Baboon and human interaction in the Western Cape

by CapeNature

Encountering baboons close to urban developments

In the Cape Peninsula, Overstrand Local Authority area, the Garden Route and other areas, baboon troops, which are free-ranging in suitable habitats on the edges of urban developments, are increasingly coming into contact with humans, resulting in conflict.

The underlying conservation principle which addresses these clashes is that wild animals effectively have prior rights in that they evolved in these areas and existed there prior to conversion of the land for urban development.

CapeNature advocates for preventative measures to address the wildlife – human conflict effectively and efficiently. This approach, which addresses the problem rather than the “problem” animal, is now the standard way in which such conflict between humans and wildlife in urban areas and rural areas should be addressed. This is also in line with best practice dictated by national and international protocols in this regard. Landowners and other property owners should take reasonable steps to protect their property and other interests from being damaged or utilized by naturally – occurring baboon troops.

The main reason why baboons venture into urban areas where they come into conflict with humans is because of a readily available food source. In urban areas, pro-active measures to manage baboon problems are very important, and could include, for example, the identification of baboon hotspots; the establishment of proper signage and educational measures (the purpose being to change the attitude of humans in addressing the problem), the use of baboon monitors; electric fencing; burglar bars in front of windows and safety doors to prevent primates from entering human dwellings, baboon-proof dustbins and proper waste management strategies by local authorities and, where feasible, conditioned taste and/or sound aversion etc.

However, it is true that occasionally, despite preventative measures, certain individual animals are repeat offenders and manage to circumvent the protective measures taken. Animals which learn to overcome these measures, are usually those generally considered to have relatively high levels of intelligence, such as primates. When satisfactory evidence has been provided that despite taking the appropriate precautionary measures to prevent or minimize such damage/loss, only then is it reasonable to take further measures to attempt to solve the problem, such as cage-trapping or other appropriate management actions. The onus, however, remains on the landowner/property owner to demonstrate that he/she applied the preventative measures in a reasonable and responsible manner.

Encountering baboons on CapeNature reserves

CapeNature reserves are in remote areas, often far away from other human habitation. When you visit, please be aware that you are entering an area where baboons may forage widely. Never feed baboons. They may learn to associate humans with food and could lose their natural fear of people and become destructive. Please do not leave rubbish or food outside the houses or in the rooms as this will attract baboons. Keep doors and windows closed. When picnicking or camping, store food in your car boot or in a baboon-proof container. Never confront any baboons that you may encounter. Remember that baboons are wild animals and their behaviour may be unpredictable.

Further resources

1) Understanding Baboons

2) Landowner’s Guide to Human-Wildlife Conflict

3) Protocol for raiding baboons – this has been used for the foundation of the updated Guidelines for Baboon Management (2019)

4) Management of problematic primates in urban centres of the Western Cape – position statement



Comments are closed.