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Baboon Resource Pack

Updated: Jun 1, 2023




Baboons on the Cape Peninsula and elsewhere: A Resource Pack of research findings and other information. Everything you need to know about baboons and more! Simon’s Town Civic Association, August 2022


This Resource Pack provides links to relevant materials on baboons on the Cape Peninsula and elsewhere that residents of Simon’s Town could read to become more informed on key issues and challenges. The context is the initiative launched earlier this year by the Simon’s Town Civic Association (STCA), focused on encouraging dialogue amongst residents on how best to manage the increased presence of baboons in urban and suburban areas.


The Pack contains links to four broad types of materials: (a) official reports and other material from the City of Cape Town; (b) educational resources from a leading NGO, Baboon Matters; (c) documents discussing the thorny question of institutional mandates to manage baboons on the Peninsula; (d) material on management options and institutions such as trusts; and (e) papers reporting the findings of scientific research. Most documents can be downloaded from the internet, and others can be supplied on request.


In relation to scientific journal articles, note that this is not a complete listing (some relevant articles are not available as free downloads). For non-scientists these materials can be challenging to read and assimilate. We suggest you focus on two main parts of each paper: the introductory sections which set out the background and context of the research, and those sections headed ‘discussion’ and ‘conclusion’, where the wider significance of the findings are discussed.


(N.B. This version, V0.4, contains some new items, marked with an *)


A road map?

You are free to choose your own path, of course. For those who feel unsure of where to start, we suggest the following sequence:


(1) Begin with Dr. Ruth Kansky’s illustrated booklet and the 2007 movie on the early days of the baboon monitoring programme in Scarborough and Kommetjie (see section B)


(2) Then take a look at the City of Cape Town’s set of documents (see section A). The report on the ‘Annual Count 2021-22’ provides important data on the past and current number of baboons per troop. (If you would like to see the official ‘Guidelines for Baboon Management’ or the ‘Standard Operating Procedures for the use of Paint Ball Makers’, please request these from us.)


(3) Take half an hour to view Joselyn Moremile’s useful video presentation on baboon behavior, ecology and conflict (section B).


(4) Then read Prof. Justin O’Riain’s reply to questions posed by Elsabe Brits of Daily Maverick in 2021, which (amongst other issues) reflects on what the data on numbers tells us. (This is item no. 13 in the set of research papers in section E.)


(5) Other Daily Maverick articles on baboons from 2021 can also be read via the links in item 13 in the list of research papers. (These tend to reflect NGO perspectives.)


(6) If you are interested in the legalities, then the two documents listed in section C provide useful overviews.


(7) Section D provides recent material on management options, including fencing and institutional arrangements involving trusts, some prepared by Dr Dave Gaynor.


(8) Look at section E for journal articles that report relevant scientific findings. The year(s) in which research was undertaken, as well as the troops or sites for which data were collected, are noted under each reference. (Both timing and troop specifics are important to bear in mind, given that these are complex, dynamic and changing systems.)


A. Official Reports and Resources


This is the site maintained by the City of Cape Town since 2012. One section is headed ‘Document Downloads’ and provides access to a number of relevant and informative documents.


Another section is headed ‘Baboon management reports and presentations’. These include a full set of Monthly Reports from the City’s service providers (currently NCC, previously HWS) back to 2012, and Annual Reports back to 2015.


A recent report on the annual count of baboon numbers provides important information on troop size and trends over time:



A copy of the ‘Guidelines for Baboon Management’ (Baboon Technical Team, 2019) is usually available on the City’s website but is unavailable at present. This includes guidelines for deciding what to do with a Damage Causing Baboon. (Available on request).*


The same applies to the revised Standard Operating Procedure for Using Paint Ball Markers as Baboon Deterrents Within the Cape Peninsula (Cape Nature, 2021). (Available on request).*


B. Educational Material

‘Baboon Matters’ is a local NGO run by Jenni Trethowan. It aims “to ensure the holistic and long-term environmental protection of baboons in South Africa, and to provide effective, non-aggressive alternatives to managing human-baboon conflict”. The Baboon Matters website provides a host of resources, including information brochures, newsletters and other sources of information. See its website http://baboonmatters.org.za/ and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/baboonmatterstrust/


Baboon Matters strongly recommends that residents consult an easy-to-read booklet published in 2002 by scientist Dr Ruth Kansky, which provides an accessible overview of baboons on the Cape Peninsula (note that its statistics on baboon numbers are now somewhat outdated).



Another reading from an activist perspective is a short paper by Karin Sacks, which discusses troop structure and emphasizes non-lethal management.


