Baboon whisperer walks Kataza up Silvermine, but locals report HWS push him back
(This article has been updated)
The issue that has been trending on Facebook in the South Peninsula among animal activists is that of Kataza the baboon from Slangkop.
South Peninsula baboon Katana was recently removed by the City of Cape Town's Human and Wildlife Solutions (HWS) team and relocated to Tokai, where one academic argues he is integrating with a new troop and has been approached by females there.
There appears to be no empirical evidence of this though many locals have posted photographs of Kataza alone and seemingly trying to find his way home to Slangkop in Kommetjie though this has been disputed by the City and HWS.
On Tuesday things came to a head when Kataza was seen breaking through into the Silvermine Reserve in an attempt to find his way home.
Animal activists lead by Babbon Matters NGO's Jenni Trethowan tracked him and accompanied him on his journey.
The situation became tense and locals posted photographs that there were traps on an HWS bakkie on SIlvermine and they were concerned that the trap may have been intended to capture Kataza. It has now been stated that this trap was not for Kataza but had been used to release another male nearby.
After Alderman Felicity Purchase intervened, the City of Cape Town allegedly promised not to kill Kataza and that he would be allowed to return to his home, but Trethowan understood that Purchase was not the decision-maker in this case.
However, on Wednesday locals reported that HWS was out early in the morning forcing Kataza back into Tokai. Professor Justin O' Raianhas subsequently responded that HWS is clear that BTT guidelines prevent them from interfering with a baboon.
Kataza was sighted near the Steenberg Golf Estate and Pollsmoor Prison, where residents in the area reported that he was being chased by HWS monitors, but subsequently, this has been denied by O' Raian who HWSsnever trap baboons and does not interfere with them.
In the video below Kataza can be seen walking with Trethowan over SIlvermine.
In the video below Trethowen addresses a crowd that had swelled to over 50 people who came out to help.
Baboon Matters Jenny Trethowan addresses community volunteers on Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/DSHl31Wmmj— Barbara Friedman (@Barbs1301) September 2, 2020
From being trapped in a suburban jail of electric fences and busy roads, Kataza made it back onto the mountain this afternoon #bringkatazaback @BaboonMatters #wildlife #conservation pic.twitter.com/ZJw7evnGt2— Sally Sivewright (@SallySivewright) September 1, 2020
For this trending story listen to Barbara Friedman on Barbs Wire below:
(Please note Professor Justin O' Raian from UCT says HWS follows BTT guidelines and never trap baboons and do not interfere with them and that was has been described in the audio clip below is factually incorrect. He states that the trap was on the bakkie on Silvermine because another baboon had been released nearby)
The City of Cape Town has since released a statement making it clear that it is of the view that Kataza formed a splinter troop and needs to stay in Tokai. Councillor Nieuwoudt has stated clearly that animal activists must stop trying to 'lure' him back to Slangkop.
CITY OF CAPE TOWN
2 SEPTEMBER 2020
City’s baboon programme achieves 80% increase in Peninsula’s baboon population
The City of Cape Town’s Baboon Programme has, since 2006 to date, recorded an increase of 80% in the Cape Peninsula’s baboon population, excluding the troops inside Cape Point National Park. This affirms the success of a programme that is being replicated by countries around the world. Read more below:
The number of baboons has increased from 248 in 2006 to 445 today. This is an increase of 197 baboons within 14 years and is equivalent to six new troops with an average of 30 baboons living alongside our suburbs.
The increase in the baboon population affirms the City’s approach in allocating resources to prevent baboons from entering urban areas as far as possible.
The City’s Baboon Programme is internationally recognised and countries such as Israel, the United Kingdom, Australia and Saudi Arabia are replicating the programme’s methodology.
Input regarding challenges are sought and received from conservation, animal welfare and wildlife professionals at CapeNature, SANParks, Cape of Good Hope SPCA and the University of Cape Town’s Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa. This collective is known as the Baboon Technical Team.
The Baboon Technical Team advises the City on decisions impacting the troops that live alongside the suburbs. The City also has regular operational meetings with the service provider, and follows the Guidelines for Baboon Management which have been developed over the past decade in accordance with international best practice.
Then, the City also meets twice a year with members of the public through the Council appointed representatives of baboon suburbs, known as CARBS, to inform stakeholders and to address any concerns.
‘The chacma baboon, or Papio ursinus, is integral to the Peninsula’s rich biodiversity and also plays a significant ecological role in the Cape Floristic Region. I want to assure every resident, animal activist, and visitor that the City is committed to maintaining a sustainable baboon population in the Cape Peninsula. To do so, we have to minimise conflict between people and baboons, and try to keep them out of the urban environment, which is dangerous to their general wellbeing,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt.
The City’s Baboon Technical Team strives to keep baboons out of urban areas to reduce conflict between humans and baboons; to stop all activities that previously brought people into close contact with baboons; to support the policing and law enforcement of all national, provincial and local laws relating to the protection of wild animals; and to consult regularly with independent local and international baboon experts who have conducted research to inform guidelines.
International and local researchers recommend: • that baboons be kept out of urban areas; • that baboon field rangers are trained in field techniques, public education and in law enforcement; • that field rangers be equipped with aversion tools to discourage baboons from foraging in suburbs and recreational areas; and • that electrified fence barriers be used where possible to allow baboons to live peacefully next to suburbs.
‘I am aware that some animal activists do not agree with the recent relocation of a male baboon from the Slangkop Troop to Tokai. This male was born in the Slangkop Troop and commenced to inbreed. He was also splintering the group and compromising the welfare of the whole troop. Being young and healthy, it was decided to relocate him to the northern sub-population where his chances of outbreeding are greatly improved, and with that, the genetic health of any offspring.
‘The male baboon was sighted by baboon rangers where he was interacting with several female baboons in the Tokai Troop on Sunday, 30 August 2020. Unfortunately, we have been informed that animal activists have since attempted to lure the male baboon back to Kommetjie during the course of yesterday, 1 September 2020.
‘Again, I want to urge animal activists to please work with the City, and not to undermine what we are trying to achieve. In the end, we all want to see that the baboon troops are safe and healthy in their natural habitat, as opposed to foraging in urban areas where they are exposed to many dangers,’ said Alderman Nieuwoudt.