The humane use of paintball markers for baboon management

6 Jul 2021 by CapeNature and COGHSPCSA

Media Statement Date issued: 23 June 2021


CapeNature hereby confirms that the humane use of paintball markers as an aversion tool to keep baboons out of the urban areas and in their natural habitat, remains legal.

Statutory authorities and the City of Cape Town met on 26 May and 17 June 2021 to discuss the impact of the recent withdrawal of the use of paintball markers and to understand under what conditions their use may be reintroduced by the City of Cape Town’s Urban Baboon Programme.

From monitoring results provided by the City of Cape Town, the authorities have noted a steep regression of effectiveness to keeping baboons out of urban areas with the withdrawal of paintball markers. The effectiveness of using paintball markers is largely due to operator’s ability to widen their operational sphere of influence (10-20 meters from the operator) in order to encourage a change in baboon direction. Aside from baboon-proof electric fencing, no other currently available tool offers this level of efficiency.

Given the current lack of an immediately available effective alternative and the significant negative consequences for baboons and members of the public resulting from increasing habituation of baboons in urban areas, the authorities agreed that the humane use of paintball markers should be re-instated in the interim, and under a revised Paintball Marker Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

A revised SOP has been discussed and agreed between officials representing Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, CapeNature, the City of Cape Town, the Cape of Good Hope Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CoGH SPCA), researchers from the University of Cape Town and field specialists at a meeting held on 17 June 2021. The revised SOP has specifically addressed the conditions under which paintball markers can be used without causing unnecessary suffering and will replace the previous 2019 version as the City’s permit conditions specified by CapeNature.

In order to clarify their position, Mr Jaco Pieterse, Chief Inspector of the CoGH SPCA confirmed” “We have no legal power to prohibit the use of paintball markers to deter baboons but the indiscriminate use of paintball markers, fired at point blank range at any animal, may cause unnecessary suffering and, therefore, may constitute a criminal and prosecutable offence in terms of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962”. The CoGH SPCA has ensured that the conditions for humane use of paintball markers have been specified in the revised SOP and have confirmed that the new SOP takes the welfare of the baboons into consideration.

All attendees agreed that baboons are at great risk and in danger should they be allowed to enter the urban areas adjacent to their natural habitat. An increase in baboons entering urban areas since the City of Cape Town decided to withdraw the use of paintball markers as part of their Urban Baboon Programme on 14 May 2021 has been observed. The City took this decision in the light of the National

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (NSPCA) withdrawal of endorsement for the use of paintball markers on 12 May 2021. It is important to note that the NSPCA does not usually endorse such methods and they were seeking to correct this decision which they made in 2012. Rather the NSPCA’s mandate is to ensure that such interventions do not cause animal suffering.

All parties agree that the longer the situation continues without an alternative to the humane use of paintball markers, the higher the risk to the baboons and the residents of the City of Cape Town alike. Dr Ernst Baard, Executive Director, CapeNature emphasised: “We need to act swiftly to reduce the risk to both humans and baboons but need to ensure compliance with the revised Standard Operational Procedure.” Any legitimate report of the indiscriminate use of paintball markers will be investigated by CapeNature and the CoGH SPCA.

It is also important to note that the re-introduction of paintball markers is an interim measure while critical aspects of governance, regulation, agreements and plans for baboon management as well as the City’s approach to its urban baboon monitoring programme is being reviewed.


ABOUT CapeNature

CapeNature is a public institution mandated to promote and ensure biodiversity conservation within the Western Cape. The entity manages most of the mountain catchments and reserves that supply ecosystem services to the citizens of the Western Cape. This requires good scientific data, a sound understanding of fynbos ecology and commitment to the principles of integrated biodiversity management and planning. Most of this work is in remote areas out of the public eye but has a direct bearing on the quality of life of millions of people in the province.

ABOUT Cape of Good Hope SPCA

The Cape of Good Hope SPCA is a non-profit organization that prevents cruelty, promotes kindness, and alleviates the suffering of animals within the Cape Metropole. The SPCA’s objective is to serve and protect all animals, uplift their welfare, and ensure that their protection under South African law is upheld and respected. The SPCA’s mission is to prevent cruelty and promote the welfare of all animals, whilst the vision is to end animal cruelty and engender compassion for all animals.




Communications Officer

Tarcia Eiman

087 087 9262

Cape of Good Hope SPCA

Jaco Pieterse

Chief Inspector

021 700 4158/9


Related News

Blog Hero Image Tour Guide
21 Feb 2024
Tour Guides! Take Our Survey And Stand A Chance To Win

In honour of tourist guides, CapeNature and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) would like to recognise the important role tour guides play within the tourism industry in the province and beyond.

Kogelberg Nature Reserve
9 Feb 2024
Embrace Love in the Splendor of Nature

Love is in the air at CapeNature reserves this February! If you are planning to wine and dine your beloved or are in need of some self-care in the breathtaking views and wide open spaces of nature then visit one of our reserves.

Young hikers from Hikers Network appreciating the beauty of a wetland during last years World Wetlands Day
2 Feb 2024
CapeNature celebrates World Wetlands Day 2024

World Wetlands Day, celebrated every year on 2 February, marks the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an intergovernmental treaty with the mission to conserve wetlands. This day is celebrated to raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands. The theme for 2024 is “Wetlands and Human Wellbeing”.

Zebra's busking in the sun in the bushveld
25 Jan 2024
One of a kind – a unique Cape mountain zebra foal born at Sanbona

The birth of a unique foal at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is a beacon of hope for Cape mountain zebra conservation. Over the last 300 years, hunting and habitat destruction has decimated Cape mountain zebra numbers and isolated the three remaining small populations.

A person admiring the beauty of the waterfall
10 Jan 2024
Dive into West Coast Wonder

If you love being in the wild or are a water baby, this region is for you. The West Coast is truly a remarkable destination that offers a unique and diverse natural environment. If you want to find out more about our offerings and nature reserves to visit when in the West Coast, you have come to the right place.

Cape Nature CEO Dr Ashley Naidoo 002
8 Jan 2024
CapeNature Welcomes Dr Ashley Naidoo as New CEO

CapeNature is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Ashley Naidoo as its new Chief Executive Officer. Dr Naidoo commenced his duties on 1 January 2024 and succeeds Dr Razeena Omar, who retired at the end of last year after serving in the role for the past decade.