons were attacked by dogs and the young female Betty suffered a head trauma that caused significant swelling to both eyes and she lost the right eye completely.  No veterinary treatment was given.

Stretch suffered major head trauma and severe wounds to his right arm.

Twiggy suffered untreated hair loss, abscess and suffered injuries
inflicted by dogs. Both she and her daughter were euthanized.

Baboon Matters and funding

Many NGO’s and organisations are battling with the implications of the global pandemic and resultant economic recessionary period, and so too is Baboon Matters. Our fund raising initiatives had to be put on hold as we could not do the printing and distribution of t-shirts and bags that we had planned.

We are so aware that it is a very tough environment but we do rely on support from the general public for us to continue our work for baboons and hope that you will continue to be one of our donors.

If you are able to assist Baboon Matters the 15 of July is a perfect day to help;
On the 15 July our friends at Global Giving will be matching all donations!


Please support Baboon Matters by making a donation via: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/stop-killing-baboons/

We are thrilled that Professor Lesley Green focused her sharp mind and dynamic thinking in a way that included baboons. Lesley’s latest publication  “Rock  Water  Life” is a book everyone should read  and we hope that her thoughts and narrative influence the much needed change in many ways,but particularly for the baboons. 

Rock Water Life is available from the Book Lounge in Cape Town and all major online book sales.

Lesley Green is deputy director of Environmental Humanities South. She is Professor of Anthropology in the School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and was a Fulbright Fellow at the Science and Justice Research Centre at U.C Santa Cruz in 2018. 

Waste management – Clean-up!

It was brought to our attention that during lockdown (in addition to usual roadside littering!) there had been a build-up of dumping that was attracting baboons to rummage through the waste.
Kommetjie and Scarborough residents were fantastic and the area was quickly cleared of tons of rubbish.

Sadly people continue to throw household trash, garden waste and fast food wrappings all over our scenic routes.  Our campaign to #Stowit Don’t Throw it is being widely shared but we really to need to reach even more people.


Funding SOS! 

After nearly 20 years we are facing closure due to lack of funding!  Please consider making a donation to enable us to continue working for baboons in crisis!

Baboon Matters Donation Options:

SMS:  Baboons 42646

Donate via:  http://baboonmatters.org.za/donate/

Banking options:

Standard Bank
Blue Route Mall
Acc No  2700 400 80


Kommetjie Community Meeting Baboon Management – 18 February 2020

Kommetjie Community Meeting Baboon Management – 18 February 2020

Almost 100 Kommetjie residents attended the recent community meeting hoping to hear what the management plan is for our Slangkop troop. The meeting was MC’d by Ward Councilor Simon Leill-Cock (SLC) with presentations by Prof J. O’Riain (JOR) and Human Wildlife Solutions (HWS) area manager Cath Shutte (CS).

Kommetjie CARBS (Councilor Appointed Representatives Baboons South) Susan Litten was instrumental in organizing the meeting and her efforts to proactively inform residents about baboons was acknowledged and thanked.

The meeting kicked off with a presentation by JOR who reminded attendees that many of us had sat in a similar meeting 8 years prior debating the same issues.

JOR spent a large portion of time dealing with the complex issue of pathogens and disease spread from baboons to humans and humans to baboons.  It is not clear why so much emphasis is given to this issue as the real risk of contamination is actually extremely  low, but just the notion of getting Hepatitis A from a baboon is enough to worry some residents and the inclusion of the corona virus in the presentation seemed a little irresponsible. (At the last community meeting where the pathogen data was presented a resident left with the idea that we were all going to get Ebola from the baboons…)

In truth you simply need basic hygiene and good old common sense; don’t go around handling baboon poo or saliva and if the baboons have left you a couple of calling cards, wear some gloves, dispose of the feces and then wash the space and your hands thoroughly.

I wish other issues raised could be dealt with as easily, but it seems that there were more questions than answers.  A number of the audience could not hear what was being said and left, some people left early as they felt it was “the same old thing” and a large portion attendees felt that issues were not taken seriously or were not answered.

Paintballing and Stress

One of the consistent themes raised however, was that people are unhappy about the excessive level of paintballing and the elevated risk to children, damage to property and the apparent negative effect it is having on the troop. The panel did not seem to think that the paintballing was problematic.

JOR responded to several expressed concerns about the welfare of the troop, explaining that samples of hormones from the da Gama troop were being analyzed and that would determine the baboon stress levels.  I am not sure if this data can be extrapolated to include all other troops? From what HWS presented it seems that the Slangkop troop has had an extended period of extremely stressful activity having been  reportedly hunted and harassed in the Ocean View area where they were kept for nearly three years. 

There was no data presented on how the Ocean View residents felt about having the baboons in their urban area for the past three years.

