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Living with baboons – how to make life easier

George Municipality is sensitive to the problems our residents experience because of the baboon population in the northern areas of town, but it is also important that all stakeholders work together to find solutions to this complex situation. Residents need to learn to co-exist with the baboons, as we as humans have encroached on the natural habitat of the primates. Baboons are protected under Nature Conservation Ordinance 19 of 1974.

According to primatologist Dave Gaynor, baboons have been in the fynbos ecosystem for millions of years and have been a major population in terms of biomass. If they are removed, it is 100% sure to affect the fynbos. Baboons play a significant role in plant dispersal and reproduction”. The primates also keep scorpions, snakes, and rats out of the areas where they roam. Research done in Pringle Bay showed that it is clear that baboons play an important role in the ecosystem and that we need them to forage in the fynbos. However, the residential areas and villages can be a tempting alternative with the possibility of high-calorie foods. For example, just half a loaf of brown bread is equal to four hours of foraging in the fynbos for a female baboon, making up her daily nutritional supplement.

There is no option but to deter them as much as possible, because baboons will not be captured, relocated, or put down unless there is reasonable cause for this. Translocations and elimination of problem animals have sometimes yielded satisfying short-term results but rarely solved the problem. This will still not solve any problem as a male leader will just be replaced by another rival. Further, aggressive responses to problem animals (i.e. shooting, threatening) often result in transferring the problem to neighbours. It has also been reported to increase aggressive behaviours from wildlife towards humans (and between humans), worsening the situation.

It is therefore of vital importance that all involved must keep the baboons from consuming human food by denying them access to refuse and using baboon-proof bins. Residents can even go further and baboon-proof their homes so they don’t raid fridges. When it comes to gardens, preserve the fynbos and cage as far as possible from vegetable gardens and fruit trees. And never feed the baboons directly.

What else can you do?
Living and holidaying in the natural surroundings of the Garden Route means sharing space with wildlife such as baboons and monkeys. When winter sets in and natural food sources become scarcer, baboons and monkeys are more likely to forage in residential areas.

Please review the standard tips around the handling of refuse, food, and other tips.
Residents and visitors can assist greatly by reducing access to potential food sources:
Keep your dustbins closed, sliding doors bolted and windows and doors shut, especially when leaving the
house and/or when troops are in the vicinity.
If you want to keep windows open, install burglar bars with gaps smaller than 8 cm.
Do not leave pet food outside.
Do not feed wild birds and animals on the property, as this often attracts baboons.
Do not plant fruit trees, or vegetable gardens or make compost heaps unless they can be caged in or surrounded by electric fencing.