A Written Response to a Document Published by a Pringle Bay Resident on Facebook
DOWNLOAD TO READ THE DOCUMENT PUBLISHED ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
THE OFFICIAL RESPONSE FROM THE EMS FOUNDATION:
The primary purpose of Not for Profit and Public Benefit Organisations is to engage in one or more public benefit activities for charitable, philanthropic or altruistic reasons without contemplating the notion of profit.
The EMS Foundation questions the motive for the publication of unscientific, dramatic content contained in a document which is riddled with inaccuracies and contradictions from the opening sentence.
We can only deduce that the objective of this publication, titled Sustainable Human and Wildlife Conservation in Pringle Bay, may be an ill-advised attempt to create an environment of hostility towards the Chacma baboons who have lived in the area for hundreds of years.
The information contained within this document is anecdotal and therefore damaging to the reputation of the village and the wider community, we have elected to publish a formal response.
Qualified Opinion About the So-Called Human Wildlife Conflict
In our quest to publish a factual response to the document we requested the qualified opinion of an expert who is uniquely experienced to comment on the baboons who live in Pringle Bay and on the realities of human wildlife conflict.
Craig Spencer was the Manager of Environmental Conservation Services in the Overstrand Municipal District for many years, he also initiated the Marine Anti-Poaching Unit. Spencer is currently the Director of Transfrontier Africa and the Black Mambas, both are highly successful organisations, which he founded.
In 2006 an enlightening documentary was produced about the baboons living in Pringle Bay which features Craig Spencer and is available to view on YouTube. https://youtu.be/mVxwC6TADRk?si=uQUxcf0JBVYb_hiZ
Spencer generously provided written comment on the rhetoric expressed by the author of the document and numerous social media posts and those residents who support him.
“So, when we talk about human wildlife conflict, and in this case baboons in the residential areas of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, I always maintain that we should never forget some basic principles:
1.Baboons will always occur there and therefore always cause a challenge. This goes for anyone who wishes to build in a wetland, fire risk areas, or a sand dune. Sacrifices must be made and solutions sought.
2. Responsibilities must be shared and it is unfair to expect authorities to provide a silver-bullet solution. Property owners have an equal responsibility to protect their property and find solutions to reduce conflict.
3. One should never allow conflict with wildlife to polarise a community. Especially when living in a natural area such as Kogelberg. It could rather unite communities.
4. The management of animals that cause conflict cannot be solved with science. Engineering solutions and scientific input can reduce impacts and losses. But mostly, the ethical questions must be answered.
5. Any solution will require a life-style change. Sacrifices will have to be made. Baboons are not logical and critical thinkers. We are. Therefore the sacrifices must be made on our side.
6. I say again, any actions taken or remedial measures put in place, must be ethical. If ethics are ignored, the community will be divided and conflict shifts from the focal animal, to our human neighbours. Primate vs primate, nonetheless. Our species has walked on the moon. We access the world wide web and communicate around the world on a phone the size of a cigarette box. Yet we cannot outsmart a baboon? This is only because we are not tolerant and compromising. We lose the moral high-ground if we choose lethal solutions before all other ethical solutions have been exhausted.”
The Forced Removal of Baboons from Pringle Bay Does Not Work
The author of the document seems to ignore the fact that the majority of residents in Pringle Bay are not in favour of the cruel methodology of forced baboon herding, the removal of individual baboons or the removal of an entire troop.
These were all tactics deployed by a company called Human Wildlife Solutions (HWS). Unfortunately, the Overstrand Municipality overlooked the fact that their contract was not renewed on the Cape Peninsula. HWS was appointed by the Overstrand Municipality to manage the baboons in Pringle Bay at a huge cost to the Overstrand ratepayers.
During their unpopular and unsuccessful tenure as baboon monitors in Pringle Bay, Human Wildlife Solutions made the questionable decision in 2020, to remove the entire troop of baboons from the village. HWS monitors drove the troop across the R44 to the Bufflesdam area where they were held with force. During the absence of the Pringle Bay baboons, a troop of baboons arrived from Hangklip to fill the void, both these events were well documented. The Pringle Bay baboon troop eventually returned to Pringle Bay, although fewer in numbers as many of the troop had perished as a result of the forced removal.
