Background and current status:
The Voelklip troop hails from the pristine, abundant conservation area of Fernkloof Nature Reserve where these primates have been foraging naturally on the endemics and indigenous bounty for centuries. Sadly, they are now habituated to suburbia and have become increasingly aggressive since baboon monitors and the virtual fence were discontinued.
The concept of a CONSISTENT baboon monitoring program is highly favored by the majority of residents and conservationists in Hermanus’ most affected areas.
The original program, employing EWPW workers from the community, ran successfully for years. They became familiar with the hierarchy of the particular troop and were trained to coerce the baboons away from suburbia, safely back to the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. The program was stopped in April 2013, ‘due to unavailability of finances’. The subsequent ‘cheaper alternative’ was the installation of beacons at various points in Fernkloof Nature Reserve to create a ‘virtual fence’. Together with collaring of alphas in the troop, linked to a location based website, and ID tagging, this approach by Human Wildlife Solutions worked well, encouraging the troop to remain in the reserve, together with the monitoring.
(This is practiced in the Cape Peninsula with a success of 98%, according to HWS, and City of Cape Town budget for this annually).
After the monitors were withdrawn, hundreds of residents affected by the problem baboons campaigned and petitioned to Provincial level authorities, to mandate the Municipality to budget and fund baboon management in the Overstrand. Finally, this was approved by Province, and a co-operative function between Cape Nature and Overstrand Municipality is now in place, to commence during November 2019.
Residents living in the affected areas are relieved that their health and safety is being addressed, and that the baboon species will be protected from the hazards and risks associated with being habituated to high density suburbia.
Without public participation and awareness of the dilemma, the situation could have continued escalating.