Cape Town reintroduces paintball guns to keep baboons out of residential areas

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Paintball guns can be used to deter baboons from residential areas in Cape Town.
Paintball guns can be used to deter baboons from residential areas in Cape Town.
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  • CapeNature and the Cape of Good Hope SPCA support the initiative.
  • The trial period is set to run for six months.
  • It includes a new set of operating procedures for rangers using the paintball guns.

CapeNature and the Cape of Good Hope Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) have given the green light for the City of Cape Town to use paintball guns to keep baboons out of residential areas in the city.

The City said the temporary reintroduction of paintball markers was informed by the alarming increase in baboon troops in urban areas since 14 May, and the impact this was having on the health and safety of baboons and residents.

The national SPCA withdrew its support for baboon monitors using paintball guns in May after a juvenile animal was found dead in a Simon's Town garden after being shot with a pellet gun.

READ | David Attenborough throws weight behind Betty's Bay baboons

The City said it adopted the decision to reintroduce the trial after it gained support from CapeNature and the Cape of Good Hope SPCA.

The City said:

The humane use of paintball markers will be in place while the guidelines for the management of a sustainable baboon population on the Cape Peninsula are being reviewed under the guidance of Cape Nature, as the leading authority on animal welfare, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, and other stakeholders.

The reintroduction of paintball markers in areas adjacent to baboon troops' natural habitat, was set to take place from Friday 25 June 2021, with ongoing oversight by CapeNature and the Cape of Good Hope SPCA.

"Cape Nature hereby confirms that the humane use of paintball markers as an aversion tool to keep baboons out of the urban areas and in their natural habitat, remains legal," CapeNature and Cape of Good Hope SPCA said in a joint statement.

They added that statutory authorities and the City of Cape Town met on 26 May and 17 June 2021 to discuss the impact of the recent withdrawal of the use of paintball markers and to understand under what conditions their use may be reintroduced by the City of Cape Town's Urban Baboon Programme.

READ | NSPCA withdraws support for paintball guns to shoot primates after baboon killed

Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Marian Nieuwoudt, reiterated that the use of paintball markers by baboon rangers was only allowed in accordance with the standard operating procedure (SOP) as revised by the Western Cape environmental affairs and development planning department, CapeNature, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, University of Cape Town researchers, field specialists, and the City of Cape Town on 17 June.

"Baboon rangers must comply with the SOP at all times," she added.

Conditions

Cape of Good Hope SPCA Chief Inspector, Jaco Pieterse, said the new operating procedure specified conditions for humane use of paintball guns and takes the welfare of the baboons into consideration.

"We have no legal power to prohibit the use of paintball markers to deter baboons, but the indiscriminate use of paintball markers, fired at point blank range at any animal, may cause unnecessary suffering and, therefore, may constitute a criminal and prosecutable offence in terms of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962."

NCC Environmental Services, contracted to manage the City's Urban Baboon Programme, was tasked with ensuring that all baboon rangers were trained and qualified to use paintball markers in accordance with the revised SOP. 

Nieuwoudt added that compliance would be monitored by CapeNature and the Cape of Good Hope SPCA during the trial period, and legitimate complaints would be investigated by the two parties.

"The continued use of paintball markers as an aversion tool will be reconsidered after the six-month trial period in consultation with the public and interested and affected parties," she added.

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