Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has reintroduced the use of paintball markers to scare off baboons from entering urban areas after their brief withdrawal last month.
It said this would be for a trial period of six months, with ongoing oversight by CapeNature and the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, under a revised Paintball Marker Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
The City said the decision had been made because of the alarming increase in the time baboon troops had been spending in urban areas since May 14, and the effect on the health and safety of baboons and residents.
Two baboons died due to pellet gun wounds, and one due to a suspected dog attack in an urban area. The raiding of bins, and unoccupied and occupied houses had increased by 310%, from 29 to 119 known incidents, and the raiding of occupied houses had increased by 178%, from 14 to 39 baboons, the City said.
The City said NCC Environmental Services contracted to manage the Urban Baboon Programme would ensure all baboon rangers were trained and qualified to use paintball markers in accordance with the revised SOP.
SPCA chief inspector, Jaco Pieterse, said the organisation ensured that the conditions for use of paintball markers had been specified in the revised SOP.
CapeNature executive director, Dr Ernst Baard, said there was a need to act swiftly to reduce the risk to both humans and baboons, and to ensure compliance with the revised SOP.
Baboons Matters founder Jennie Trethowan said there had been a lack of open and transparent communication in the process.
“The NSPCA withdrew their longtime support of paintball markers without participating in planning or considering possibilities for a change in strategy. The City immediately stopped the use of paintball markers – giving the service provider no time to prepare, re-strategise or re-train field staff who have the huge task of keeping baboons out of human-occupied space.
“It’s no wonder that stopping the use of paintball markers under such chaotic conditions was unsuccessful. Given the lack of process and a history where poor decisions cause inflamed reactions, polarise communities on an already emotive topic and then, only then do the role-players scramble to come up with solutions. How can we expect any positive change in baboon management?” she asked.
Trethowan said Baboon Matters had, for years, requested a complete review and revision of the baboon management. She said none of the recent debacle would have reached the level of crisis had there been appropriate management plans and systems in place.