Rogue baboons cause for concern

2016-03-30 14:20
A new committee has been established to manage human and baboon relations in Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

A new committee has been established to manage human and baboon relations in Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Pietermaritzburg - The owner of the Richmond farm where a baboon attacked two children on Friday has said he loved wildlife but not to the extent where it would harm another human.

Progress farm owner David Aadnesgaard had 14 baboons released on to his farm by wildlife rehabilitation organisation Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (Crow) in 2013.

Last Friday, a male baboon attacked two children, leaving six-year-old Seluleko Xaba in a critical condition in Edendale Hospital.

Aadnesgaard said Crow, along with the KZN Premier Willies Mchunu and others, would be meeting this Friday to discuss whether the troop should either be relocated or destroyed.

Aadnesgaard said the vicious attack on the child was tragic and an armed guard had been stationed outside the homestead where the attack happened to prevent other baboons from potentially entering the kraal.

The shaken family of the six-year-old boy who was attacked by the baboon last Friday said Seluleko would have died if it had not been for his young cousins who tried to fight off the baboon while it was attacking the small boy.

Seluleko’s grandmother Eunice Xaba said the baboon first appeared on Tuesday on the roof of one of the houses in the kraal.

“I immediately called the owner of the farm and he sent one of his workers who chased the baboon away,” she said.

Eunice said the baboon did not stay frightened for long and was back at the homestead the next day.

“At first it looked through the window. It then came inside and opened a pot which had sour porridge. The sour porridge was still hot at that time, so it went for the dog food instead.

“I phoned the owner who sent his son to come and shoot it. The son missed and when it came back that afternoon I chased it away with some firecrackers,” she said.

Eunice said the baboon was back again on Thursday and she chased it again using firecrackers.

“On Friday when I arrived at church I got a phone call that the baboon had attacked my grandchildren,” she said.

Aadnesgaard said the baboon had been shot and killed shortly after the attack. He then threw it into the Umkomaas River.

He said Seluleko had been taken to a local clinic for treatment and Aadnesgaard loaded the baboon on to the back of his bakkie and placed the boy’s injured cousin who had also been bitten inside the bakkie.

He rushed the cousin Sinenhlanhla Mkhize (10) to the clinic and took the baboon into Richmond with the intention of having it tested for rabies.

He said he was approached by numerous people who wanted to buy baboon parts and decided to then throw it into the river where it could not be reached.

Aadnesgaard said he had offered the family financial assistance with hospital fees, and said although he was not required to do so, he was able to help and would assist where possible.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

BABOONS are incredibly intelligent and highly perceptive animals.

If confronted by a baboon it is important to remember the following simple guidelines:

• Try to stay calm, avoid eye contact and do not run.

• Speak calmly and sternly, but do not scream.

• If you are carrying anything in your hands, drop it immediately and back away. It will be examined and, if it is not edible, it will be dropped.

• Never corner a baboon. Move away as quickly as possible allowing the baboon an escape route.

• As with any wild animal, never try to touch or stroke it and never, ever feed it, said Crow director Claire Hodgkinson. — Witness Reporter.

ACCORDING to KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, when Seluleko arrived at hospital, the inner layer of his lungs could be seen from the gaping wounds.

Dhlomo and KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu visited Seluleko at Edendale Hospital yesterday where he is receiving treatment at the intensive care unit.

Edendale Hospital director Zanele Ndwandwe said Seluleko’s back was ripped apart from the vicious attack.

Ndwandwe said Seluleko’s cousin, who was also attacked in the same incident, was also on pain control.

“Her injuries are on the right thigh where there is swelling.”

She said she was seen in the emergency room and her wounds were dressed.

Mchunu said he would be referring the matter to the Human Rights Commission.

“We want them to come and investigate the possibility of human rights violations arising from putting people together with animals in the manner that has happened in that particular farm,” he said.

Mchunu said they would be launching a probe that would reveal if any environmental laws were broken when the baboons were brought to the farm in 2013.

Mchunu added that he will also refer the matter to Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Cyril Xaba to intervene as the farm has been under claim for quite some time.

KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife spokesperson Musa Mntambo said yesterday that Ezemvelo gave permission in 2013 for the 14 baboons to be released on to Aadnesgaard’s farm.

“A thorough inspection of the farm was done before the permit was issued,” said Mntambo. — Witness Reporter.

CROW director Claire Hodgkinson said they were “deeply saddened” to learn of the attack on the farm in Richmond.

She said Crow released 14 baboons who had undergone rehabilitation af-ter being found orphaned or injured in parts of KZN and the Eastern Cape onto Aadnesgaard’s property in November 2013.

“Each of the 14 baboons in the troop were rescued and admitted to Crow individually,” she said.

“The majority of the baboons admitted to Crow come in as orphans after their mothers have been shot by farmers or they have been confiscated by wildlife authorities from people who intend to sell them to the muthi trade.

“Injured baboons are given medical treatment by the Crow team and, once recovered, are slowly introduced and merged to form a viable troop.

“Once bonded as a troop they can then be released back into the wild.”

She said conflict between people and wild animals is an ongoing struggle throughout Africa and the world.

“Sadly, this is not the first incident where a person has been attacked by a baboon in South Africa,” she said.

“In 2006 alone there were two incidents where people were attacked by baboons, a four-year-old boy in Cape Town and a 42-year-old man in the Eastern Cape.

“In this latest incident, it is our understanding that children from the area had been trying to feed the baboon in the days leading up to the event.”

She said there were several wild baboons in the Richmond area, in addition to the troop of 14.

“The release site was inspected and approved by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, who oversaw the release operation on the day and issued the necessary permits for Crow to carry out the release which was done in consultation with surrounding farm owners and workers.”

She said since the release, the baboons had been closely monitored by the farm owner and his staff and Crow staff had done several post-release site visits. “In the two-and-a-half years since their release, Crow has not received any complaints from farm owners or workers regarding the baboons.

“While it is not clear if the baboon was one of the baboons released by Crow or one of the existing baboons living in the area, Crow has offered its advice and full support to the investigations which are now taking place into this unfortunate incident.”

Hodgkinson said it was “highly unlikely that a baboon would attack a person unless they were provoked”.

“It is our understanding that the children in the village where the attack took place had been trying to feed the baboon a few days prior to the attack.”

— Witness Reporter.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  attack  |  animals

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