Over 60 baboon rangers from City of Cape Town’s service provider, Human Wildlife Solutions, manage 405 baboons in ten managed ten troops, divided into three management regions.
South-Eastern Region: Smitswinkel Troop, Waterfall Troop & two 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.
The baboons in the South East Region and South West Region are unaffected by the fires at this stage.
Northern Region Troops
The first assessments of the four troops in the Northern Region (222 baboons) took place this morning, Thursday 5 March.
All baboons in the Zwaanswyk Troop (30), Mountain Troop (47) and Constantia Troop (76) appear to be safe.
Initial Assessment Of Injuries
Members of the Baboon Technical Team (BTT), two veterinarians and animal welfare groups (Cape of Good Hope SPCA and Four Paws International) joined baboon rangers in the Tokai Forests early this morning.
The latest animal count in the Tokai Troop, as conducted by the University of Cape Town Baboon Research Unit, indicate that there are 73 baboons in that Troop.
During the initial assessment of the Tokai Troop, it was found that eight baboons had injuries which appear to be inflicted by fire.
The injuries to an adult female baboon were so severe that the BTT, assisted by animal welfare representatives and two veterinarians chose to dart and euthanase the animal on humanitarian grounds.
Medical staff, BBT members and rangers will continue to assess the Tokai Troop.
The following time-line regarding the fires and the Tokai Troop is as follows:
Tuesday March 2
- Late Tuesday afternoon, fire control indicated that the fires had reached Level 5 in the Tokai Forests and that they were holding the line on Level 4.
- Baboon rangers were asked to leave the plantations at 8pm on Tuesday night. At this time, the troop was in their sleep site, below Level 1 of the plantations around the SANParks Guest House.
Wednesday March 3
- In the early hours of Wednesday morning, gusts of strong winds reignited the fires in the Tokai Forest.
- Between 1am and 3am, the fire broke though the Level Four firelines and rapidly moved down the mountain. Within an hour, the runaway fire had reached the SANParks Guest House on Level One. The Guest House was destroyed by the fire.
- The Baboon Technical Team (BTT) was on site at 6am on Wednesday morning along with animal welfare representatives (Cape of Good Hope SPCA) and two veterinarians (from City of Cape Town & CapeNature). The forest was filled with smoke and visibility was low.
- Fire fighters evaluated the danger of falling pine trees to be high and the baboon rangers were asked to move out of the forest.
- The Tokai Troop had moved into the riverine Fairy Forests near the Guest House. The rangers were not able to encourage the troop to move out of this area. By midday, it was agreed that there was no immediate danger for the Tokai Troop and they remained in this area with water overnight.
Thursday March 3
- At 6am this morning, a team from the BTT, along with animal welfare representatives (Cape of Good Hope SPCA) and two veterinarians (from City of Cape Town & CapeNature) was able to get up to the Tokai Troop to undertake an initial assessment of the situation. Visibility had improved dramatically.
- It must be emphasised that this morning’s assessment was an initial assessment and that teams from the BTT, along with animal welfare representatives (Cape of Good Hope SPCA) and two veterinarians (from City of Cape Town & CapeNature).
- First assessments indicate that eight of the 73 members of the Tokai Troop appear to have been burnt. Injuries were identified on 4 females, 3 juveniles and 1 infant.
- Most of the injuries are concentrated on the buttocks of the baboons, indicating that they retreated to the pine trees and were burnt by flames coming up from the forest floor.
- This morning’s assessment was an initial assessment. Teams will continue to assess the situation and make medical decisions regarding all the injured animals.
- On account of the dangers of smouldering trees, the Tokai Forests remain in a restricted zone.
- Please call the baboon hotline (071 588 6540) if you have a problem.
- During this crisis situation, the baboon protocols will not be enforced.
- In this regard, the BTT would like thank the wine estates – Klein Constantia, Groot Constantia and Buitenverwachting Wine Estate for providing a refuge for the baboons on the forest edges and in their vineyards during the fires.
We would like to thank BTT members, baboon rangers, animal welfare professionals and firefighters for all their assistance today in getting baboons to safety.