Management Overview and Funding Appeal
Holly and her young daughter Cheeky. Holly has suffered an injury to her face that is consistent with a bullet entry.
MANAGEMENT OF CT2 TROOP CONSTANTIA
Map supplied by CoCT at a public meeting. The map indicates CT2 movements with CoCT rangers and illustrates that the troop was included in management plans and budgets – why the service was withdrawn is not clear.
With no rangers to mitigate conflicts and keep both baboons and residents safe, the troop was left to their own devices and started to obtain easily available foods from human-occupied space, including homes. Residents were unprepared for the ongoing incursions of baboons into their homes and properties (most residents have 3 or 4 garbage bins that are often full of organic waste, as well as prolific fruit and vegetable gardens) and as a result of fear and frustration started “taking matters into their own hands”; people started using paintball guns, pellet guns and high calibre weapons against the baboons. (One baboon was shot and died, one was knocked over by a vehicle, one disappeared and several have what appear to be bullet or pellet injuries). Community intervention.Members of the Tokai Baboon Action Group and Baboon Watch WC started daily shifts whereby they stood guard to warn motorists of the nearby baboons, this was in an effort to prevent a serious traffic accident as the baboons were continually running back and forth across the very busy, winding roads of Rhodes Drive, Constantia Nek and Southern Cross Drive.In addition to their own efforts on the roads, Baboon Watch WC and Tokai Baboon Action Group also raised money for two previously unemployed men to assist with alerting traffic to the presence of the baboons and the men provided much-needed support. The volunteers were amazing and covered daylight hours, in all weather conditions, for over six months; however, the continual stress of baboons in danger on the roads, being shot at, injured and killed was overwhelming and so Baboon Matters offered help to see if we could fund monitors to keep the troop off the roads and out of houses whilst the authorities resolved long outstanding issues. Our first team of monitors came from the local community and were all employed as baboon rangers at a nearby vineyard; they were working with the CT2 troop on days off to supplement their income. Their knowledge of baboons and the area was invaluable but it proved impossible to work in two high-energy jobs at the same time.
Baboon Matters then brought in our most experienced ranger, Mzukisi Nkewu, to work with Benson Chipasula (who had gained experience working with the TBAG) to set up two teams of monitors. Our monitors do not use paintball guns or aversion tools but rely on understanding the baboons and strategizing how best to redirect the troop to areas where they will have plenty of food and water and will be safe from traffic and shooters. Success of this interim project:There is no doubt that since these two teams started in December 2022, the number of incursions into homes has dropped significantly with only two known home entries in this time frame; this is a marked difference from the time prior to our teams when residents were reporting daily home incursions, high levels of frustration and damage to property, apart from the loss of life and injuries to the baboons. The baboons do continue to traverse properties to get from areas such as De Hel across Rhodes Drive and into Cecelia Forest, and they do utilize the copious fruits grown in this area, including the grapes on the Constantia Glen vineyards; however, they are under the constant supervision of the monitor teams and when they cross the busy roads the monitors provide clear warnings to the traffic. We are aware that (at least) 5 residents continue to shoot at the baboons so all necessary affidavits, reports and chargers have been laid with SA Police and relevant authorities. The combined efforts of all groups (TBAG, Baboon Watch WC, Baboons of the South and Baboon Matters Trust) have created a high level of awareness for the project and we have funded radios, basic uniforms and awareness equipment (flags and reflective vests). Baboon Watch WC has started a WhatsApp Alert Group so that residents know where the baboons are and can be prepared in the event the baboons do come onto their property; more residents are now allowing the teams onto their private property so that the monitors can effectively redirect the baboons back into Cecelia Forest or the green belt areas. We have had meetings with numerous landowners and there is now a far better level of cooperation and understanding; some landowners have worked with the volunteers to cut back access points to prevent the baboons from entering specific areas and a local vineyard has worked with the teams to allow the monitors onto the vineyards to quickly and effectively get the baboons back into either De Hel or Cecelia Forest.
Help the CT2 monitor troop!
EVERY donation you make keeps the men on duty and look after the baboons.