Despite being previously unsuccessful, Human Wildlife Solutions organisation tried to force the troop to Buffelsdam in 2023 with the use of paintball guns. Cullinan and Associates, under the instruction of EMS Foundation, reminded HWS to consider the principles as set out in section 2 of the National Environmental Management Act, 107 of 1988, in particular that (s)sustainable development require the consideration of all relevant factors including… that the disturbance of ecosystems and loss of biological diversity are avoided, or, where they cannot be altogether avoided, are minimalized and remedied (Section2(4)(a)(i).
Advice from the Local Authorities for the Residents who Have Made a Lifestyle Choice to Live with the Baboons in Pringle Bay
Baboons are classified as protected wild animals in the Western Cape which means that persons may only hunt a protected animal if they comply with prescribed conditions which also include provisions of Section 29 of the Nature Conservation Ordinance.
Importantly according to a position statement published by Cape Nature the underlying conservation principle which addresses the conflict between humans and baboon troops, which are free-ranging in habitats on the edges of urban development, is that they effectively have prior rights in that they evolved in these areas and existed prior to conversion of the land for urban development. Landowners and other property owners need to take reasonable steps to protect their property and other interests from being damaged or utilized by naturally occurring baboon troops.
Furthermore, CapeNature states that 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 proactive measures to manage baboon troops are very important the establishment of proper signage and educational measures in order to change the attitude of humans in addressing the presence of baboons. The use of baboon monitors, electric fencing, burglar bars and safety doors to prevent baboons from entering properties as well as baboon proof dustbins and property waste management strategies by local authorities is vitally important.
To reiterate, in the Western Cape baboons are a protected species, they cannot be exterminated as pests. The Cape of Good Hope SPCA reminds us that it is illegal to feed baboons. At all times stay at least ten steps away from baboons. It is illegal to use weapons to try and scare or hurt baboons. The use of pellet guns, BB guns, air rifles, catapults, sticks and other weapons is against the law, particularly in a residential area.
The SPCA has recently laid criminal charges against a woman in Simonstown for animal cruelty and the reckless use of a firearm. Baboon experts agree that cases of baboons physically harming humans are rare, there appear to be no such reported incidents of this happening in the Western Cape in recent years. The media article reporting on the Simonstown incident also noted the social media campaign in Pringle Bay which wrongfully informs residents that it is permissible to discharge a weapon to prevent harm to property, that is deemed a justifiable reason and is not in violation of the law.
Further advice is offered by the Cape of Good Hope SPCA for people who have made the lifestyle choice to live with baboons in Pringle Bay. Close the doors and windows when baboons are about, make sure your bins at home are baboon-proof, make sure your vegetable gardens and compost heaps are covered at all times. If you have fruit or nut trees in your garden, make sure you pick all the ripe fruit and nuts from the trees.
The Overstrand Municipality and the Pringle Bay Rate Payers Association advises residents of Pringle Bay not to put out fruit or seed for birds as baboons are also attracted to these treats. Please feed pets inside or remove leftover food as soon as your pet has finished eating.
All dogs must be on a lead and under the control of the owner when in a public place, beach or on a mountain trail.
Furthermore, the advice states that the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve is the natural home to troops of Chacma baboons. Baboons have learned that human food is delicious and easy to find which has made baboons lose their fear of humans. Lock doors and windows behind you when you leave to go outside. Burglar bars are effective when the gaps are 5cm or less. It is illegal to fire a gun, pellet gun, air rifle or paintball gun in a public space.
Primatologist Expert Opinion Hostile Baboon Management Tactics
Dame Jane Goodall a primatologist has expressed on opinion over the baboon management in the Kogelberg biosphere, referring to the baboon management guidelines as unnecessarily hostile tactics. The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve Company which has a UNESCO mandate for oversight of the area, also expressed its objection to the methods used by HWS which include paintballing, removal or euthanizing of baboons.
In 2020 David Attenborough expressed his support for the efforts of conservation groups working in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve to allow baboons to continue to roam free. “The problem has been created by people attracting these intelligent creatures close to human habitation by leaving refuse and discarded food easily accessible, so there is surely a moral duty to find a humane solution to the problem”.
If all rules and regulations that are set out by CapeNature, the SPCA, the Overstrand Municipality, the Pringle Bay Rate Payers Association, and the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, are closely adhered to, the baboons living in Pringle Bay pose no threat to human well-being nor does their existence impinge on anyone’s human rights.
The continuous malicious lies and misinformation that is being perpetrated on social media about KVET is well noted. The insinuation that KVET is spying on residents of Pringle Bay is ludicrous. We have advised KVET to record all of these libellous accusations and to seek legal remedy.
Image Credit: KVET
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