Task team grilled on baboon plan

The Cape Peninsula Baboon Management Joint Task Team faced a barrage of criticism at a public meeting last week over a draft baboon management plan. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

The Cape Peninsula Baboon Management Joint Task Team (JTT) got a grilling last week at a public meeting to discuss a draft baboon management plan.

Once finalised, the plan is expected to guide future management of the Cape Peninsula’s baboon population until at least 2033..

During the meeting, at the Range Function and Conference Centre in Tokai, last Friday, the City, SANParks and CapeNature, the three government authorities that make up the JTT, were asked to explain how the transition would work once the City’s contract with baboon-management contractor NCC ended at the end of June, the absence of the SPCA on the task team, and the draft plan’s definition of “sustainable”, among other things.

The public has until Friday March 31 to comment on the 22-paged draft plan, which, according to Keith Wiseman, the City’s head of the environmental management systems, was informed by the JTT’s collective knowledge and considered input from online public workshops held in August and September last year.

The JTT had committed to forming a baboon advisory group that would be open for representation of interest groups, Mr Wiseman said.

The purpose of the plan was the sustainable management of the baboon population at Cape Peninsula.

“Now my understanding of sustainable management means that the population is sustainable as well as the management,” he said.

Those who objected to the plan’s wording should offer alternative wording in their written comments, he said.

After the deadline for comment, the JTT would collate and consider comments by the end of April and hopefully have a finalised plan by the end of May, he said.

“There will be additional engagements with communities and stakeholders before the end of June,” he said, adding that a call for nomination for the baboon advisory group would be made before the end of the year.

Lorraine Halloway, from Baboons of the South lobby group, called for the SPCA to be included on the task team as many aspects of the plan affected baboon welfare.

Dr Luthando Dziba, SANParks managing executive for conservation services, said the task team brought together government institutions that had a direct responsibility by law over management of baboons.

“So the fact that the SPCA is not part of the JTT does not mean that their contribution or the work that they do is less important. We will have a direct bilateral engagement between the JTT and the SPCA.”

Peter Willis, from Simon’s Town Civic Association, was concerned about the looming end of the NCC contract.

“The fact that we are staring at a transition period that gets no mention in the draft hasn’t been mentioned this morning, and, to our knowledge, NCC still don’t know whether they have a contract after the 30th of June. And if they don’t have a contract and a meaningful contract, one that will actually do the job from the first of July, all of this will be absolutely wasted.”

City official Lizel Steenkamp said the City was working hard to ensure there was no gap between the end of the NCC contract and the new plan taking effect.

“We are busy with a legal process, we are also busy with supply chain management processes. We have to follow due process. If we want to extend the three-year contract, we may have to ask for public comment, to ask the public what they think about the proposal. But before we can get there we have to get legal approval from the City, that we can do that… We are very much aware that we cannot afford a lacuna because otherwise this plan cannot be implemented.”

Jenni Trethowan, founder of Baboon Matters, said residents needed baboon-proof bins before the end of June.

“The double-lock bins are perfectly adequate and we don’t want the promotion of compliance, we want people to be fined and actively prosecuted for shooting baboons and not managing their waste.”

Mr Dziba said a contract to supply lockable bins was being finalised and they should be rolled out from May.

Gordon Chunnet, a Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association member, said the JTT need to start showing results and assure the public that their properties, families and pets would be safe.

“That is the problem: we are under threat continuously by unmanaged troops. The CT2 troops did have monitors; monitors were removed in April 2022 without public participation. There is still monitoring of other troops at a diminished scale that speaks to the management of the funding that was allocated in the contracts that NCC won three years ago.”