In reply to one question about the efficacy of the project and use of paintball guns,  JOR stated that this was the best run project of its kind in the world, but could not answer where else in the world animals or wildlife are actively herded using paintballs or against which other project this one was compared. 

Water Provisioning

Another of the concerns was the issue of the provision of water and the option of food provisioning to keep the baboons on the mountain.  The City Manager (Owen Wittridge – OW) stated that they were not allowed to put water on TMNP land.

Historically there were water points at different locations on Slangkop, the first point (at the Blockhouse) was found to be too close to the village and so the point was moved to a Jojo tank along the jeep track. This tank was destroyed in fires and Baboon Matters have repeatedly offered to replace it.  The problematic lack of water during the summer months has been acknowledged by the role players and water tanks were provided previously so it should be a task that could be speedily implemented.
JOR pointed out that there is water available to the baboons if they (the baboons) chose to go to Kleinplaas dam or to Lewis Guy dam – but would the baboons be “allowed” to go  to that area?  Their movements are heavily controlled and if the baboons were to go to water access points they would probably head back to the spring above the Rasta camp, an area densely invaded with rooikrans and difficult to manage the baboons in, as CS pointed out. 
The Slangkop troop could also look for water above Scarborough and Misty Cliffs, part of their  traditional home-range, but I am not sure either village would welcome another troop coming into their village. 

Water availability does not necessarily equate to baboons being allowed to utilize those sources.

Prior to the baboons arriving in Kommetjie I had offered suggestions as to where a water point might be placed, Baboon Matters had offered to pay for a Jojo tank and had liaised with the Volunteer Fire Fighters who had offered to fill the tank with water.  Instead the HWS staff elected to place a water point in the Soetwater campsite meaning that the baboons have to now cross a busy road to go down to a recreational site which, although it is quiet over large portions of the year, it is always exceptionally busy over long weekends and the Easter holidays.

It is not clear why TMNP are allowed to dictate the provisioning of water for baboons within this very unusual circumstance of a national park within a city (or city within a national park).  There are existing Heads of Agreement between the CoCT and SANparks and we are told that SANparks does have exceptions for parks that need water provisioning; why is the TMNP restriction not challenged or even put in the public domain for comment?  It does not appear to be a transparent decision.

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink..

Food provisioning?

The idea of food provisioning was dismissed, not only from the TMNP rules, but also as it is felt it that provisioning is not a long term solution.  Scientists generally hold the view that if provisioned,  the baboons would have increased fecundity levels and raise infants more efficiently.  What is not accepted by the academic sector is that baboons are already provisioned by human derived foods– through our waste, from our gardens and occasionally from our houses. 

Have the exceptional food rewards gained at the local food factory, over the past 15 years, shown any significant increase in fecundity and troop population? 
It does not seem so,  the Slangkop troop has only increased by 13 members in the twenty years of recorded data.  (In 1999 there was 1 adult male, 14 adult females and 15 immatures; compared to HWS 2019 counts, where 1 adult male, 17 adult females and 25 immatures were recorded). 
We know that there is a high mortality rate amongst the immature category of baboons and Slangkop is no different; as an example, the November 2019 HWS  report records 2 births and 2 deaths for the troop. The overall increase of 13 baboons over 20 years can hardly be considered a burgeoning population despite the fairly continuous access to human derived foods.

I am always astonished at the reluctance to trial provisioning; we are prepared to trial paintballing, bear bangers and virtual fences – why not provisioning? Why not give it a “proper” try?  The last experiment with the Waterfall troop could hardly be considered to be a significant trial as a mere handful of mealie kernels was used to lure the Waterfall troop away from the navy barracks where they can access loaves of bread and an abundance of fast food without too much effort.

I would think that if food provisioning worked, it might be a great deal easier for the service provider to ‘manage’ the troops with the least impact on other wildlife, and since the BTT are considering the implementation of birth control anyway, I don’t see how a potential increase in fecundity levels will impact the population? 
A benefit that provisioning may offer is the potential to eliminate the pesky pathogens and deal with mange out breaks etc. by introducing medication at provisioning sites as needed; this tactic is used by many research and rehabilitation centers so has merit worth exploring. If provisioning did not work or show any improvement in managing the troops, then at least the BTT could say “We told you so” but in the meantime, we continue to debate the concept.

It seems to me that as we are attempting to manage one of the most intelligent primate species alongside another intelligent primate; both living with urban encroachment and in the midst of climate change – surely we should not be dependent on the “old rules”, but should be exploring a range of options that do not revolve around hurting, dominating or killing wildlife?

Here’s what YOU can do to help Baboon Matters help baboons.




