Silent protests will take place against the euthanasia of Scarface the baboon

  • Protests are taking place in Pringle Bay after the euthanasia of a baboon called Scarface.
  • Supporters believe he was killed without a proper baboon management system in place.
  • One of the baboon supporters said the seaside town was in a state of mourning.

Protesters are expected to rally in Pringle Bay on Saturday morning after the euthanasia of a baboon named Scarface.

Supporters believe the baboon was killed in the absence of a proper baboon management program.

Scarface was euthanized on September 18, and residents of towns in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve mobilized.

They believe the current baboon management program is flawed and made worse by poor waste management protocols in cities.

“There was real grief from people who barely knew Scarface. They were crying,” said Pete Oxford.

Oxford added that Scarface was targeted for euthanasia because he was suspected of leading “splinter groups” in raids on towns in the region.

He said stalking baboons by the baboon control company Human Wildlife Solutions (HWS) made matters worse because the baboons were hungry and raiding to make up for the lost calories.

He accused the municipality of Overstrand of being “complicit” in the baboon raids by failing to provide baboon-proof bins.

He said Scarface had a “rap sheet” when it came to entering homes, but added that there had been no mitigation measures to prevent the raids in the first place.

But the municipality of Overstrand replied that the baboon problem was complex.

The municipality told News24 that in the municipal area there are around 14 herds of baboons of different sizes, comprising around 450 animals in total.

There are hot spots where there are more baboons – currently Rooiels, Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay, Kleinmond, Onrus, Hermanus Heights, Fernkloof, and Voelklip – but not all are at high risk for baboon-human conflict.

READ | David Attenborough lends his support to Betty’s Bay baboons as activists go to court

Rooiels has baboons but doesn’t think a specific intervention is needed outside of what the community itself provides.

“People’s actions and lifestyle and environmental factors such as fire or drought can alter the behavior of baboon troops and therefore the potential risk of human-baboon conflict in specific areas changes over time. increase in some areas and decrease in others, ”said spokesperson Riana Steenkamp.

She said there had been an increase in residential property development in Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond over the past three years as people moved out of town to live in the Overstrand, leaving less open space. for wildlife.

A fire in 2019 left large areas of the Kogelberg Biosphere barren during an extended period of drought and as the community began to rebuild homes after the blaze, bags of food at construction sites became easy choices for hungry baboons, which quickly increased their forays into urban areas. .

“Calls from concerned community members poured in and the municipality realized that the once-low risk had been compounded by a change that would not soon be overcome. “

In 2019, the provincial government handed over the baboon management function to the municipality. It is to implement the Baboon Strategic Management Plan (SBMP), jointly developed by the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, CapeNature and the municipality.

The Overstrand Baboon Joint Management Task Force was established as a joint decision-making structure to maintain oversight of people implementing SBMP and to deal with other issues that arise.

The municipality was given the function, by the province, to act as the managing authority and to implement the baboon management service in the Overstrand, and therefore it was not necessary to follow a participatory process to implement its mandated service.

HWS was appointed in October 2019 to manage the Overstrand baboon management program for the municipality through a supply chain policy waiver for a ‘virtual fence’ program.

A Baboon Liaison Group (BLG) has also been established and its next meeting will be on October 14th. It includes at least nine action groups, taxpayer associations and a rewilding group, as well as an independent researcher. One of the ongoing problems is the HWS. Members can debate and discuss baboon management issues at these meetings.

Steenkamp acknowledged that trash cans in open public spaces were not baboon proof, so the Hangklip-Kleinmond administration ordered eight public trash cans to be delivered and placed in Betty’s Bay.

“It is not enough, but more bins will be purchased as we go,” she added.

She said that although there has been some disruption and interference from community members to try to prevent HWS from removing baboons from areas, there has been an improvement in keeping the troop out of the area. the city in parts of Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond.

The Department of Environmental Management has employed a project manager for the program from September 2021 who will spend more time in the field addressing key topics, such as improving waste management, development educational and information material, baboon proofing of municipal infrastructure, document control, contract management. service provider and quality control of service delivery.

A new regulation on waste management is also in the process of being published. The new bylaw states that every owner, tenant or occupant must use animal proof containers in areas declared to be animal problem.

Meanwhile, Steenkamp said some residents had contacted the municipality to say they were okay with scarface’s euthanasia, but were too afraid to say so in public for fear of reprisal.

“[The] The Municipality of Overstrand has also received a number of letters of gratitude supporting the decision to euthanize BBM1 (official name of Scarface.

“The reasons given (given in the emails) were that he had caused hundreds of thousands of rand damage, kept people hostage in their own homes and was a great danger to young children, women and children. pets, leaving them frightened and traumatized after searching a home. “

She said that while not everyone agreed with the implementation of the baboon management guidelines, it was the only tool available to guide baboon management in the Western Cape.

“Until alternative guidelines have been approved, the current guidelines are applicable and will be implemented by the Municipality of Overstrand,” she said.

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