Raid­ing apes col­lared

Team of sci­en­tists use track­ing de­vices to in­ves­ti­gate ba­boons raid­ing Cape Penin­sula

The New Age (Northern Cape) - - WESTERN CAPE NEWS | KWAZULU-NATAL NEWS - TATENDA CHIRISERI prov­inces@the­newage.co.za

SCI­EN­TISTS from the Univer­sity of Cape Town (UCT) are part of an in­ter­na­tional team that re­vealed how ba­boons use a sit-and-wait tac­tic be­fore raid­ing peo­ple’s homes in search of food.

“Raid­ing ba­boons are a real chal­lenge in the Cape Penin­sula. The ba­boons en­ter prop­er­ties to raid gar­dens and bins, but also en­ter homes and some­times take food di­rectly from peo­ple,” di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute for Com­mu­ni­ties and Wildlife in Africa at UCT Prof Justin O’Ri­ain said.

In a pre­vi­ous study, the team showed that while Cape Town’s ba­boon man­age­ment strat­egy kept them away from ur­ban spa­ces, some males were still find­ing their way in.

The team there­fore built be­spoke ba­boon track­ing col­lars to track the move­ments and ac­tiv­ity of 10 males via GPS and ac­celerom­e­ter sen­sors.

Lead au­thor of the study, Dr Gaëlle Fehlmann, said: “Peo­ple as­sume the ba­boons don’t have enough food in their nat­u­ral habi­tats and have no choice but to for­age in town.

In fact, our re­search shows there is plenty of food in the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, where there is very lit­tle risk of the ba­boons be­ing dis­turbed by any­one. In con­trast, the chances of hu­man­ba­boon con­flicts in ur­ban ar­eas are high, but so are the food re­wards, which are 10 times richer in calo­ries.”

The col­lar data re­vealed that male ba­boons were stay­ing at the city edge, en­gag­ing in short but in­tense for­ays to the ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment when op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self, sim­i­lar to a sit-and-wait strat­egy.

Head of Swansea Univer­sity’s So­cial­ity, Hetero­gene­ity, Or­gan­i­sa­tion and Lead­er­ship group and se­nior au­thor of the study, Dr An­drew King, said: “We sus­pected the ba­boons were do­ing some­thing clever to min­imise the risks as­so­ci­ated with ur­ban for­ag­ing and the data col­lected from the col­lars con­firmed this.”

The data showed that as a con­se­quence of their raid­ing tac­tics, the ba­boons stud­ied only for­aged for about 10% of their time, which was con­sid­er­ably less than the non-raid­ing ba­boons in the Cape Penin­sula or else­where on the African con­ti­nent which spend at least half of their time for­ag­ing.

PIC­TURE: DR GAËLLE FEHLMANN

PEEPING TOM: Ba­boons in the Cape Penin­sula use a sit-and-wait tac­tic.

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