The community observed that the WhatsApp location group was very effective at warning residents that baboons were in the area so that they could “close up” and be prepared.  A suggestion that rangers could alert the WhatsApp group of the baboons location was dismissed as Dr Richardson stated that none of his staff has phones able to utilize WhatsApp and, therefore, could not warn the community when baboons were “on the way”.
In a positive response to this the residents undertook to warn each other of the baboons arrival through vuvuzelas and the Location Group.

Join the two Kommetjie Baboon WhatsApp groups for baboon locations and advice:

NO to killing our baboons

An issue that the residents were not prepared to negotiate, however, was that of killing so called “problem” baboons.  The meeting made it clear that none of the Slangkop baboons are to be singled out as more of a “problem” than others and that we do not accept any baboons being killed. SLC first agreed that no baboons would be killed but then said he could not be held accountable to management decisions of the troop. 
The meeting firmly endorsed that we will not accept any baboons being killed in terms of the protocols.

Help our baboons by helping us. For EVERY donation you make, we can keep our doors open and effect the changes the baboons need.

Fences – Virtual and Electric

The main focus of the evening was surely the discussion about use of fences, so much so that one resident expressed that he thought he had come to a sales pitch about electric fences…

Both JOR and CS detailed successes of the electric fences at Zwaanswyk and explained how the proposed fence would be positioned along the Kommetjie firebreak with the intention of keeping humans “in” and wildlife “out”.  Based on the information given at the meeting, the baboon proof electric fence does seem a good option but points of concern such as the on-going costs for the maintenance of the fence or replacement of the fence in the event of a fire were not answered fully.

It was noted that despite baboon proof electric fences at Constantia vineyards, specific vineyards still detail baboon incursions to such a degree that they were awarded permits to hunt baboons on their properties.

From the BTT team present, the main concern about the electric fence was not the impact on other wild-life (whom they feel would be safer out of the village) but rather the  cost of installation (costs of on-going maintenance were barely mentioned). 
It was made clear that Kommetjie residents are expected to pay for the fence and it is suggested that the money can be raised through the formation of a Special Ratings Area, whereby it is expected that “someone” would have to go door to door to obtain 60%  buy-in for this SRA. Once the SRA is established money is added to monthly rates and can be used for a variety of agreed community improvement projects. 

It took Zwaanswyk 5 years to get their SRA formed after which the fence funded and erected, how long would it take Kommetjie?  This would not be a quick solution.

Questions were asked about how a fence would affect the use of monitors and paintballing and it was noted that the overall budget costs would drop dramatically with fewer rangers and paintballs needed.

It seems that the CoCT and her expert decision makers have agreed that an electric fence is the preferred option, yet the city continue to spend millions of rand of rate payers money on a costly management system that many residents are unhappy with.  Why does the CoCT not reapportion the ranger budget, have fences erected at relevant locations and run a more cost efficient baboon response and maintenance project?

The alternative solution offered is that of the Virtual Fence, a system whereby (very simplistically)  baboons are collared and monitored; sound boxes are placed so that if the baboons cross a point extremely loud sounds of predator calls, animals in pain or other baboons fighting (for example) are played.  The concept is that when the baboons hear these distressing noises, but cannot see the source of the sound, they run away from the sounds.
Dr Richardson sited the on-going success of the Virtual Fence project in Gordons Bay, but skimmed over its partial success at the Simons Town Waterfall and Rocklands areas.  The recent use of the virtual fence in Hermanus was not mentioned; it seems that the virtual fence does not appear to be completely successful at this stage. 
It is understood that there are always going to be differing success rates for different “tools” used in baboon management and the virtual fence may be one of the tools that is exceptionally successful in some areas but not in others. 
What was not answered is, what is the impact on other wildlife when the loud distressing noises are played?  Surely bokkies and caracals would also be petrified and run away? Have there been any studies at all on the impact of the virtual fence on birds and wildlife?

Where is the Management Plan?

For me, the take out from the Kommetjie meeting the lack of an overall comprehensive management plan and this must be seen as a significant failure on behalf of the Baboon Technical Team.  The lack of a plan means that management is reactionary and repetitive as we deal with the same crisis on irregular basis.  JOR pointed out that we had all met 8 years prior yet we sat again for a couple of hours, heard the inputs, asked some questions and left; there is no real “tomorrow solutions” or way forward.

The lack of planning was illustrated through the presentation by HWS where a detailed map of “problematic areas” showed  areas where gangs of youth hunt the baboons, dog fighting occurs or the rangers are threatened.  HWS have been dealing with the problem for an extended period of time, yet there was no proactive plan to relocate the troop back to Slangkop, no community meeting prior to the move, no water provision, no baboon proof bins etc. 

We understand that the rangers had been held up at gun point and that the event exacerbated the move – yet the management team had been considering this move for months prior to the robbery, but simply had no proactive plans in place to ensure the troop moved back with minimal disruption to all the primates of the area.

