Ninety delegates from communities dealing with human-baboon conflict in South Africa convened in Knysna on 4th August, 2014 to discuss baboon management strategies.
Hosted by the Fynbos Forum, the Knysna Baboon Management Workshop included biodiversity managers from the City of Cape Town, Knysna & Overstrand Municipalities, CapeNature, SANParks, National SPCA Wildlife Unit, Knysna Baboon Action Group, Nature’s Valley Trust, Pezula Private Estate, Baboon Research Unit – University of Cape Town, University of Fort Hare, Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), Primate Ecology and Genetics Group (PEGG) and IUCN SSC Veterinary Specialist Group as well as a host of researchers, veterinarians and interested residents.
Baboons in South Africa
The Chacma baboon (Papio ursinus) is the largest of the baboon species and occurs throughout southern Africa. In South Africa, they are common in the Drakensberg, the Cape Fynbos region and the Succulent Karoo. The baboon IUCN Conservation status is listed as Least Concern. Although they are not listed as threatened or endangered, populations in the Cape Peninsula (only protected population in South Africa) are considered potentially threatened and should beconserved and monitored.
With expanding human population and the shrinking of baboon natural habitats as well as the loss in many areas of all their natural predators, conflict situations are becoming and will become much more numerous and severe, especially in the urban areas and small holdings. Baboons in conflict is an example how urban areas and humans impact on our biodiversity; many other species suffer as a result of close contact with urban and peri-urban development.
What did the workshop highlight for the various stakeholders?
- The situation is different in every community, however most people at workshop were on the same page and a large amount has been shared already.
- Baboon management in all the communities was based on good science;
- The importance of municipalities and monitoring programmes was showcased;
- Monitoring programmes were recognised as an important method (all using aversion tools)
- Game fencing – only seen as a solution in the Cape Peninsula and had limited applicability in other regions;
- Protocols for sick, injured, dispersing and raiding baboons were essential to the Cape Peninsula which was regarded as an population. SANParks have own protocols for ‘problem animals’.
- It is understood that baboons breed faster on human derived and/or invasive plants* It is understood that baboons breed faster on human derived and/or invasive plants
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
What was achieved at the workshop?
Information and methods were shared. There is a proactive spirit with many champions, willing to work cooperatively. There is municipal or conservation authority support in certain areas, everyone is responsible for baboons, some budget available, link between science and management (success in the conservation management world). It was reassuring to hear that most communities had similar problems.
There is a lack of budget in some areas as well as a lack of commitment. Baboons are ofter seen as no one person’s responsibility. Certain areas lack proactive communities and once baboons don’t raid people not interested in programme. More research is needed.
Issues of animal welfare and cruelty still crop up. Human disease is a major threat to baboons and we appear to be losing our truly wild baboon populations.
We need to link the hotspots of success and share available management plans and research. The National Baboon Forum is an initiative which intends to formalise this group in to a stakeholder community to share management techniques, research and information.