This is a final report on the tragedy of the Cape Fires.
Over 60 baboon rangers from City of Cape Town’s service provider, Human Wildlife Solutions, manage 385 baboons in ten managed troops, divided into three management regions.
South-Eastern Region: Smitswinkel Troop, Waterfall Troop & Da Gama Troops.
South-Western Region: Groot Olifantsbos Troop, Misty Cliffs Troop & Slangkop Troop.
Northern Region: Tokai Troop, Zwaanswyk Troop, Mountain Troop and Constantia Troop
Tokai Troop & Zwaanswyk Troop
The Baboon Technical Team (BTT) regrets to confirm, that a total of twelve baboons in the Tokai Troop are confirmed dead, on account of injuries sustained in the Cape Fires.
The final tally of dead and recovering fire-injured baboons in the Tokai Troop is as follows:
- Four critically injured baboons have been euthanased.
- Eight dead baboons found deceased as a result of the fire (either charred or died of their injuries shortly after the fire);
- Eight adult male baboons continue to be monitored for distinctive round red patches on their rumps. The result of fire burn, these red patches are now scabbing and veterinarians confirm that they will heal.
The Tokai troop is now confirmed to have 61 baboons in the troop – down from 73.
The Zwaanswyk Troop has lost a juvenile and this is suspected to be from smoke inhalation. The troop now has 26 members.
Foraging For The Northern Border Baboon Troops
Baboon rangers, BTT members, veterinarians and animal welfare experts are all evaluating the situation, on a daily basis. The assessment is that there is adequate food and plenty of water in running streams, for all four Northern Troops.
Plea To Residents NOT To Feed The Baboons
It is absolutely critical that residents do NOT start to randomly feed baboons in their gardens, natural areas or along the road with vegetables, fruits or ANY food. This will just encourage baboons to start raiding homes again.
It is vitally important to encourage the baboons to continue foraging out of town. Research has shown that the fires stimulate plant growth and new growth. With the arrival of the first rains, bulbs will be easier to find and the foraging may be better than it was before the fires. Baboons are already benefiting from the first flush of green growth that has already occurred after the fire.
Tokai Forest Closed To The Public
Due to the fire, the Upper Tokai Road and Plantation, Tokai Picnic site Arboretum and Lister’s Tea Room remain closed indefinitely to the public. This closure includes access to all the tracks and paths – and affects all user groups such as hikers, cyclists and horse riders. Silvermine East and West are also closed due to the fire, until further notice.
The closures are in the interest of the environment, the safety of the public and user groups on account of hazards that include:
- Standing trees that have been burnt or damaged by the fire are extremely dangerous as they continue to come down in the area.
- Recently burnt veld (as well as adjacent areas) is hazardous as the fire will have burnt roots underground and foot falls may cause serious injuries.
- Unstable slopes may result in rock falls.
- Winds and rain may exacerbate the danger with respect to falling trees, branches, rock falls and mudslides.
- Hazardous clear-felling operations of the burnt plantation trees are underway by Cape Pine.
- Disturbance to surviving animals.
- Burnt areas are sensitive as windblown seeds can be damaged and the first shooting plants can be killed by accidental trampling.
- Disturbance to sensitive erodible soils.
Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) needs to assess the damage and ensure the areas are safe for all users before the gates can be reopened.
Any unauthorised entry to closed sections of TMNP will result in a R2 500 spot fine by SANParks law enforcement officials.
Addendum: Background Information
The management of baboon troops on the Cape Peninsula is undertaken jointly by the City of Cape Town, Table Mountain National Park (SANParks) and CapeNature, who are known collectively as the Baboon Technical Team (BTT).
Valuable input is gratefully received on various issues from the baboon rangers, wildlife veterinarians, Baboon Research Unit (University of Cape Town) and animal welfare organisations (such as Cape of Good Hope SPCA).
Management decisions regarding raiding baboons are subject to assessment by recognised wildlife management experts and permits are issued by the Wildlife Advisory Committee of CapeNature.
A wide range of City of Cape Town residents are elected to the Baboon Liaison Group which is made up of representatives from the Constantia Property Owners Association, Constantia Hills Residents Association, Scarborough Residents & Ratepayers Association, Kommetjie Residents & Ratepayers Association, Misty Cliffs Village Association, Ocean View Civic Association, Tokai Residents Association, Zwaanswyk Residents Association and the Simon’s Town Civic Association.
The BLG meets regularly with the BTT to discuss a range of issues such as protecting baboons from retribution by residents which includes injuries from pellet guns, poisons, dogs and car injuries. The aim of both organizations is to maintain a sustainable baboon population that lives in the natural areas. The City of Cape Town’s is also mandated to protect residents and visitors from raiding baboons.
Chacma baboons form part of the Peninsula’s rich biodiversity and they play a potentially significant ecological role in the Cape Floristic Region. Under current management programmes, the Peninsula baboon population is growing steadily and is not endangered, nor is it under threat.