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with CoCT rangers and illustrates that the troop was included in management plans and budgets – why the service was withdrawn is not clear.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.