NCC Environmental Services (Pty) Ltd

Managing baboon-human conflict: City of Cape Town - case study

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Courtesy of NCC Environmental Services (Pty) Ltd

NCC managed the City of Cape Town’s Baboon Monitoring Programme, aimed at reducing conflict between humans and baboons on the Cape Peninsula, from 1 August 2009- 30 June 2012.

The Cape Peninsula is home to 16 baboon troops, which have come into inevitable and frequent conflict with humans as residential areas expand around the City of Cape Town and encroach on their habitat. Baboons raid garbage bins, gardens and homes in search of food, and show aggressive behaviour towards people and pets. Some residents have retaliated by setting traps or shooting the baboons.

A Baboon Management Team was established in 1998, including stakeholders such as SANParks, CapeNature, the SPCA, UCT’s Baboon Research unit, the City of Cape Town and residents’ associations. The team’s aim is to maintain a sustainable baboon population on the Peninsula – there is broad consensus that the total extinction of the population would be a bad thing – while minimising the impact on residents.

NCC was appointed in June 2009 to take over the implemention of the Baboon Monitoring Project. NCC's first official day in the field was 1 August 2009 and the contract ended on 30 June 2012.

There were seven focus areas:

  • Tokai, with around 170 baboons in four troops.
  • Constantia, with one large troop of 40 baboons.
  • Scarborough and Misty Cliffs, with two troops that frequently attempt to enter both villages.
  • Welcome Glen/Da Gama Park, with two troops.
  • Kommetjie/Capri, with one troop.
  • Simons Town, with one troop that has been involved in car as well as home raids.
  • Waterfall/Red Hill, with one troop.

NCC employed a total of 80 people on this project, of whom 36 were active in the field on any particular day.  They used a variety of methods to keep the baboons out of residential areas, and also to reduce harm to the baboons themselves:

  1. Troop sleeping sites were mapped so movements can be monitored from early in the morning.
  2. Teams of monitors tracked the movement of every troop through the day, maintaining constant radio contact and herding them away from residential areas if necessary.
  3. Some lone males, who are the greatest cause of conflict, were tagged so they can be tracked more easily.
  4. Monitors helped to educate members of the public not to feed baboons.
  5. Monitors recorded and reported incidents in which humans shot, threw stones at or otherwise attempted to harm the baboons.
  6. Monitors collected and reported data for the Baboon Research Unit at UCT.
  7. Excess males were captured and relocated to new troops where necessary.

NCC also partnered with the Baboon Conservation Authorities to do property audits and educate residents on how to baboon-proof their homes.

From when NCC’s involvement began the number of baboons on the Peninsula increased from 350 to 450, and the number of baboons killed or injured by residents has decreased.

NCC’s operational and management experience was a significant contributor to the success of this project. Monitors were formally employed on one-year contracts, received overtime pay and paid leave, as well as cover for emergency medical response in the field.  We also maintained a Baboon Hotline which had resulted in more residents calling in to report sightings as well as raids.

NCC would like to thank the residents (and baboons) of the Cape Peninsula for their co-operation and support over the last 3 years.

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