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Nosy Rosy intends paying a visit to the baboons who are under the care of Jenni Trethowan and 'walk with baboons.'  I heard from a very reliable source that it is an amazing experience at only R250 p/person.
Watch this space for a full article.


The Cape Peninsula Baboon Research Unit is a collection of scientists focusing their research on baboons of the Cape Peninsula and surrounding areas. This research encompasses various aspects of baboon biology, including ecology, behaviour, genetics and evolution. Much of this research focuses on comparing the Cape Peninsula population to other baboon populations and studying the relationship between the Peninsula baboons and their human neighbours. Current research topics include ranging patterns, habitat use, effect of human habitation on baboon behaviour and ecology, parasite transmission between baboons and humans, population genetics, and male and female reproductive strategies.
The Cape Peninsula baboon population consists of 11 troops, distributed from the Tokai Forest in the southern suburbs of Cape Town down to the Cape of Good Hope Section of the Table Mountain National Park. These troops vary in size from about 7 individuals to over 100. The baboon population is under increasing pressure from human habitation, which has decreased and fragmented the baboon habitat in the Peninsula, and conflict between humans and baboons is prevalent. Part of our goal as a research group is to contribute information on baboon biology that will aid in baboon conservation and management.
The research of the BRU encompasses the following general areas:
• Behavioural Ecology — Feeding ecology and activity patterns.
• Spatial Ecology — Habitat use and ranging patterns.
• Social Behaviour — Grooming patterns and social relationships.
• Genetics — Population genetics and kinship.
• Physiology — Hormonal correlates of behaviour.
Baboon Management
Research conducted by the BRU informs management of the Cape Peninsula baboon population. Significant interaction with humans characterizes most of the baboon troops of the Cape Peninsula. The problems associated with this interaction led to the creation of the Baboon Management Team (BMT) in 1998. The BMT includes representatives from South African National Parks; Cape Nature; the City of Cape Town; various residents' associations in the southern suburbs of Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula; and scientists from the Baboon Research Unit. Our role is to contribute information to the BMT that can aid in management decisions. The official liaison between the Baboon Management Team and the Baboon Research Unit is Esmé Beamish.
Through collaborative research, we aim to gain insight into baboon biology and behaviour while contributing positively to baboon management in the South African Cape Peninsula.
Baboons and Humans
Baboons are among the most behaviourally flexible, adaptable, and intelligent mammals and thus become very easily commensal with humans. If they are fed by humans or otherwise learn that they can obtain food from them, baboons will decrease their efforts to find natural foods and will become increasingly daring in their attempts to get an "easy meal." The end result is that baboons will turn aggressive, will be identified as "problem animals," and will be killed.

As of 1999, the Baboon Management Team (BMT) and SANParks have employed "baboon monitors" to prevent baboons from entering residential areas as well as to move baboons out of human-frequented areas before conflict occurs.

If you are a Cape Peninsula resident and would like to report a baboon-related problem outside of Table Mountain National Park (Tokai, Kommetjie, Fish Hoek, Scarborough, and Simon’s Town areas), please contact Jenni Trethowan, who manages the baboon monitors, at 021-782-2015. If you would like to report illegal activity involving baboons (e.g., feeding or injuring baboons), please contact Cape Nature at 021-957-5900 (or visit their website: www.capenature.org.za).

Related links
• BaboonsOnline.com
• SANParks
• Cape Nature
• UCT Department of Zoology
• UCT Department of Archaeology
• NYCEP Graduate Program in Evolutionary Primatology
Copyright © 2007 Baboon Research Unit
Site designed and maintained by Julian Saunders
Updated: 15 September 2007


In terms of the Constitution of South Africa, citizens of the Republic have basic human rights to a healthy and safe environment within which to live in. The different spheres of government have certain obligations to ensure that these basic rights are provided and maintained at all times. In general, the common law’s position on all wild animals is that of res nullius. This means that no wild animal in a free-roaming state has a legal owner. They belong to no one in particular but to everyone in general. The only means by which any person can obtain ownership of any wild animal is either by means of live capture and thereafter exercising control thereof or by keeping it in captivity within a secure enclosure or legalized by killing (hunting). If ownership within the legal fragments exists, then such owners can be held liable in cases where these animals escape from that property and cause damage to any other property. Nature Conservation organs of state or other environmental statutes regulate such ownership and the utilisation, including the control and management actions, with regard to wild animals in South Africa. In the Cape Peninsula and Overstrand Local Authority area, conflict between humans and the baboon troops, which are free-ranging in suitable habitats on the edges of urban developments, occasionally does arise.