The lack of a comprehensive management plan is highlighted by the lack of effective baboon proof bins, no by-laws, lack of effective on-going education, lack of signage and law enforcement.  It is astonishing that in 1998 when primatologists Kansky and Gaynor arrived in the area they immediately identified the need for proper plans and through collective efforts and minimal resources of the Baboon Management Team  significant steps were made to get compromise documents in place – we had the Brownlie Doc, the WWF Management Plan and Dr Kansky’s book on “Living with baboons” is still acknowledged as the most useful  baboon information document of its kind.

Baboon Matters, with support of the Wildlife  Animal Protection Forum  SA, has been requesting a moratorium and a workshop to review and revise the current management through an inclusive workshop.   It makes sense that this long running management project is objectively reviewed so that long term plans and a comprehensive (possibly compromise) document can be agreed on. At the moment we are hearing “bits and pieces” at community meetings where input from the BBT dominates and concerns, questions and ideas from the residents and stakeholders are kept to a minimum or are not answered fully.
There are some residents who feel frustrated that we have so many questions – but no solutions. But how can we arrive at fully understood solutions when we are not given all the information to make informed decisions? 
We hear that birth control is to be implemented,  yet our troops do not appear to have healthy ratios and there is grave concern about lack of genetic variation (we are in-breeding our baboons). We are told that electric or virtual fences are the best option – but no-one can tell us what impact the fences might have on our other wildlife neighbours, or (in the case of the electric fences) how they will be funded or maintained.


There has been much written on both social and printed media about the demise and loss of the Scarborough /Misty Cliffs troop, the situation is desperately sad and must be a wake-up call to all residents living in areas where baboons live too. 

As we face ever increasing urban densification and intensified land use, we have to ask what the best long term solution for the baboons will be.  Will we be looking at fences, birth control and provisioning or could we consider relocation of whole troops to be free roaming on safe land purchased for this specific goal?  I first suggested the notion of relocating four of the peninsula troops to the BTT in 2016, perhaps it is time that we collectively consider this option?

Kommetjie Baboon Task Team

A small group of residents have met to form a practical hands on task team, the goal being to try to minimize some of the high level attractants in the village.
We hope to have proactive signage, a MacGyver team to help adapt garbage bins to be baboon proof, cages to contain waste installed at local businesses and a water provisioning point installed on Slangkop.  The task team will also be looking at upgrading information brochures for residents and B&B’s.

If you could not attend the first informal meeting but want to help out with reducing the conflicts please email info@baboonmatters.org.za and we will gladly welcome your help.

Funding SOS!

After nearly 20 years we are facing closure due to lack of funding! Please consider making a donation to enable us to continue working for baboons in crisis!

Newsletter November 2019 – The Future of Baboon Matters

Newsletter November 2019 – The Future of Baboon Matters

In this Newsletter we explain why we made the announcement that Baboon Matters is closing down, provide an update on the Famous Four baboons of Scarborough and give an insight of what it is like to be a Cape peninsula male baboon. We normally send out our Newsletters three times during the course of the year, but since our newsletter of August 2019 there has been a lot of change in some areas and yet none on the more urgent issues, so we felt an update is necessary.

The Future of Baboon Matters

We have been alerting our followers for the past 18 months that our funding was running dry but it was only in August this year when the grim reality hit home, we had no money at all in our bank account and finally the crisis sunk in.

I have been toying with the idea of retiring for some time now; I have been working for baboons for almost 30 years and whereas in years gone by there was only Baboon Matters, but there are now other baboon groups and they are doing amazing work. It was in light of the dire funding and my own exhaustion that I made the announcement on Facebook that I was retiring.

The statement was met with a great deal of shock and many people messaging me asking me what could be done to change my mind; there were some very kind offers of assistance and a few gratefully received financial contributions. The NGO world is always a constant flux of energy and cash flow, so although the contributions were greatly appreciated, it was not enough to resolve the on-going financial problem…and yet I did make the decision to “do another few rounds in the ring”.

So what happened to change my mind?

Two things happened in quick succession, the first was the release of the 2019 census for the Cape peninsula baboon population (which illustrated how badly skewed this closed population is) and the other was the plight of one injured male baboon; George Jnr’s case demonstrated the urgent need to review and revise current management with specific regard to both dispersing males and waste management issues. Both of these instances remind me that I cannot turn my back on the baboons yet.

But to backtrack a little; at the end of 2014 Baboon Matters received a bequest from Joan Wrench and this amazing gift enabled us to get on with so many projects – we could go to Sabie when the huge trap cages were first reported and this trip led to the expose of the mass killing of hundreds of
baboons in the region and is an issue we are still fighting.
Joan’s bequest became the foundation of our operation and enabled us to go to Namaqualand to workshop with subsistence farmers during the drought, to Knysna to supply food for wildlife after the fires, for training monitors in Caledon and Greyton, for our education outreach, some rescues and also support for Prime Crew who look after the Gumble and Bean troop and other baboons rescued from the Western Cape.

