Cape baboons stay out of city

Cape baboons (Picture: AFP)
Cape baboons (Picture: AFP)

Johannesburg - Ninety-five percent of baboons have been kept out Cape Town since August, a city councillor said on Wednesday.

"The city is... pleased to report that its baboon management programme has seen great success over the past six months, with statistics showing that the strategies in place are working very well," Mayoral Committee Member Councillor Garreth Bloor said in a statement.

Last year, troops of baboons were paintballed to drive them out of residential suburbs and stop them from pillaging homes and cars in brazen food raids.

The primates are notorious for causing havoc in the city.

On 1 August, the municipality appointed Human Wildlife Solutions (HWS) on a two-year contract to manage baboons in the Cape Peninsula.

Sixty rangers were employed in the northern, south-eastern and south-western regions.

Bloor said that as part of the contract, the city required that baboons be kept out of town for a minimum of 80% of the time.

"Since August 2012, the baboons have been kept out of town for an average of over 95% of the time," he said.

In December, about 11 baboon troops spent an average of over 98% of their time out of town, and another five troops spent 100% of their time out of the city.

Each troop varies from between eight to 40 baboons.

Bloor said similar successes had been achieved with raiding adult males, with no reported raids in the Zwaanswyk and Tokai residential areas.

"The only suburb that experienced frequent raids over the summer is Kommetjie, where a new splinter [baboon] troop is forming and there are therefore too few field rangers," he said.

"Two male [baboons] successfully raided at least five houses with people present, and numerous bin raids were reported."

A special meeting would be held with Kommetjie residents to discuss problems in the area.

Bloor said calls to the baboon hotline reporting their presence in urban areas were substantially lower in December, with 63 calls, as compared to the same month the previous year, when there were 154 calls.

"There is always room for improvement, but testament to the success of these actions is the decline in the human-induced baboon mortality rate, which has been halved from over 10% in 2006 to 5% in 2011," he said.

"The city of Cape Town has... achieved its primary goal of a sustainable baboon population as part of the peninsula's rich natural heritage."

Drunk baboons

In 2010, the Telegraph reported that Cape Town was having a problem with dozens of "drunk baboons".

The baboons had developed a taste for grapes and each day they would strip vines in Groot Constantia before heading into the mountains to sleep.

Some baboons sampled fallen fruit, which had fermented in the sun, and generally passed out and did not make it home.

In 2009, National Geographic reported that "cheeky monkeys" raided homes and bins for food, and that primates had learnt how to open windows, refrigerators and bins.

One baboon, named Fred, gained infamy in the city for opening closed car doors and robbing tourists of their bags and food.

In 2010, he attacked and injured three people, two of whom required medical attention.

Cape Town eventually decided to euthanise the animal.

At the time, the city blamed its "demise" mainly on the continuous "misguided efforts" by humans to befriend and feed baboons.

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