The underlying conservation principle which addresses these problems that wildlife resources effectively have prior rights in that they evolved in these areas and existed there prior to conversion of the land for urban development. A holistic approach to address these “problems” is being advocated by CapeNature and preventative measures must be put into place to address the wildlife – human conflict efficiently. This approach, which addresses the problem rather than the “problem animal”, is now the standard way in which such conflict between humans and wildlife in urban areas and rural areas should be addressed. Therefore landowners and other property owners need to take reasonable steps to protect their property and other interests from being damaged or utilized by naturally- occurring baboon troops. In urban areas, pro-active measures to manage baboon problems are very important, and could include, for example, the identification of baboon hotspots; the establishment of proper signage and educational measures (the purpose being to change the attitude of humans in addressing the problem). The use of baboon monitors; electric fencing; burglar bars in front of windows and safety doors to prevent primates from entering human dwellings;
baboon-proof dustbins and proper waste management strategies by local authorities; and, where feasible conditioned taste and/or sound aversion; etc.

However, CapeNature Conservation recognizes that occasionally, despite taking such preventative measures, certain individual animals are repeat offenders which manage to circumvent the protective measures taken. Animals which learn to overcome these measures, are usually those generally considered to have relatively high levels of intelligence such as primates. When satisfactory evidence has been provided that despite taking the correct appropriate precautionary measures, in an appropriate or prescribed manner to prevent or minimize such damage/loss, only then is it reasonable to take further measures to attempt to solve the problem, such as cage-trapping or other appropriate management actions.

The onus, however, remains on the landowner/property owner to demonstrate that he/she applied the preventative measures in a reasonable and responsible manner. Under such circumstances the animals which are caught can potentially be considered for further management intervention, including translocation, euthanasia, or utilization for other purposes. The hunting of wild animals is regulated in terms of the Nature Conservation Ordinance 19 of 1974 as amended and the hunting proclamation that is promulgated annually. Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) are the most abundant wild primates within the south western Cape and cause merely specific problems on the edges of human settlements and the hunting proclamation makes provision for certain circumstances.

The hunting season for this species is open for the whole year, and an unlimited number of animals may be hunted daily, while prohibited hunting methods such as (1) hunting with the aid of artificial light; (2) hunting only by means of a cage trap; (3) hunting during the period one hour after sunset on any day and one hour before sunrise on the following day; and (4) hunting by the use of a dog, are suspended in terms of the hunting proclamation. It is important to take cognisance of the fact that in terms of Section 29 (f) of Ordinance 19 of 1974, the hunting of any wild animal “by means of any weapon in a public place within the area of jurisdiction of a local authority”, is prohibited. Furthermore, the hunting season can be regionally applicable, such that certain areas are excluded and where the relevant species may not be hunted. The Cape Peninsula has consequently been demarcated as such an area where baboons may not be hunted without a permit. However, when acting in self-defence, to protect property as human life from a potentially dangerous wild animal, such as an adult baboon, the use of a fire-arm might well be could be considered as the only viable solution under certain circumstances.

The responsibility of local authorities to ensure safety and to provide security to communities and constitutionally it is the provision of both health and safety measures to such communities. When wildlife threatens the health of humans by spreading diseases such as rabies or physically threatens the safety of humans by intruding into homes or represents a security risk in public places, the responsible local management authority must take the necessary steps to address such risks or threats, including, amongst others, the implementation of appropriate waste removal management measures. The local authority can be assisted in terms of advice, equipment and the disposal of certain captured animals. The appropriate conservation frequency of occurrence of problems with wild animals will determine the level of assistance and input by conservation staff. The more frequent and involved the problem is, the more independent and proficient the local authority will have to become to deal with it.

The primary responsibility of CapeNature should thus be seen as advisory. For this reason CapeNature has established an internal help desk to provide the necessary information when requested. It is therefore important to differentiate between physical control wild animals causing damage in local authority areas and the legislative responsibilities of CapeNature. In this regard, CapeNature is fully responsible for dealing with any transgression of the ordinance or provincial regulations regarding the hunting, captivity, sale, breeding, theft and transport of wild animals within a municipal area. Similarly CapeNature is responsible for inspections and the necessary permit administration within the Local Authority area as well.
Although the operational management of human-animal conflict falls outside the mandate of CapeNature (this is the responsibility of the land-owner), it has been decided, as an interim arrangement, to establish a baboon monitoring project in the highly problematic areas of Hermanus and the Cape Peninsula as part of a poverty relief programme (R3,5 million has been made available for this purpose.) The main objective with this interim and urgent intervention is to ensure that a problematic and successful baboon management model is developed in areas where high levels of conflict are experienced. The relevant local authorities will have to ensure that this model becomes sustainable and that they take the necessary responsibility of the management of the baboon-human conflict in their areas of jurisdiction.


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