Environment Minister Barbara Creecy is hopeful that confusion around baboon management in the Mother City will be cleared up soon; meanwhile, The South African National Parks (SANParks) faces criticism for their inability to take lead on the matter, reported News24 over the weeked.
Confusion over who’s to be in charge of baboon management on the urban edges of the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) arose after Cape Town metro decided to ditch their 12-year-long urban baboon management programme. As per a prior article by News24 in April, the City of Cape Town admitted that the programme “hasn’t worked” and that “baboon management is not the mandate of the City”.
At this stage, no one has stepped in to claim future responsibility for the management of the Chacma baboons, also known as the Cape baboon, once the City’s programme comes to an end in July 2023.
The minister has proposed negotiations and cooperation between the relevant environment authorities – the metro, Cape Nature and SANParks. Responsibility for managing baboons that have left the TMNP and have entered residential areas has been a topic of debate by these authorities for a long time now.
But each party denies this responsibility for various reasons.
Back in 2012, it seemed like SANParks was the responsible party, after the environmental affairs minister of the time, Edna Molewa promoted a strategy on buffer zones for national parks, which stated that “any animal escaping from a national park into buffer zone areas other than adjacent conservation estate, the national park management authority must take all steps reasonably necessary to capture the animal; or deal with the animal so that the public interest is best served and any danger posed by such animal is averted or minimised”.
But according to Cape Town metro’s Albi Modise, this issue should be handled by Cape Nature, the provincial environment authority. “SANParks has always acknowledged its responsibility in managing baboons in Table Mountain National Park. By law, when animals leave a national park, they are the responsibility of a provincial entity or of the landowner on whose land they traverse,” said Modise.
However, which law makes “a provincial entity” responsible for baboons on the loose was not specified by Modise.
Cape Nature denies their responsibility in the matter. Zohra Parker from Cape Nature said, “Cape Nature has no obligation to keep baboons out of urban areas and is not responsible for nuisance animals, or waste management; and also does not have any mandated obligation towards the health and safety of city residents. We obviously advise and support where we can”.
According to DA’s Dave Bryant, the responsibility should rest solely with SANParks. Bryant argues “If an elephant leaves the boundaries of Kruger Park and enters a residential area it is ridiculous to suggest that would be the responsibility of an individual homeowner or the local municipality to capture and return the elephant.
“For SANParks to suggest that individual homeowners must now deal with rogue baboons themselves could have dangerous consequences for both animals and people”.
Constantia residents have already felt the effects of this ongoing finger-pointing. After the City withdrew four rangers from Tokai and Constantia, due to depleted “contingency funding”, baboons entered the area, caused damage to property and threatened residents and pets.