Civic reps, activists can be part of solution

2019-08-27 06:01

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A persistent challenge for Peninsula baboon management is that civic reps misunderstand their role in the human-baboon conflict.

They need to focus on improving education within their communities so that the urban landscape is less attractive to baboons and to relay challenges caused by people and persistent raiding in their suburbs to the Baboon Technical Team (BTT) who will then inform the service provider for the City of Cape Town which will hopefully provide relief.

The service provider, Human Wildlife Solutions (HWS) follows the management guidelines which are drawn up together with civic reps, researchers, conservation authorities and other municipal bodies.

These guidelines are then approved by CapeNature and a permit is issued to the service provider for the City of Cape Town – currently HWS.

HWS then carries out its daily duties within the approved guidelines.

Euthanising a baboon is a last but nevertheless legal resort to protect ratepayers from damage and health risks associated with a raiding baboon and does not require approval by any civic organisation nor prior informing of civic reps.

Activists suggest that these killings are the mainstay of the current management when in fact they are the exceptions with most baboons being successfully managed by non-lethal means.

Only when these non-lethal means fail repeatedly and after having ensured that the causes of the raiding have been mitigated as far as is possible within the existing laws, in addition to educating the public in the affected area, is an animal considered for lethal management.

When the public was previously informed before a lethal management decision there were attempts to thwart the capture and transport of these baboons which had negative impacts on the welfare of the baboons, the service providers employees and other road users.

It further caused serious emotional damage to the service provider staff, most of which are biologists and chose a career to help wildlife not kill it.

So being harassed by the public, abused by them and having them interfere with what is already the worst part of their job is really unhelpful.

Civic reps and activists can be part of the solution by educating their ratepayers with the relevant facts that they will glean from biannual meetings with the BTT.

Should they seek to exceed their mandate (like demand information on daily management decisions that are approved and legal) and fail to realise their mandate (be educated and then educate the public) then one would hope they would be replaced.

You as a ratepayer have the right to engage with your rep on such matters and to raise any inconsistencies or inaccuracies that you feel are being presented in the media.

. University of Cape Town Professor Justin O’ Riain is also associated with the Institute of Communities and Wildlife Africa.

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