The presence of baboons in the picturesque seaside town of Kommetjie has always been a source of contention.
The conflict exists between residents of the area and Human Wildlife Solutions (HWS) and those who think the baboons are a scourge and those who want to protect them at all costs.
New tensions have risen between residents and the HWS after a baboon mother named Twiggy and her daughter were euthanised on Friday, May 22.
The HWS is the only service “in Cape Town that holds the required CapeNature permit that allows the use of aversive techniques in the management of baboons”.
“I am a rate payer and homeowner in Kommetjie. I live here because it’s beautiful and we are close to nature and appreciate this and have complete and utter gratitude for every day we are able to experience this splendour,” a resident wrote to ward 61 councillor Simon Liell-Cock. “But then come along HWS. And they destroy this peace, they have no idea what they are doing, they shoot willy nilly at the baboons, do not get a vet out as soon as a baboon injury is reported but instead let the baboon suffer for days or weeks and then decide to euthanise, a mom and baby we have been watching for months… a mom and baby that could have been helped, to stand a chance to survive…”
“HWS is not a solution; you need new “experts” Simon, these guys do not know what they are talking about,” the resident added.
According to Liell-Cock, the baboon management team confirmed the following after being dispatched to deal with Twiggy and her daughter:
– The injuries to the female adult baboon were caused by a dog, possibly two dogs, during an altercation alleged to have happened on May 14, 2020.
– The female adult baboon was judged to be old and extremely thin, with teeth in poor condition, as well as a poor body status of 1/5 on May 22, 2020.
– Wounds included tears and punctures consistent with a canine attack (vs slashes / sharp cuts which reflect an attack from a male baboon).
– Both ears were lacerated and the skin was pulled off the skull behind both ears. The inner part of the left ear was exposed and infected which affected her balance and locomotion.
– Canine punctures were evident on the top of the right shoulder on either side, part of the injury was still open and septic.
– The veterinarian suspected a break on the humerus or scapula – hence the baboon was not using one arm.
– The juvenile baboon was euthanised as it was still suckling and totally dependent on the female adult baboon.
– The adult female kept to the periphery of the Slangkop troop due her difficulty in moving and foraging as a result of her injuries. Adoption by another adult female is rare in baboons and this infant required suckling.
– The SPCA were advisers to the drawing up the City of Cape Town Guidelines for Baboon Management (updated in March 2019) which states that all suckling juveniles must be euthanised if the adult female mother is severely or fatally injured – and is to be euthanised on humane grounds.
“A team from HWS, a CapeNature-appointed veterinarian and a baboon specialist from the Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa conferred and were present to evaluate the situation – on site – on Friday, May 22. Their advice was that euthanasia was the best possible solution for both,” Leill-Cock said.
According to the resident, Twiggy had suffered from mange and had a large tumour on the side of her head. It is alleged that the HWS team was well aware of the baboon’s failing health, but did not do anything about it until they were dispatched after Twiggy was bitten on May 14.
“I can assure you that, despite what you may hear from animal rights activists, the scientists, conservationists and field teams working on the baboon issue are the most advanced in the world,” Leill-Cock said. “They are indeed caring conservationists and they too are distraught at each death but they always do what is in the best interests of the animals.”
Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.