Baboons in distress
For many years baboons – and many other species – were classified as vermin, or problem animals and as a result of this unfortunate labelling, minimal effort was put into rescuing injured or sick baboons. Commonly, if a baboon was injured it was simply killed – or left to die ‘naturally’. It was only when Baboon Matters took over the management of the Baboon Monitor Project in 2001 that interventions and care were given to stricken baboons.
As the conflict situation between man and baboon increased over the years, it became apparent that a holding facility and recovery unit were urgently needed to house the debilitated animals baboons until they were strong enough to be returned to their troops.
A great deal of thought and consultation with experts in their field went into the design of the holding facility, and finally in February 2008 Dr Hernan Azorin of Fourways Veterinary Clinic made a piece of land available to build the cages. There had been just enough donations to the trust to start work on the building of the ‘baboon hospital’.
Marlei Martins of Baboon Matters was unbelievably successful at getting the cages built. She secured donations of material and time, and was able to build the facility at a fraction of the quoted prices.
At the time of building, we were concerned about budgets and it was suggested that we only build one cage – instead of the two planned. Thankfully, Marlei insisted we stick to the plan and both cages have been extremely well utilised since their completion – at one stage in 2009 we had three baboons in the hospital at one time!
The rescue of injured baboons and dispersing male baboons can be extremely time consuming but eh expertise and equipment that Baboon Matters has had specially designed and built means that we are able to capture critically injured baboons swiftly and efficiently.
Since Baboon Matters lost the contract to manage the monitor project in June 2009, there has been a period of uncertainty with regard to our role in the care and capture of injured or dispersing males. Luckily, with the increased budgets and therefore manpower, the new contractor (Nature Conservation Corporation) is managing the project well so that conflict situations have been minimised and there have been fewer injuries to baboons than in previous years (the correlation between effective baboon management and injuries to baboons is clear).
Holding facility for injured baboons
At the time of going to print, the application made by Baboon Matters to capture and care for (free of charge) all injured baboons has been turned down. Our hospital unit is freely available, yet the City of Cape Town intends to duplicate the unit by building another baboon holding facility in Westlake. It does seem rather a bizarre use of budget when clearly any (and all) available finances should be spent of education and signage or monitors at as yet unmanaged points of conflict (such as the Millers Point Troop).
It is hoped that the decision makers will come to their senses and realise that the duplication of this resource is an unwarranted expense, and that the expertise and experience gained by Baboon Matters over the past 10 years should be utilised to the benefit of all.