- Jeffrey, the baboon, was released in the mountains of Polokwane on Tuesday.
- And he's found a new family after joining a wild baboon troop in the area.
- The baboon was captured in the Helderkruin area after roaming around Johannesburg for weeks.
After weeks of roaming in suburban Johannesburg, Jeffrey the baboon has found a new home and a family in Limpopo. He was safely relocated in the mountains of Polokwane on Tuesday, and has subsequently found a troop of baboons to call his own.
The male baboon was spotted wandering on the West Rand before it was caught on Good Friday in the Helderkruin area.
More than 800 people reportedly sent WhatsApp location pins or called in sightings – while others sent in messages to wish him well.
Cora Bailey, the founder of Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW), told News24 that the baboon managed to evade two traps during his capture.
The traps are stocked with food to lure the baboon inside. The food sits on a trap plate, which triggers the door shut when pressure is applied.
Jeffrey knocked over the first trap in Little Falls.
"Those traps are extremely heavy, it takes about four people to carry them, and he knocked it over," Bailey said, praising his strength.
As to why he was roaming the suburbs of Johannesburg?
Bailey suspects Jeffrey was going through his first dispersal, leaving one troop to find another. She attributed the baboon's long roaming journey in the city to this.
A new home
After his capture, Jeffrey was relocated to the Prime Crew primate facility in Limpopo, where he was kept in quarantine for a short period to interact with other animals before his release.
Bailey called the wild baboon a "charmer" as he quickly "chatted up" the facility's female baboons.
He was released in the mountains of Polokwane, home to many other wild baboons.
The once lone baboon has now found his own troop of baboons.
"What is interesting is that he managed to find a troop quickly after his release. He is also a big boy, so I don't think the other male baboons will bother him too much," Bailey said.
Awareness for indigenous animals
"We've given him the best possible chance at life. If he stayed around the suburbs he would've been dead by now," she told News24.
And while Jeffrey's story has a happy ending, Bailey said it's essential to protect South Africa's indigenous animals and learn to co-exist with them.
"Baboons are our indigenous animals. All animals are precious, but our indigenous animals deserve their place in the sun and should be protected."
Bailey expressed her concern for the dwindling numbers of indigenous animals due to urbanisation.
"We cannot just cage animals when we see them. We simply cannot shoot and kill them when spotted in the suburbs."