Various methods and tools are utilised for managing baboons on the Peninsula.

Tags

Tagging baboons is an important tool in baboon management. The coloured ear-tags are easy to spot and baboon rangers, field managers, veterinarians and members of public can accurately identify the baboon.

Female baboons are tagged so veterinarians screening the baboons for human diseases can identify which animals have already been sampled. Males who require more active management may also be tagged. Dispersing males who enter the urban area are tagged to monitor their movements and, where necessary, provide them with assistance in finding another troop. Habitual urban raiders will also be tagged.

While it is possible for researchers to learn to identify individual baboons based on their behaviour and appearance, a mistake can be made and a baboon can be incorrectly identified. Ear-tags help to prevent non-raiding male baboons from been incorrectly identified as raiders.

The perception that all tagged baboons are destined for euthanasia is inaccurate and misleading. It is highly likely that a ‘problem’ baboon will already be tagged, but not all tagged baboons are ‘problem’ baboons.

Collars

In the past, only certain baboons were collared, but this number will likely increase in the future. Very high frequency (VHF) radio tracking pulse collars emit a beep every second and using radio telemetry, rangers are able to determine exact location of the baboons at any time. GPS collars use the Global Positioning System (GPS) to determine the animal’s location. GPS collars can store data which can be remotely collected and used for research and management of the troops. Tracking data captured from collars is used across the world to improve wildlife management and conservation. Collars are worn by most alpha males so rangers can monitor the movement of the troops.

Tools

In July 2012, Cape Nature and the NSPCA supported an application by the City of Cape Town to use an aversion tool kit as part of their baboon management programme. Baboon rangers were granted permits to use paintball markers and bear bangers to dissuade baboons from entering urban areas. The tools are used with the utmost discretion and are not intended to hurt or harm baboons in any way. They have substantially reduced urban raiding by the baboons. CapeNature issued Human Wildlife Solutions (HWS) with a permit to use these tools. This includes permission for them to be used in residential areas. Supervisors and field managers carry permits.


Paintball markers

Paintball markers are used mainly for recreation and military simulation but have been used in

mark-recapture studies of free-ranging wildlife populations and in deterring problematic wild species from urban environments. Paintball markers are currently used to deter baboons from tourist and residential areas in KwaZulu-Natal, Sun City and in the Overberg Region (Hermanus).

The paintball marker operator will only target adult baboons who are a safe distance away from juvenile and infant baboons, but within 20m to ensure accuracy. No adult females carrying infants are targeted. Large juveniles may be targeted at the discretion of the field manager.

A Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) for using paintball markers to deter baboons was put in place. The paintball marker operator may not use a paintball marker on private property, unless given permission by the owner to do so. The projectiles used by HWS are gas-propelled, soft, spherical pellets that are filled with water-soluble, non-toxic paint. Paintball markers must be concealed when not in use. All operators must follow the code of conduct, procedures and protocols to the letter of the law.


Bear bangers

Bear bangers were originally developed to scare away bears in Canada and the United States. The cartridges are fired into the air and explode with a loud bang that scares the baboons. Bear bangers are only used on the urban edge and all attempts will be made to notify the community when the cartridges are discharged.


Pepper balls

These are shot from the paintball marker and are fragile balls which break open upon impact. They release a super-irritant powder called PAVA (capsaicin II) pepper. They are only used to chase baboons in extreme circumstances.

 

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Similar Issues: Bears And Baboons

Many of the same challenges faced with baboons on the Cape Peninsula are faced in other countries with bears. Keeping these animals out of human areas is key to prevent conflict. Residents in both bear and baboon areas need to practise good waste management and tourists must adhere to regulations against feeding these animals.

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