Residents fume over baboon raids

NCC has applied for and received additional funding from the City to appoint extra rangers to assist in keeping the CT2 troop out of this urban area.

There is growing frustration among Constantia residents about baboon raids on their properties.

“Cull them or move them,” says Paul Baise, who lives above Rhodes Drive near Constantia Nek.

Mr Baise says his thatch roof has been trashed and part of the kitchen.

“If I see them again I will shoot them,” he said in a Skype meeting organised by councillor Liz Brunette on Thursday December 10.

Since August, a troop of about 25 baboons called CT2 has been more visible in the area.

Behavioural ecologist Professor Justin O’Riain said it had been predicted for decades that baboons would eventually move north, crossing Constantia Nek towards Table Mountain National Park.

“And it was going to end up with conflict because residents in this area are not familiar with baboons, and their properties would not be baboon-proofed,” he said.

Michael Smythe, who also lives on Rhodes Drive, said his roof had been damaged and he was spending his time getting quotes for fencing and baboon-proofing.

“Who will pay? And who’s responsible if a child is maimed or killed by a baboon in a home invasion?”

Gordon Chunnett, who lives near Cecilia Forest entrance, said he had had regular baboon visits for the past three weeks. He demands that the baboons be moved back south.

Ms Brunette supports him.

“Forcing them south is a problem,” said Professor O’Riain, “because the density of baboons above the vineyards and Tokai is exceptionally high.”

A 2012 study by Tali Hoffman showed baboons preferred to forage on lower slopes, and the amount of suitable land was limited to small patches in the northern section of Table Mountain National Park, he said.

“This forces baboons against the urban edge, with conflict with residents below Rhodes Drive and UCT, and this is why conservation authorities decided to noallow baboons north of the Nek,” said Professor O’Riain.

City of Cape Town biodiversity manager, Dalton Gibbs, said baboon movement north was due to less foraging in the Tokai plantation, the fire of 2015 and the increased baboon populations.

Joselyn Mormile, from NCC, the City’s baboon-management contractor, said there was also much fighting in the Constantia troops due to limited natural space.

NCC’s monthly report says the CT2 troop has been sleeping in Eagles’ Nest wine farm and moving towards areas such as De Hel Nature Reserve and Cecilia Forest.

The troop is frequently crossing Constantia Main Road, Rhodes Drive and Southern Cross Drive.

The SPCA’s Shane Everts said baboons were wild animals and it was illegal for the public to kill them.

Sheila Camerer, chairwoman of the Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, said extra funding was needed for the City baboon-management programme as NCC was not coping.

The City has given NCC extra funding to appoint more rangers to keep the CT2 troop out of the urban area, according to Ms Mormile.

Professor O’Riain raised the option of baboon contraception, but he said it was a long-term strategy that would not offer short-term relief to residents who had not anticipated living with baboons.

SANParks spokeswoman, Lauren Clayton, said Table Mountain National Park, the City of Cape Town and CapeNature were discussing ways to manage the CT2 troop and other baboons across the peninsula and she could only comment once they had reached consensus.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden manager, Elton le Roux, said they had seen a family group of about 25 baboons almost daily.

“There has been no reported damage in the garden as yet but on one occasion there was harassment of staff at our garden office. However, with a combination of having the baboon monitors around, leaving no food in outside bins and closing doors and windows, we have had no further harassment incidents.”

Call the Baboon Hotline at 071 588 6540 or email baboons@capetown.gov.za