Sacks, Karin, 2019. ‘The Conservation, Health and Welfare of Baboons on the Cape Peninsula’. (available on request).*


Useful video on baboon behavior, ecology and conflict with humans

Moremile, Joselyn, 2021. NCC presentation on ‘Baboon Behaviour, Ecology and Conflict’*


Illuminating video on the baboons programme in Scarborough and Kommetjie early 2000s

‘The Last Baboons of Good Hope’ (2007, Scarborough and Kommetjie)*


Enjoyable read

The short book ‘My Friends The Baboons’ by Eugene Marais was first published in 1939 and is available from Amazon in a 1975 reprint.


C. Legal mandates for baboon management

Two useful documents explain clearly why it has proved so difficult to reach agreement on the thorny issue of ‘legal mandates’ for baboon management to date.


1. Ayele, Zemelak, 2009 ‘Monkey Business. A case study of roles and responsibilities.’ Local Government Bulletin 11 (4), Dullah Omar institute, University of the Western Cape.


2. High Court of South Africa, Western Cape Division 2016, City of Cape Town vs Minister of Environment and others, Case 10554/2015. (Available on request from bcousins@plaas.org.za)


D. Management options

1. Gaynor., D., 2021. ‘Assessment of Bettys Bay Baboon Management Options After Initial Implementation of Baboon Monitors’. Unpublished report, July 2021. (Available on request.)*


Summary: The only long-term solution to the Bettys Bay baboon problem is to keep all baboons out of residential areas. This helps the baboons since their welfare and survival is negatively impacted with time spent in residential areas. This removes the concerns of resident safety, damage to property and sense of wellbeing and it removes the conflict between residents with different ideological stand points. For the municipality it avoids the threat of litigation and reputational damage from litigants and lobbyists going to the press and claiming lack of protection for residents and their property on one hand and lack of protection of baboons and their welfare on the other hand. This report sets out to answer the following questions: Is keeping baboons out of residential areas feasible? What changes are needed? Can baboons be kept out of residential areas without resorting to removing the worst raiders? Have the current management strategies led to the split up of the baboon troop and if so, what changes can be made? Is “herding” baboons by baboon guardians in the residential areas a viable alternative strategy to the current strategy? What can be done to maximise the broadest community support for and minimise reputational damage from keeping baboons out of residential areas?


2. Gaynor, D. 2022. ‘Alternative to fencing 3.2km of Eagles Nest Wine Farm’, unpublished report. (Available on request.)*


Summary: This report discusses an alternative approach to the protection of a wine farm from raising baboons in the Tokai/Constantia area. It suggests that financing maintenance of the fence should be the responsibility of a not-for-profit trust (e.g. a “Mountain Fencing Trust”) which would upgrade fences and be responsible for their maintenance. All parties benefitting from the fence should contribute to the fencing trust (residents, farms, businesses, SANP, City of Cape Town and Province).


3. Electric fencing:A five minute video on electric fencing and its use as an intervention to prevent baboon incursions in a suburban area in Tokai/Zwaanswyk is available at:* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tj5YY-vwOYI


E. Research findings (mainly from the Cape Peninsula, but including other research of potential relevance and interest)


Baboon behaviour and socio-ecology on the Cape Peninsula

1. van Doorn, A.C., M.J. O’Riain and L. Swedell, 2010. “The Effects of Extreme Seasonality of Climate and Day Length on the Activity Budget and Diet of Semi-Commensal Chacma Baboons (Papio ursinus) in the Cape Peninsula of South Africa”, American J.. of Primatology 72. (https://www.mikegolby.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Van-Doorn-AC-et-al-The-effects-of-extreme-seasonality-of-climate-and-day-length-on-the-activity-budget-and-diet-of-semi-commensal-chacma-baboons-2010.pdf)


(Plateau Road, 2004/5)



(7 troops, 2006-09)


3. Bracken A., et al., 2021. “Socio-ecology Explains Individual Variation in Urban Space Use in Response to Management in Cape Chacma Baboons (Papio ursinus)”. International J. of Primatology, 2021. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s10764-021-00247-x.pdf


(Da Gama, 2018)


4. Bracken, A.M., Christensen, C., O'Riain, M.J., Fürtbauer, I. and King, A.J., 2022. “Flexible group cohesion and coordination, but robust leader–follower roles, in a wild social primate using urban space”. Proceedings of the Royal Society. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Andrew-King-11/publication/358146830_Flexible_group_cohesion_and_coordination_but_robust_leader-follower_roles_in_a_wild_social_primate_using_urban_space/links/61f90ce94393577abe054d54/Flexible-group-cohesion-and-coordination-but-robust-leader-follower-roles-in-a-wild-social-primate-using-urban-space.pdf


(Da Gama 2018).