On-going concerns:Our fundraising drives have provided less than a third of the required running costs and over the past six months, Baboon Matters has been able to cover the remaining costs but is not in a position to continue funding what was intended to be an interim project while the authorities resolve their combined Strategic Management Plan. We note that when the CoCT recently extended the current baboon management project, management of the CT2 was not included in that budget. Baboon Matters and Baboons of the South had a subsequent meeting with the Mayoral heads of staff about this (and other) issue(s), but at this stage, there is no commitment from the CoCT to provide funding for the CT2 teams. We are concerned about the reasoning behind this decision and worried about the implications for the troop if they are not managed. Potential development:The project desperately needs a project manager and we would like to appoint Andile Nazo to this position where we believe he would excel. Establishing a new home range for CT2We would love to have additional resources and manpower so that we can work longer hours to try and establish security for the troop within a new home range and we believe that Orange Kloof could provide a potential new range for the troop. Efforts in this direction are often thwarted by the very high levels of activity on the mountain paths especially over the weekends and holidays when there are a lot of dog walkers enjoying the natural area; to establish awareness and cooperation we have reached out to hiking groups and the dog walkers association and have made educational pamphlets and signage, our intention being to find an agreeable way for dogs and walkers to enjoy the mountain but not impact negatively on the baboons. When they were in season, the attraction of the grapes in the vineyards also exacerbated efforts to keep the troops in the Orange Kloof or Cecelia Forest, but the monitors continued to effectively redirect the troop across the roads without incident. We believe that with additional resources the troop would stay in the Orange Kloof area long enough for them to feel secure in the largely unknown terrain and that if they remain there for extended periods the vegetation and water availability should provide ample forage for this small troop.
Map of indicating safe areas for the CT2 troop
5th February 2023, Holly appeared weak and listless, we were concerned for her survival. But after monitoring her closely we realised there was no reason to intervene and left Holly to the careful ministrations of her daughter, Cheeky.
We currently have two teams, each team comprising three experienced men on duty daily. The teams work from 07.00 – 18.00 (this changed in winter months) in a rolling shift so that they are not working overtime. Ideally, we would love an extra person on each team and at least one hour of overtime per team daily. Our daily costs are R1050 for the monitors (R350 p.day per person) and R400 for transport, making a total of R1450 per day or R43 500pm on a 30-day month.
Overview of Successes
- House incursions have been reduced from an almost daily occurrence to just two incidents in the six month period our monitors have been working.
- In separate events the monitors found stolen property on the mountain and have also apprehended a known criminal, leading to his arrest.
- There have been no fatalities from road incidents.
- Habitual shooters have been reported and affidavits handed over to the police; the general public as well as baboons are at risk when residents use high powered weapons to randomly fire at baboons.
- We hope for a prosecution in the incident whereby monitors were denied access to a property (to safely and efficiently redirect the troop) and instead a young baboon was shot and subsequently euthanised as a result of the shooting.
- The troop is spending more and more time in Cecelia Forest and Orange Kloof and we are pleased to note that this week they roosted in Cecelia Forest on three consecutive nights, this is an important breakthrough in the management.
- Community liaison is rapidly improving, although funding remains low.
- seven worthwhile, experienced and hard working men will lose their income
- there will be a sharp increase in the numbers of baboons injured or killed by either intolerant residents who use high powered weapons to shoot at the baboons and in particular the three newly born baboons would be at high risk on the roads.
- the risk of injury to a member of the public when residents randomly shoot high powered weapons at baboons.
- the probability of a serious road accident if a speeding motorist swerves to miss a baboon cannot be overlooked
- damage to property will increase
- frustrated residents will once again take use all media platforms to call for the CoCT and partners of the Joint Task Team to provide management – or remove the troop
Conclusion.There can be no doubt that a troop of baboons left to wander the busy, winding roads and suburbs without any form of management will result in high levels of stress and conflict resulting from fear and from damage to properties residents experience; the elevated stresses inevitably results in injury or loss of life to the baboons. It is essential that the CT2 troop is allocated project funding as one of the eleven managed troops, as they have been since the inception of baboon management. I hope that immediate emergency funding will be made available from the CoCT and TMNP so that the troop is effectively and ethically managed whilst the transition period and new management plan is resolved. We hope that the Joint Task Team currently working on the SMP will take note of the necessity to provide effective, well-trained monitors who do not need to use aggressive methods or pain aversion to redirect baboons away from areas where there may be conflict. Baboon Matters cannot continue to fund this work but the project is too important to be allowed to end as it proves daily that non-aggressive management is not only possible but is successful. The project is also illustrating the possibility of establishing habituated troops in new viable home ranges. This pilot project is a success story that the City of Cape Town should embrace and uphold, and the high levels of awareness for the troop and monitors will add positive value to the ongoing funder(s) of this project. We will continue to explore all avenues to raise funds for this vital project noting that we are providing employment for deserving men who have shown an exceptional willingness to work with the baboons.
EFT: Bank Details: Baboon Matters TrustStandard Bank Blue Route Account: 2700 400 80