A large part of our monthly costs have been travel as we try to get to baboons in need, such as the orphaned babies, trapped baboons, snared baboons and shot baboons. We have also attended the relevant workshops and conferences in SA. The impacts of runaway fires have been devastating in the past few years but time and travel to the Overstrand to check on the baboons also resulted in establishing closer relationships with villages now encountering baboons more frequently. In Greyton we helped the community get funding together to employ monitors and then trained their enthusiastic small team.

We encourage interest groups as they work to get proactive baboon management in place. A great deal of our work is advocacy; writing letters, objections, proposals, getting legal opinion and liaising with colleagues and experts to find solutions for the many problems resulting from baboon human interactions over SA. Another time consuming aspect is our educational outreach, not only physically going to speak to schools and interest groups but also through using our huge social media platform to teach people about the plight of baboons; our production of video and visual materials have been effective in reaching and, hopefully, educating many thousands of followers.

Our team at Baboon Matters has always been very small, being myself and Kathy Kelly since 2015 but in 2016/17 we increased our crew by two amazing people who worked part-time on out-reach and all of the activities described above.

We are lucky enough to have the support of a Cape Town philanthropic trust and we have also actively fund raised through our Global Giving Campaigns. In 2016 Woolworths sold the incredibly popular “baboon bags” throughout SA and the funds helped us with the projects outlined above.
We have always kept our costs as low as possible and paid the lower end NGO salaries for the very long hours of expertise and time put in to this trust.

Despite what many people may suggest, Baboon Matters is not hugely successful at fund-raising, and now that the bequest is finished we are battling, like so many NGO’s across SA, to stay afloat.

The “team” is now just me and there is simply too much work for one person to do, as well as fund-raise. And we do need funding to cover all the basic running costs such as transport, telephone, fuel, electricity, legal input and salary etc. in other words all the usual costs that are associated with a small organisation. If you truly would like to help Baboon Matters as we continue to try and help baboons, it is essential that you contribute towards our on-going running costs.

Please make a donation in any amount that you can afford, as either a once off contribution, or as a regular monthly payment. With your support I can carry on trying to advocate for change, supply innovative educational material and help baboons in crisis.

Here’s what YOU can do to help Baboon Matters help baboons.



Male Baboons of the Cape peninsula

The plight of male baboons on the Cape peninsula is a particularly problematic management issue as well as being deeply emotive. Most residents on the Cape peninsula will tell stories of their favourite male baboon; we all have an Eric story, or relate how Fred was so adept at getting into vehicles to steal bags of food. Dodger won over a lot of hearts when he tried to join troops in Tokai and reports of Dodger calmly walking across immaculate gardens or roosting in a tree at night illustrated how he had endeared himself to many residents.
Most recently video footage of Mr. Spaghetti went viral as the charismatic baboon sat at a restaurant table and polished off a plate full of spaghetti.

Although many people love the opportunity to see baboons, they are not safe in urban areas. The very small percentage of people who hate baboons will be the ones to shoot or poison these opportunistic animals.Situations of conflict arise when dogs attack baboons or where baboons are cornered. Reports of perceived “aggression” from baboons means they will be killed under the management guidelines.

Sadly, male baboons are highly persecuted animals and despite a reported population growth on the Cape peninsula, it seems that few baboons reach adulthood. The latest census shows the exact same number of adult males in both northern and southern populations and bizarrely both population
groups have the exact same number of adult females. Of concern are the ratios of males to females which are now badly skewed with some troops showing only 1 male to 17 females (ideally it should be 1 adult male to 3 adult females). In addition most troops have few or no sub-adults, indicating that high numbers of immatures are not surviving.

The 2019 census shows that there were just 9 adult male (AM) baboons in the 6 managed baboon troops in the Southern population. This is an increase of only 3 AM since 1999 when 6 AM were counted in these troops.

The northern population (Tokai, Constantia, Zwaanswyk and Mountain troops) also have only 9 AM, a massive drop in numbers from the 31 AM counted in 2015. It is of concern to note that since the June 2019 census another 6 males have been killed under management guidelines, co-incidentally 3 males from the each population group (north and south).
We do not know if Mr Spaghetti is still alive but we do know that that are at least 4 other adult males considered to be “problem” baboons so we expect to see them listed on the death lists in coming months.

In addition to the 6 adult males killed for management; 4 adult females were killed by dogs and 1 died of a pellet wound, 1 elderly baboon male disappeared and the overall numbers of baboons being killed in 2019 is almost 25% higher than baboon births.

