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According to their own statement, on the 12th of January 2021, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA submitted an application to CapeNature for a permit to capture, transport and relocate Kataza/SK11 from the Western Cape to Limpopo.  Receipt of such application was not confirmed to the EMS Foundation on the same day by Dr Ernst Baard, Executive Director of Conservations Operations, CapeNature.  

Furthermore, according to media reports, this application was made after a meeting was held between members of the City of Cape Town Municipality and the Cape of Good Hope SPCA on the 5th of January 2021;  where it was discussed that Kataza/SK11 had not reintegrated with the Slangkop troop of baboons in the Kommetjie area. 

In August 2020, Kataza/SK11 was forcibly removed from his Slangkop troop in Kommetjie and relocated to the urban area of Tokai, and despite his own best efforts to return to Kommetjie he was forced to live in the highly populated area of Tokai for a period of over eighty  days. 

The reasons given for the relocation of Kataza/SK11 from his troop included the suggestion that he was a “raiding” baboon, that he was leading a splinter group of baboons to “raid” and that he was weakening the gene pool. 

The rapid rate of urbanization and development in Cape Town specifically, but also elsewhere in the Western Cape, is negatively affecting and placing extensive pressure on ecosystems, nature and wildlife. 

The forced removal of Kataza/SK11 from Kommetije to Tokai not only placed his life at risk but exposed him even further to humans.  Day to day sightings of Kataza/SK11 during this time period indicate quite clearly that he adapted to  being fed by humans and food inappropritately discarded by humans.  

A successful court application by a concerned member of the public, Ryno Engelbrecht, saw Kataza finally returned to his natal troop in Kommetjie but unfortunately Kataza/SK11 has not reintegrated with his natal troop and the behaviours he acquired in Tokai as a result of human interference has continued.

There is great local and international concern for Kataza/SK11, particularly  because, in relation to indigenous primates, specifically baboons, the Western Cape has, over decades, made a number of very  poor decisions.   The EMS Foundation believes that the general public should be kept apprised of the facts in a transparent and open way. 

Alarmingly CapeNature does not support relocation and rehabilitation of wild animals. Dr Baard, the Executive Director: Conservation Operations, CapeNature, has confirmed that “conservation agencies in South Africa use IUCN Red List Assessments and various Guidelines in their exercising of their mandates”. According to the IUCN Guideline on Reintroductions and other Conservation Translocations, “given the risks (to the individual(s)) and risk mitigation, we do not support translocation(s). The alternative would be placement in permanent captivity or euthanasia. For CapeNature this is a standard and we will continue implementing these”.

It is therefore logical  that if CapeNature issues a permit it will be for Kataza to be removed from the Western Cape and into PERMANENT captivity. 

The EMS Foundation believes that baboons on the Cape Peninsula, as they are key to the health of the fragile and dying ecosystem in the Western Cape, need to be protected and a concerted effort made to increase their numbers. Yet, it seems that baboons are being targeted for permanent removal by all the government agencies, including CapeNature and SanParks.  

All the letters we have written to the Western Cape government remain unanswered. Once again, the EMS Foundation calls for an official enquiry relating to the questionable decisions taken in the Western Cape with regard to baboon management.

AMENDMENT: Ernst Baard has contacted the EMS Foundation to confirm receipt of the aforementioned application from the Cape of Good Hope SPCA.

Image Credit: Kataza NCC Environmental Services

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