“I am positive that by the end of June we will be able to give positive feedback to the Overstrand community regarding the baboon management problem we are facing,” said mayor Dudley Coetzee.
This follows a meeting between the municipality and the newly-formed Hermanus Baboon Action Group (HBAG) last week to discuss the lack of progress with the signing of an agreement between the municipality, the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.
According to Coetzee the agreement has not been finalised yet, but he has been given the assurance that it is being followed up on the highest level. “I have met with Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and Anton Bredell, Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development in the Western Cape, and they have promised to assist with speeding up the process.”
According to HBAG they have advised the mayor of the voluntary group’s objectives associated with re-introducing baboon monitors to areas most affected by raiding baboons.
“The mayor indicated there was no progress regarding a required mandate from the provincial government which would enable the municipality to appoint a licensed, qualified service provider to perform baboon management programmes in affected areas of the Overstrand.
“We emphasized that by ignoring the ongoing dilemma facing hundreds of residents in these areas, the negative impact on tourism, property values, employment opportunities and the safety of residents as well as the safety of the Voëlklip baboon troop will continue,” said Pat Redford of HBAG.
According to her, different amounts have been set aside in budgets at various times. “However, until the municipality receives the mandate nothing can be done. The City of Cape Town, after a similar impasse between authorities, resolved to work in a co-operative process with authorities and communities, successfully keeping baboons out of suburbia 98% of the time, assisted by Human Wildlife Solutions, well qualified specialists in resolving baboon/human conflict,” said Redford.
Coetzee confirmed that R1 million set aside in the 2018/19 budget could not be spent and that a further R1 million has been budgeted for in the upcoming budget. “Once we receive the mandate, we will be ready to act immediately and address the problem. We do take this very seriously and we are committed to resolving the issue as soon as possible,” he said.
According to HBAG, concerns of the community have escalated over the past two months as the large Voëlklip baboon troop spends more time in the suburbs feeding on human foods, smashing plant pots, traumatizing dogs, children and the elderly. “Recently, an 18-month old child was trapped in the kitchen between her mother and a baboon while at the same time several more baboons entered through the only open window in the house,” according to HBAG.
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