CapeNature slammed for 'rubber-stamping' permits to kill Cape chacma baboons

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Activists protesting the killing of Julius, an alpha-male baboon of the Plateau Road troop, outside a farm at Cape Point.
Activists protesting the killing of Julius, an alpha-male baboon of the Plateau Road troop, outside a farm at Cape Point.
Tred Magill
  • A baboon that roamed around Cape Point was put down in July with the approval of CapeNature.
  • A member of conversation advocacy group Baboon Matters has since assessed the application to have the male baboon killed.
  • Questions have been raised about whether the application was rigorously assessed.

Conservation advocacy group Baboon Matters has slammed CapeNature, claiming the provincial conservation authority is merely "rubber-stamping" permit applications to kill chacma baboons in the Cape Peninsula.

Jenni Trethowan of Baboon Matters criticised CapeNature after independently assessing a Cape Point landowner's permit application to kill the alpha-male baboon Julius of the Plateau Road troop in July.

According to the permit application, Frances Minicki employed a professional hunter to kill Julius by a "prohibited hunting method" with a firearm.

The killing sparked outrage from baboon activists and a protest outside Minicki's 900-hectare property close to the Cape Point Nature Reserve in July.

Minicki cited 16 incidents of alleged raiding by the baboon dating back to January 2020. Julius was identified in nine cases. Three of those nine incidents involved the baboon being in the garden of one of Minicki's tenants. Of the remaining incidents, Julius was alleged to have broken into homes four times but was chased away on two of those occasions.

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Photographic evidence submitted showed damage to two windows. CapeNature could not explain why the baboon was considered a threat when contacted for comment.

On a different occasion in June, a tenant claimed the baboon "walked into the house past me. When I shouted at him, he turned and opened his mouth, baring his teeth at me".

"My husband then came through to the kitchen and also shouted at him. He walked up to the food cupboard and took a bag of tomatoes, and ran out of the house," the tenant added.

Trethowan explained the baring of teeth as a "fear grimace", which was not aggressive or threatening.

She said:

It is more likely the baboon's behaviour was misunderstood by the complainant... and also by Cape Nature, it seems. Considering that nobody was harmed and that the baboon was chased from the house, why was the baboon considered a threat to anybody?

The permit application was assessed and approved by CapeNature conservation manager Helene van der Westhuyzen. She justified the permit by recording that the baboon "raided" a home and broke into buildings on multiple occasions.

Trethowan also criticised the evidence of the "mitigations" employed by the landowner and tenants, questioning how the baboons were able to access the homes if "all precautions" were taken.

CapeNature was unable to confirm visiting the property or independently verifying the evidence submitted to motivate the application.

Trethowan added:

They're just rubber-stamping these permit applications without the due diligence they're obliged to exercise.

Pauline Suddards, who organised the July protest, said "the system is totally flawed".

"CapeNature should have obtained affidavits from every tenant stating why they motivated the application and should have visited the property, especially because it was not a troop managed by the City [of Cape Town] or NCC [Environmental Services] rangers."

Minicki did not respond to multiple attempts to get comment. Her comment will be added once received.



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