Hermanus Baboon Action Group (HBAG), in co-operation with the Human Wildlife Solutions (HWS) baboon management team are calling on all residents in baboon affected areas to:
- Pack away their bird feeders and sugar water bottles for now, particularly Hermanus Heights Fernkloof and Voëlklip areas.
- Protect your vegetable gardens with a simple wooden frame with mesh firmly stretched over.
- Secure refuse bins (now a requirement for all residents in baboon affected areas in terms of the local bylaws) and never dump refuse bags on pavements or on your property, ever.
- Put dog and kitty bowls inside or in the garage for now.
- Keep fruit bowls away from windows, or out of sight.
- Harvest ripe fruit from your fruiting trees as regularly as possible. (Figs are a particular favourite and common in Hermanus suburbia.)
These all attract baboons to the suburbs. Until we all participate in the solution, the baboons will continue to find routes to return to those same properties providing temptations.
Recently, the Voëlklip troop concentrated on the Hermanus Heights area for several reasons: Seasonal fruit, availability of bird seed, hanging suet and seed balls, and sugar water bottles (like a baboon party!).
Birds are adaptable and will find food easily. They are attracted to indigenous plants such as the Cape Honeysuckle, Wild Dagga and numerous other prolific indigenous flowering plants, producing nectar opportunities almost year round. Sunbirds, mousebirds, sugarbirds and white-eyes feed and nest in Honeysuckle. Providing a simple bird bath with shallow water will attract birds to your garden anyway, as will the appropriate plants. No need to feed!
Hermanus Heights happens to be a familiar access area between the Fernkloof Reserve and Golf Estate. Numerous pine tree plantations exist on the course and baboons enjoy the feast of pine nuts as cones drop, in addition to the daily scatters of corn and birdseed several residents provide to attract the Guinea Fowls and Francolins and other birds to their properties. Please stop this for now.
HWS and HBAG would like to draw attention to the problem of attracting wildlife to feeding spots in suburbia. It encourages baboons to abandon their roles as essential seed dispersal agents in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. By foraging naturally, they help distribute seeds and bulbs of endemic and indigenous plants, so essential to the reserve’s ecosystem. By feeding baboons and other wildlife, the natural balance is disturbed and dependency on ‘easy foods’ replaces the natural activities the wildlife should be carrying out daily in the reserve.
The attraction of baboons to suburbia remains a constant frustration and diminishes the massive efforts undertaken by our monitors to keep driving the baboon troop back towards the safety and freedom of the reservation areas where they can exist in harmony with nature.
The Vogelgat troop is less habituated to suburbia than the Voëlklip troop and tends to be more skittish if they do enter Voëlklip occasionally. This troop is not covered by the contract with HWS to manage baboons for the moment. Again, the same issues tend to occur which attract this wilder troop towards suburbia. Residents in these areas are asked to remain alert to their own property issues to try and minimize the attraction of their gardens and backyards for baboons. Please remember to call the Baboon Hotline immediately if you see baboons in your area on 071 588 6540.
Residents in affected areas continue to support and welcome the introduction of the monitors and are encouraged by their positive approach and excellent responses so far. The monitors are on duty 7 days a week, irrespective of weather conditions. The consistent daily approach to the management programme ensures that a routine barrier is enforced all the time. The re-habituation of the baboons is challenging and will take some time but already progress has been made and soon the reserve will become their preferred natural safe habitat once more.