Baboon Matters picks up the slack

Baboon Matters is asking residents to help fund a team of rangers to monitor the CT2 troop that lives on Constantia north of Constantia Nek.

A non-profit organisation has made a public appeal for funding to support a team of rangers that is trying to keep a splinter baboon troop roaming Constantia in check.

The team started monitoring the CT2 baboon troop after the City removed its rangers, who had been monitoring this group, in April.

Earlier this year, the City decided to abandon its controversial urban baboon management programme when its contract with NCC Environmental Services comes to an end in June next year (“Talks to explore future of baboon management,” Bulletin, June 9).

In a video posted on Facebook, Baboon Matters called for donations to fund the rangers, saying they had so far been very successful in keeping baboons off busy roads and out of houses.

“They do not use paintball guns or aversion tools, only their own energy and knowledge of baboons,” the narrator says in the video, adding that the initiative is an interim solution while “authorities resolve their differences of opinion”.

The CT2 troop, which resides in Constantia, north of Constantia Nek, has long been a source of frustration for residents and it was discussed in an online public meeting on Thursday September 22, one of a series of meetings the City held with residents of baboon-affected areas to get input on a sustainable approach to baboon management.

The outcome of the meetings will be included in a draft baboon-management plan.

A Cape Peninsula baboon management task team, made up of SANParks, CapeNature, and the City, is aiming to have a new management plan in place by the end of June next year.

However, Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association’s Gordon Chunnet says the City appears to have done nothing to tackle the baboon issue in the weeks since the public meetings took place.

Speaking at a meeting with the mayor, held in Claremont last week, he said Constantia residents were living under the tyranny of a marauding troop of baboons that should not be there.

Mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Eddie Andrews had chaired the meeting about the CT2 troop at which it had been agreed that the troop needed to be removed, he said.

“Precisely zero has happened about that and I would like to address that issue with a sense of urgency,” said Mr Chunnet

He took issue with the City’s removal of its NCC baboon rangers monitoring the CT2 troop as well.

“A contract was issued for the management of baboons in the City of Cape Town.The contract stipulated not only, amongst others, the suburb of Constantia but also separately the troops CT1 and CT2 for funding of the full duration of that contract period under the main contract. As an aside, legal opinion has it that if that troop, CT 2, were to be wandering down Adderley Street on its way to come to your offices, the fact that it is CT2 would still require it to be monitored. We have requested that the monitoring be returned for the full contract period.”

Clarifying the City’s decision to remove the rangers, Mr Andrews said that when the contract with NCC had been approved, the CT2 troop had been located elsewhere and it had then moved north on to Celicia Forest, and further down into the urban area.

“We can’t help remove baboons on residential and private property. I think that point has been made in all of the eight meetings that I chaired. The complexities of CT2 currently would be that the troop is about between 18-19 baboons big. They are fully habituated and we need to relocate them, but where to?”

He said the joint task team was working on finding a solution. “November 11 is hopefully the final task team meeting where we will understand what sanctuaries will be available and what relocating them looks like as well,” he said.

“Whatever decision we make, we have to do it in a sustainable manner. Secondly, we are also keen to further engage with the Constantia Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association themselves to capacitate and understand how we can assist your domestic, your caretaker or any contact worker, on how they need to interact when a baboon is in the area.”

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said he was confident that when the City’s current baboon management contract with NCC ended next year the Western Cape government, CapeNature, SANParks, the City of Cape Town and the SPCA would all be united in their approach.

“There has to be a common understanding between the four agencies that the population is simply too high and there has to be a translocation,” he said.