The current management system targets male baboons just a badly as the pre baboon management era of the 1990’s when the numbers of adult males were so low that there were concerns about genetic viability and the survival of baboons on the peninsula.

The males are targeted because when they reach sexual maturity, adult males disperse from their natal troops and seek out a new troop to join. In the time that they spend alone the public perception that they are “rogues” exacerbates their plight. As the lone males wander through the now built up urban areas looking for a new troop, they find easy food rewards in our gardens and in our waste, even opportunistically taking food from open houses; they are quickly noted as “problem raiding baboons”, meaning that they will be killed under the current management guidelines.

The fact is that if a male baboon leaves his natal troop here on the Cape peninsula he has few options other than to traverse urban areas and a lone baboon is, typically, difficult to keep track of or “herd” away from the urban environment. Normally, the dispersing males stay out of trouble, they are vulnerable without troop support and so they tend to avoid conflict, but people frequently mistake a “fear grimace” (when the baboon pulls his eyes and ears back and exposes his teeth) as aggression, but in truth he is probably more scared than the person seeing the “fear grimace”.

It is also easy to understand how a baboon arriving unannounced over a garden wall may give the home owner a fright, but this behaviour is not and should not be reported as an “attack”. A particular concern is that one of the “assertive behaviours” noted against baboons by the current management system is if a baboon enters an “occupied’ home to get food. In most instances a baboon will not know that there are people in the house, if you are in the lounge watching television, for e.g and a baboon sees an open window or door to the kitchen, a fruit bowl on the counter or vegetables in a basket, he will enter with the intention of taking some high value food. The “raiding category” of entering an occupied dwelling needs to be carefully examined and revised and only noted if a baboon actively pushes past home owners to gain entry to the house.

In the past a prerequisite was that complaints about aggressive baboon behaviour should be accompanied by an affidavit from the complainant, this needs to be enforced. With few adult males and few sub-adult males (according to the 2019 census) it is clear that the current management system is “failing the males” and the knock on effect is that there are now badly skewed ratios of male to females. What is the longer term outlook for such a heavily managed, closed population?

In 2008 geneticist Dr T. Newman confirmed the lack of genetic diversity within the Cape baboon population, since then nearly 80 males have been killed under management guidelines and with no “new” genetic input coming into the closed population the situation can only be getting worse.

Whenever we engage with conservation organisations we are reminded of the “precautionary approach” in conservation management; it seems to me that this very approach should be applied to the management of the Cape peninsula baboons . The lack of genetic depth in this population group has been noted with concern and yet the consequences of continually reducing the numbers of breeding adults from this closed population do not appear to be taken into account as both adult males and adult females are killed for adjudged “problematic raiding behaviour” and numbers of baboons killed by simply living in close proximity to a busy urban area are continuous.Baboon Matters, along with many conservation and animal welfare groups, have been calling for a workshop to review and revise current management systems and protocols and the 2019 census indicates that the workshop should be regarded as a matter of urgency.

We cannot continue to keep killing baboons for raiding into uncontained waste or for situations that may arise as a result of attractants pulling them into proximity with people.

There needs to be a comprehensive management plan for this closed baboon population which is now being managed as two separate groups, with the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve regarded as a third, separate population. Flags have been raised by more and more organisations and groups who note that it seems that the intention of the collective BTT is to remove the baboon population through continued attrition of individuals – will the BTT take note or simply put their heads down and carry on?

Help our baboons by helping us. For EVERY donation you make, we can keep our doors open and effect the changes the baboons need.


Colleagues liaising on baboon management are all commenting on the on-going lack of transparency and planning. It seems that baboon management decisions are increasingly closed to input from the public and the minimal public participation process is frustrating to stakeholders and I&APs.

In 1998 there was the collaborative Baboon Management Team, a body made up of community representatives and members of relevant departments from Cape Nature, the City of Cape Town (municipality reps), the Navy and later the new Table Mountain National Park. There is simply too much detail to go into, but it is noteworthy that the Brownlie Document (1998) and the WWF funded management plan (2002) both originated from the collaborative BMT.

At the time one significant problem was that TMNP would not sign off on any of the management documents and there was debate about the “responsibility” for the baboons and therefore responsibility for budget to manage baboons.This issue has never been resolved, despite a very costly court case, and to date there is no management plan for our Cape peninsula baboon population.

In 1998, when Dr. Ruth Kansky suggested the use of “monitors” to keep the baboons out of villages, the idea was trialled on the Slangkop troop and proved to be effective, but none of the authorities would fund the project. For the next ten years baboon management was heavily reliant on the fundraising efforts from the joint BMT, from Baboon Matters and community groups collecting contributions from residents. It was through these stalwart efforts that full time monitors started working in Slangkop, then Da Gama Park in 2002 and finally in Scarborough in 2003/4.

