With the summer season in full swing it is important for residents and visitors alike to ensure that none of the baboon troops living on our urban edges are drawn to the suburbs by the potential food sources left behind in household rubbish.
Over the past few years residents in the affected areas in Hermanus especially have experienced constant home invasions and extensive damage has been caused by the large Voëlklip troop. The troop has become increasingly habituated to suburbia and troop size has increased significantly over the past three years, said Pat Redford, Hermanus Baboon Action Group spokesperson.
Easy access to human-derived food has caused the troop to spend most of their waking hours in high density suburbia, a pattern of behaviour not previously witnessed. Foraging in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve on the abundant natural bounty is what would be “normal behaviour” for these wild animals. The growth in permanent residents and the increased use of holiday homes has multiplied the amount of refuse and the availability of human-derived food.
However, the virtual fence programme managed by Human Wildlife Solutions (HWS) has started. The virtual fence is made up of a sophisticated radio transmitter system that relays the movements of a troop to a cellular phone. If a troop moves too close to a residential area an alert is sent out and baboon monitors deploy sound boxes that emit sounds of predators roaring, animals dying and other frightening sound effects, including bear bangers that makes a loud banging noise. The baboons are tracked via collars attached to the troop leaders.
But huge quantities of household rubbish will always remain a drawcard to these animals. The consequence of baboons having access to human food has led to their becoming addicted to starch and sugary foods, and their behaviour has changed over time. As this happens so the youngsters in the troop mimic the elders, and an unfortunate habituation to suburbia has developed over just a few generations.
Scientific evidence indicates changes to the genetics of some troops over time, as a consequence of the dependency on refined starch or high sugar contents in their daily diets. Aggressive, unpredictable behaviour can be a consequence.
The declared problem-animal areas are Kleinmond, Betty’s Bay, Rooiels, Pringle Bay, Onrus, Voëlklip, Fernkloof (including the Golf Estate), Hermanus Heights, Kwaaiwater and Eastcliff.
The municipality’s solid waste by-law stipulates that each homeowner or tenant must use baboon-proof containers in these areas.
The by-law states:
- Bins must be secured with baboon-proof locking devices
- Do not leave black bags on top or outside bin
- No black bags may be left on pavement or sidewalk
Please remember: Only put refuse bins out before 07:30 on the day of collection, not the day before. Each household is permitted one bin with four bags of household waste (which may include one bag of garden refuse). Garden waste should preferably be taken to the Hermanus Transfer Station for chipping and composting; alternatively it can be taken to the Prawn Flats drop-off point for disposal.
Refuse collection days in affected areas, irrespective of public holidays:
FRIDAYS: Kwaaiwater, Fernkloof, Eastcliff, Hermanus Heights
Refuse bags can be dropped off at the Voëlklip drop-off point near the OK Supermarket in 7th Street
- Always set your house alarm when you leave. Close all windows;
- Young baboons can access a gap 5cm or larger;
- Baboons can open sliding doors and turn handles;
- If baboons enter your house, make way so that they exit can unhindered;
- Keep pets away in a locked room until all baboons have left;
- Never threaten baboons or take food items from them;
- Warn children to drop food items and move away, if approached by a baboon;
- Remove baboon poop using gloves and detergent as soon as possible; poop may carry disease;
- Avoid leaving domestic pets outside for extended periods when you are out;
- Keep fruit bowls and food items out of sight, away from windows;
- Pick ripe fruit from fruiting trees daily. Vegetable gardens, bird feeders, dog food bowls attract baboons.
For more information, visit hermanusbaboons.co.za or email email@example.com.