Cape Nature approves move to Limpopo for Cape Town baboon Kataza

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Kataza the baboon.
Kataza the baboon.
Charl Steenkamp (NCC Environmental Services)
  • Kataza is a chacma baboon who has cast into sharp focus the City of Cape Town's baboon management programme.
  • He was returned to his Slangkop troop in November, but has failed to integrate.
  • His new home will be a rehabilitation centre in Limpopo.

Cape Nature has approved permits to export Kataza - the "problem" chacma baboon - to the Riverside Rehabilitation Centre in Limpopo, where he will join eight other chacma baboons from the Cape Peninsula.

It's understood that Kataza will be captured on Sunday.

The Cape of Good Hope Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) – which launched the application - this week threatened legal action against the City of Cape Town if the Kataza "debacle" is repeated.

"We will not relocate a baboon like this again - we've made it clear to the City that this is the last time," said SPCA chief inspector Jaco Pieterse.

"The way the debacle was handled from the start was incorrect and there should have been more consultation. Had he not been relocated, the situation would not have been as severe as it is now. We said before he was taken back to Kommetjie that 'it is not going to work out and we're going to sit with the same problem, if not worse', and that is where we are today."

Pieterse said Kataza would be captured and undergo tests before being transported to Limpopo.

The initiative was the second attempt by the SPCA to relocate Kataza to the Limpopo rehabilitation centre of primatologist Bob Venter, following escalating fears for his safety and that of residents on the urban edges of Kommetjie, Ocean View, Capri, Da Gama Park and Sun Valley, where Kataza has been roaming for the last two months since his return to Slangkop in November last year.

READ | ANC Western Cape leader calls for public inquiry into baboon management programme

The City originally relocated Kataza from Slangkop to Tokai in October last year, after the City's service provider - Human and Wildlife Solutions (HWS) - failed to stop the baboon from "breaking the line" and raiding the Kommetjie village.

The relocation to Tokai prompted a petition by 30 000 signatories demanding that the metro return Kataza to Slangkop, as well as a High Court application brought by Ryno Engelbrecht, who accused the municipality of animal cruelty. The City eventually returned the baboon to his home range.

Pieterse confirmed numerous complaints about Kataza.

"We've had various complaints from various people where he's raiding homes, and we've received an affidavit where a resident apparently shot at him, although we don't have evidence directly linking the gunshot to an attempt on his life. People have threatened to harm him because he's damaging their property and there's the risk of him attacking or being attacked by dogs. A report from Venter insisted that proactive preventative intervention needs to be taken before a child or a member of the public gets seriously or fatally injured."

Venter visited Cape Town to assess Kataza and said the baboon displayed symptoms of chronic stress. He said that, after 80 days roaming the streets of Tokai, Kataza had been further "humanised" and showed no fear of people or vehicles.

After an urgent meeting with the SPCA last week, the City issued a press release claiming that Kataza had "on occasion, tried to cross Ou Kaapse Weg in the direction of Tokai. Should he reach Tokai on his own accord by Monday, 11 January 2021, SK11 will be afforded the opportunity to integrate and his raiding behaviour will be monitored. In the event that SK11 does not reach Tokai by 11 January 2021, further intervention will be required".

Kommetjie resident and "baboon angel" Susan Litten described the statement as "bizarre", adding that Kataza "has no inclination to go to Tokai - that is just some fantasy. After his relocation he would come to Kommetjie, he'd go to Capri, he'd go to Fishoek, he'd go to Da Gama... but never set foot on Silvermine or Ou Kaapse Weg".

The City declined to clarify the press release.

ALSO READ | CapeNature permits raise more questions about legality of City's baboon management programme

Venter also confirmed he already had four female chacma baboons of the Scarborough troop. He said he also had four other chacma baboons from the Cape, and that they had been transferred from the Pat O'Neill sanctuary in Somerset West.

A Facebook post by Engelbecht on Wednesday reflected the sentiment of many activists: "I have made peace with Kataza being moved away to Limpopo. He will be safer and although it’s not his fault, his life is more important. I will make sure that it won't happen to another Baboon. We will change these bad protocols."

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