The BMT recognised the need for education and Dr Kansky’s IFAW funded “Baboons on the Cape peninsula” was produced and distributed to all homes in baboon affected areas. To this day Dr.Kansky’s book is still widely regarded as the best guide for residents living in close proximity to baboons and should be republished and distributed widely. Baboon Matters continued the educational outreach through our very popular printed newsletters, talks and walks.

Fast track to 2009: When it was finally accepted that management could not be reliant on fundraising efforts of Baboon Matters and residential groups, the CoCT allocated sufficient funds to run the baboon monitor project, including all Tokai and Simons Town troops (where previously there had been no management unless residents or Baboon Matters provided short term relief from negative baboon human conflicts).

The city based funding brought a change in management style; the NSPCA accepted the use of paintballs to herd the baboons and lethal management was introduced through the Protocol for managing raiding baboons (this document has no legal standing and is considered to be “a management guideline”).
Further change came in 2010 when management separated into the Baboon Liaison Group (the civic voice) and the Baboon Technical Team (CoCT, Cape Nature, TMNP with guidance from the UCT Baboon Research Unit and the SPCA). The two sectors were supposed to meet regularly and the BLG
was supposed to feed back to the community, yet minutes of meetings were never provided on request.

From 2010 Baboon Matters was not part of the BLG or BTT as we did not agree with the lethal management nor the subsequent introduction of a landscape of fear. We continued to raise concerns and objections and had to resort to PAIA to gain information that should be open access documents. At the beginning of 2018 we were told that the BLG had broken down due to “personality clashes” within the group. It is noteworthy that none of the current baboon NGO’s or groups had been part of this management system for some years.
Recognising that I&AP’s, stakeholders and civic groups should have a voice in how our baboons are managed, efforts were made to establish a system to liaise with the BTT. It was concerning to note that this inclusive initiative was channelled into the non-inclusive CARBS (Councillor Appointed Representatives Baboons South).

Notably, specialist baboon groups were omitted from the selection and actively denied the right to attend meetings.
The CARBS process is reportedly being run as a Protected Areas Act Committee (PAAC) which should mean that any I&AP, stakeholder or interest group can sit on the committee, but when requests were made to join the PAAC there was a bit of back-tracking and it seems the new CARBS system may not be PAAC after all.

The lack of inclusivity in the carefully selected group defies constitutional rights and so far there is nothing to suggest that future management decisions will incorporate the public voice. We hope that the process will be addressed in a workshop we are, collectively and inclusively, requesting of the BTT.

The word frustrating comes up again as this scenario is a shocking illustration of how poor management decisions have disastrous long term consequences.

In 1998 Dr Gaynor advocated for an electric fence along the boundary between Scarborough and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.This pre-emptive measure would probably have prevented the Groot Olifantsbos baboon troop habituating to the rich rewards of village life.

The fence was not installed and when service providers HWS actively pushed for the electric fence to be installed in 2014 – 2015 the idea was, again, not taken up. From reports, it seems that residents did not want the electric fence and the complication of multiple land-owners meant that there had
to be an agreement in place regarding installation, maintenance and importantly – who pays for what?

Whilst the electrification of the fence line was not an option, the landscape of fear and lethal management methods were in place and in the period 2013 – 2018, 7 of the Misty Cliffs troop of 18 baboons had been killed under the management guideline. Other mortalities were as a result of
shootings (2 baboons killed) and electrocution (1) and poison (1). Unusually, 2 of the well-known male baboons simply disappeared never to be seen again and so the troop of 18 was reduced to just 6

At the start of 2019 the 3 remaining adult females each had a juvenile, but by June 2019 2 of the juveniles had been killed and there was talk of the small group of 4 baboons being “euthanised” in terms of the management guidelines. Save Scarborough Baboons managed to secure a moratorium on killing the girls until 30 September 2019.

In the months that followed there has been a huge amount of effort from residents, from the baboon groups and from the concerned public to find out what is actually happening and what could be a viable outcome for the small group. At the time of writing, BTT had not provided a proposal, plan, public meeting or any proactive suggestion to resolve the concerns.
The community have been effectively disenfranchised through this lack of public participation yet are expected to help find, and fund, a solution to a problem that is widely accepted to be the result of “management failing these baboons”.

Baboon Matters has written numerous emails requesting information but, along with other deeply concerned groups, we have no information. The most obvious solution would be the electric fence, but for reasons unknown it seems the fence will not be installed any time soon. One group is reportedly petitioning the national minister for help, and Scarborough residents task groups are trying to ascertain if funding for the electric fence could be forthcoming from the resident rate base.