Impacts on baboons of presence in urban areas

5. Hoffman, T.S., and M.J. O’Riain, 2011. "The spatial ecology of chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) in a human-modified environment." International Journal of Primatology 32, no. 2 (2011): 308-328. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jm-Oriain/publication/226029399_The_Spatial_Ecology_of_Chacma_Baboons_Papio_ursinus_in_a_Human-modified_Environment/links/59f9cbdd458515de05ce4ad5/The-Spatial-Ecology-of-Chacma-Baboons-Papio-ursinus-in-a-Human-modified-Environment.pdf


6. Hoffman, T.S., and M.J. O'Riain, 2012. "Monkey management: using spatial ecology to understand the extent and severity of human–baboon conflict in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa." Ecology and Society 17, no. 3 (2012). https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol17/iss3/art13/


(Nine troops, 2011)


7. Drewe, J.A., O’Riain, M.J., Beamish, E., Currie, H. and Parsons, S., 2012. Survey of infections transmissible between baboons and humans, Cape Town, South Africa. Emerging infectious diseases, 18(2), p.298. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310462/


(Five troops, 2011)


8. Fehlmann, G., M.J. O’Riain, C. Kerr-Smith, S. Hailes, A. Luckman, E.L.C. Shepard & A.J. King, 2017. “Extreme behavioural shifts by baboons exploiting risky, resource-rich, human-modified environments”. Scientific Reports, 2017. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-14871-2.pdf


(Tokai, 2014)


9. Chowdhury, S.J., Brown and L. Swedell, 2020. “Anthropogenic effects on the physiology and behaviour of chacma baboons in the Cape Peninsula of South Africa”, Conservation Physiology Vol 8, 2020. https://academic.oup.com/conphys/article/8/1/coaa066/5879264


(Tokai, 2009-2011)


Baboon management strategies and responses


10. Kaplan, B.S., O’Riain, M.J., van Eeden, R. and King, A.J., 2011. “A low-cost manipulation of food resources reduces spatial overlap between baboons (Papio ursinus) and humans in conflict”. International Journal of Primatology, 32(6), pp.1397-1412. https://www.mikegolby.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Bentley-S-et-al-A-Low-Cost-Manipulation-of-Food-Resources-Reduces-Spatial-Overlap-Between-Baboons-Papio-ursinus-and-Humans-in-Conflict-2011.pdf


(Waterfall, 2009)


11. Fehlmann, G., M. J. O'Riain, C. Kerr‐Smith, and A.J. King, 2017. "Adaptive space use by baboons (Papio ursinus) in response to management interventions in a human‐changed landscape." Animal Conservation 20, no. 1 (2017): 101-109. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/78860811.pdf


(Tokai, 2014)


12. van Doorn, A.C., and M. J. O'Riain, 2020. "Nonlethal management of baboons on the urban edge of a large metropole." American Journal of Primatology 82, no. 8 (2020): e23164. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342568066_Nonlethal_management_of_baboons_on_the_urban_edge_of_a_large_metropole


(Da Gama, 2004 - 2008)


13. O’Riain, M.J., 2021. “Responses to questions by Elsabe Brits” for an article published in Daily Maverick on 6th September 2021. (Available on request, also accessible as an attachment within the Daily Maverick article: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-09-06-monkey-business-part-three-cape-peninsulas-dated-baboon-management-plan-is-a-failure-say-critics/ (Links to two more articles in Daily Maverick from 2021 are also available from this one.)


Human-wildlife relationships and conflicts

14. Smuts, B. 2001. “Encounters With Animal Minds” J. of Consciousness Studies 8. https://mikehoolboom.com/thenewsite/docs/1280.pdf


15. Kansky, R., M. Kidd and A.T. Knight, 2016.. “A wildlife tolerance model and case study for understanding human wildlife conflicts”. Biological Conservation 201. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305324912_A_wildlife_tolerance_model_and_case_study_for_understanding_human_wildlife_conflicts



(Knysna, 2014)


17. Kansky, R. and T. Maassarani, 2022. “Teaching nonviolent communication to increase empathy between people and toward wildlife to promote human–wildlife co-existence”. Conservation Letters. https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/conl.12862


(Kavango - Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, Namibia, 2019)

18. Psiuk, K. 2022. “People and Baboons in Cape Town: Rethinking Interactions with Wildlife in Urban Areas”. Master’s thesis, Stockholm University.


(Five troops, 2021).


Compiled by Prof. Ben Cousins, Peter Willis and Nadima Smith for the STCA, August 2022.

Contact address to request copies of materials not available online: nadima.stca.enviro@gmail.com

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