Knysna-Plett Herald

Knysna’s big baboon dilemma

- Blake Linder

KNYSNA – A social media out cry has followed the announceme­nt by Knysna Municipali­ty that it is searching for a profession­al hunter to cull two alpha male baboons that frequent the eastern suburbs of Knysna.

Not too dissimilar from the issues with monkeys faced by residents of Upper Town Central, residents of the eastern parts of Knysna claim to be facing numerous ongoing battles with baboons. There have been instances where residents have had their pantries raided, gardens ruined, and some have even been chased by the primates.

While the saga has been ongoing for years, it has recently come back into the spotlight.

Call for action

One resident, Mark Sasman who has lived in Hunters Home for four years, recently penned a letter to Knysna Mayor Elrick van Aswegen calling on urgent action from him and the municipali­ty. "The baboons are raiding at will. They realise that the effort for risk to reward in getting food from homes trumps wild foraging. This will not be changed - period," wrote Sasman. "The attempts by so-called 'monitors' is 'window dressing' despite their best efforts (I have seen them trying their best and also seen them being harassed/threatened by the baboons). They are neither trained nor equipped for purpose - again despite their best efforts," Sasman continued. "The pathetic so-called interventi­ons to reduce baboon terror is, for want of a better term, wretched, oozing 'political gamesmansh­ip' as the topic is volatile given coverage from other areas. Our situation is not the same as in other areas."

Sasman feels that more needs to be done. "There has been far too much talk, meetings and obfuscatio­n on the subject. Those taking the lead are not qualified or experience­d to undertake such and the apparent apathy of the municipali­ty’s environmen­tal department is frankly disturbing."

In the past weeks an elderly man claims to have been chased into his home by a baboon while another resident sent an anguished plea for help on her local WhatsApp group after baboons invaded her flat and "destroyed everything. Everything! From the contents to the blinds to the gutters".

Over the years residents of Knysna's east-end have laid numerous complaints with Knysna Municipali­ty, calling on its urgent interventi­on in dealing with the baboon problems they face.

There has been the deployment of numerous so-called 'baboon monitors' and there have even been reports over the years of paintball guns being used in an attempt to deter the baboons.


The municipali­ty's latest attempt to come to a resolve on the matter was to issue a tender for the appointmen­t of a profession­al hunter. In the tender document, the municipali­ty states that it "requires the services of a profession­al hunter to euthanise two alpha male baboons in the Hunters Home/ Pezula residentia­l area". The municipali­ty requested quotes from registered and qualified profession­al hunters for the appointmen­t of the hunter as well as the 'price per baboon' and the cost for removal of the carcass. Peet Joubert did however warn that shooting the alpha male/s may not be the best option. "If you shoot the leader of the troop you release all the water out of the bottle, it's the moment troop rules are no longer in place," he said.

"The troop leader typically keeps the youngsters away from females and when you shoot the leader then the troop is no longer regulated. The troop will simply split into smaller troops with more leader baboons."

The advertisem­ent for a profession­al hunter elicited a strong response from residents that led to the municipali­ty backtracki­ng on the contents of the tender document. In a municipal press statement issued last week, the manager of Protection Services, Steven Langlands, stated that the "municipali­ty is not planning to cull any baboons".

He added: "As the baboons, especially some males, have been quite aggressive this is a precaution­ary measure to make sure that should there be a life-threatenin­g situation, we can act.

“This decision will be made with the guidance of the appointed service provider that did the research on the troops, as well as CapeNature."

Langlands said the decision will be made alongside CapeNature and the appointed service provider and that they "sincerely hope the matter can be managed without having to take that decision".

The social media post in which the municipali­ty backtracke­d on its tender's wording elicited a strong response from users, with 100 comments as on Tuesday 31 August.

Many of the commenters voiced their issues with the municipali­ty's tender to appoint a profession­al hunter, and many went further to state their support for the baboons and urged that the matter can be dealt with without having to kill any of the primates.

 ??  ?? A sign located in Hunters Home warning people of the baboons has been vandalised with the word ‘KILL’. Photo: Blake Linder INSET: Baboons hang around after raiding a Pezula resident’s pantry.
A sign located in Hunters Home warning people of the baboons has been vandalised with the word ‘KILL’. Photo: Blake Linder INSET: Baboons hang around after raiding a Pezula resident’s pantry.
 ??  ?? Baboons enjoy some respite after raiding someone’s pantry.
Baboons enjoy some respite after raiding someone’s pantry.

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