We believe that Cape Nature has indicated willingness to provide permits for the four to be relocated to a sanctuary – but not in the Western Cape. There has been some talk of a private safari park taking the girls, but we have not seen any plan or confirmation of this option either.

So there are some ideas, but, at the time of writing this newsletter, nothing more. None of the baboon rehabilitation facilities (all situated in the northern provinces) have immediately available enclosures suitable to four free roaming baboons and so the relocation option would have to include the costs of building an enclosure, a task I believe the BTT must be held responsible for; it was after all poor management decisions that led to this situation, yet indications are that the NGO sector are expected to fundraise for the bulk of relocation costs (being the building of the enclosure and provision of food and vet care for the rest of the girls’ lives). If the NGO sector and general public are to raise the necessary funds, then surely the BTT must make this known officially, with a time line, with some sort of plan that we agree to?

There has been much in the social media about the four females returning to their “family” and remaining “wild and free” in the CGHNR. But which troop is the “family” troop? There has been recorded splitting within the GOB from as early as 2008, and by 2013 the Misty Cliffs troop was being recorded as a separate troop. If the natal troop of the 4 survivors is the Misty Cliffs troop, well they have all been killed; if the natal troop is GOB (and the girls do return to the GOB troop from time to time) then we can assume that the 3 adult females are probably lower ranking as it would be unusual for a high ranking female to leave her natal troop. Within either of these scenarios there is not much to suggest that the 4 individuals have strong bonds that would encourage them to stay with GOB and it is more likely that a young dispersing male would join them in Scarborough if the chance arose.

It must also be acknowledged that in the past 3 years the girls have become “residents” of the villages of Scarborough and Misty Cliffs; their offspring have been born in the villages and know no other life. For me it is dreadfully sad that this group has no semblance of normal baboon life – they do not spend time together unless at the sleep sites, they do not spend hours relaxing and grooming which is an important part of baboon social behaviour and activity. They do not get to forage on the intertidal zone, nor does the surviving juvenile Skye have troopmates to interact and play with and there is no male to safe guard the troop or to mate with. This unusual existence has lasted for nearly 3 years – why would anyone want this for baboon? For baboons, social structure, interaction – even the daily soap-opera squabbles – are all vitally
important. If you love baboons you would want them to have that life, not a life hiding out in a village, walking alone, being chased by paintball guns, herded to an area where you choose not to be.

So, for me the question is what is the best possible chance for these four baboons, who have no apparent bonds to GOB, to find some semblance of baboon life. If there was an electric fence, I don’t think the girls would re-join GOB permanently. As I suggested above, it is more likely that a young dispersing male would join the girls and they may continue as a small splinter troop.

If the electric fence was in place this should pose no real problem as the group would be within the reserve, but the TMNP has made it clear they do not wanted habituated baboons “teaching” non-habituated baboons to raid. The TMNP have indicated that they will not allow an habituated splinter troop to remain in the reserve and I have seen nothing to suggest the girls will unlearn their entrenched behaviour in such a way that could be acceptable to TMNP.

Although Baboon Matters would prefer all baboons to be free roaming and have agency to go where they want, when they want to; we recognise that the management options pursued by the BTT has created the situation whereby the four individual females will have little chance of joining a troop and living a “normal” baboon life unless it is within the safety of a sanctuary.

It is beholden on the BTT and residents to ensure that we provide the best possible scenario for them to live out their lives in such a sanctuary space and every effort must be made to ensure that there is a suitable enclosure and provision for food and vet care. Baboon Matters and other groups have been writing and objecting about the lack of a management plan and about the need to revise the systems, it must be clear that what happened to the Misty Cliffs troop is being played out in other scenarios – look at the Constantia troops as an example.

The lack of trust and transparency is a bitter reflection of the disparity between management and the public opinion; starting with the introduction of lethal protocol, exacerbated when 20 or 30 or 40 baboons went missing in Constantia in 2018 and now at a tipping point of frustration as we await the outcome of the Famous Four.

On Friday 1 November the CoCT hosted a feed-back meeting in Scarborough where we hoped the final decision for the four baboons would be made known. Presentations made by members of the Baboon Research Unit and the CoCT management reasoned that the four baboons could not remain living in the village and that although an electric fence was the preferred option there was not a required 60% resident buy-in to implement the electric fence. Without the electric fence the CoCT concluded that there were only two options available to the four; being relocation to a sanctuary (if one would agree to take them) or euthanasia. It was disappointing that after having waited so long for a public meeting the questions were limited to just 5 which clearly did not allow time to discuss or debate alternative options or the conclusion arrived at by the closed team.

We will keep you posted as this situation unfolds.

Funding SOS!

After nearly 20 years we are facing closure due to lack of funding! Please consider making a donation to enable us to continue working for baboons in crisis!