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Cullinan and Associates, lawyers acting for the EMS Foundation, sent an urgent letter of demand to the Overstrand Municipality on the 31s May 2024.

The EMS Foundation formally objected to the Overstrand Municipality’s Baboon Management Plan for Pringle Bay, which was published by the Pringle Bay Rate Payers Association on Facebook on the 30th April, in a letter on 2 May 2024.

The EMS Foundation also objected to the Overstrand Municipality’s Baboon Management Plan in its capacity as a member of WAPFSA, who submitted a separate letter of objection to the Plan on 3 May 2024.

“For the reasons set out in those letters, which we will not repeat here, we are instructed that these methods will cause suffering to the Pringle Bay troop, and will be severely detrimental to their well- being, especially since the members of the troop currently include several infants including a very recent new-born. To date our clients have seen no scientific evidence that these methods are safe or will not affect the troop’s well-being.

The decision to employ these baboon management methods constitutes “the management, conservation and sustainable use” of animals for the purposes of section 2(a)(ii)(A) of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (NEM:BA) and such a decision requires the consideration of the well-being of these animals.

If the well-being of the baboons in general and the vulnerable infants especially had been considered at all, these methods would not be proposed and consequently the decision to employ them can be challenged on the basis that a relevant consideration was not taken into account. The employment of equally effective baboon management methods that do not involve causing stress and suffering to the baboons have also simply not been considered, rendering the decision reviewable on that basis also.

The use of such methods by the Municipality also in our view constitutes a contravention of section 2(r) of the Animals Protection Act and a criminal offence, in that they constitute an act which causes any “unnecessary suffering” to an animal. Due to the high level of management of the Pringle Bay troop and their presence in an urban setting, our view is these animals are effectively under the control of the Municipality and these actions fall within the ambit of that Act.

The decision to employ the baboon management methods specified in the Plan is therefore inconsistent with the legal duty of the Municipality to consider and protect the welfare of the baboons in the troop.

Furthermore, section 28(1) of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (NEMA) requires the owners of land, among others, to take reasonable measures to prevent environmental degradation. In terms of section 28(3)(c) the measures may include ceasing any act causing the environmental degradation. Our client’s view is that, for the reasons it has explained in its objection letter to the Plan and that of WAPFSA, taking measures to drive a baboon troop out of its natural habitat using such violent methods as are proposed will likely lead to the premature loss of members of the troop, harming the troop and consequently the ecosystem in Pringle Bay and therefore causing environmental degradation.

To date no substantive response has been received to the letters of objection referred to above and we also place on record that OM has indicated that it will not reply to correspondence from us or our clients.

Therefore there has been no opportunity to engage in meaningful consultation with OM regarding the matters addressed in this letter.

We are therefore instructed to demand, as we hereby do, that you confirm to us by no later than 12 noon on Monday, 3 June 2024, that you will desist from implementing the Plan and the baboon management methods it specifies, failing which our client will consider further legal action against you.”

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