Category: News

EMS MEDIA STATEMENT – MEDIA STATEMENT 19TH OCTOBER 2023 – SOCIETY HAS A MORAL OBLIGATION TO ADDRESS THE ONGOING CRUELTY SHOWN TOWARDS BABOON FAMILIES IN PRINGLE BAY, SOUTH AFRICA

EMS MEDIA STATEMENT – MEDIA STATEMENT 19TH OCTOBER 2023 – SOCIETY HAS A MORAL OBLIGATION TO ADDRESS THE ONGOING CRUELTY SHOWN TOWARDS BABOON FAMILIES IN PRINGLE BAY, SOUTH AFRICA

https://emsfoundation.org.za/society-has-a-moral-obligation-to-address-the-ongoing-cruelty-shown-towards-baboon-families-in-pringle-bay-south-africa/ 

The mission of the EMS Foundation is the advancement and protection of the rights and general welfare of wild animals, children, elderly persons and other vulnerable groups in South Africa and Africa, for the purpose of alleviating suffering, disrupting inequality in all its forms, raising public awareness, empowering, and providing dignity. 

The EMS Foundation has publicly challenged the currently held provincial attitude that Chacma baboons are of the lowest conservation concern and our research points to the fact that the continued existence of this species is being threatened. 

Intensive research of the management of baboons in the Cape Peninsula and the Overstrand over the past decade has highlighted the fact that the protocols established to manage baboons were instituted by a baboon management company and adopted without a public participation process by the City of Cape Town Municipality, CapeNature and the Overstrand Municipality. Tens of millions of rands of taxpayers’ money has been spent on attempting to manage baboons using these protocols, which according to the available data and expert and public opinion, have not been successful for baboons or humans. These protocols to their very core must now be closely examined. Baboon management at the very least requires a flexible, dynamic and compassionate approach. 

In order to find appropriate and alternative solutions the EMS Foundation has formed a think tank of experts and concentrated their efforts on studying and monitoring the dynamics of humans living with a troop of baboons in the town of Pringle Bay in the Overstrand, in the Western Cape of South Africa. 

Pringle Bay is registered as a Conservancy and is part of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO Heritage Site. The Kogelberg is considered the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom.  The municipality, residents, visitors, property and business owners have a critical responsibility to protect and preserve the flora and fauna within this pristine natural environment. 

“It is essential that all community members work together to keep baboon’s out of harm’s way by not allowing certain attractants in and around your home.  For instance avoid planting fruit trees, close windows and doors during the day if you do not have burglar bars, install baboon-proof burglar bars where possible of 8cm apart, and do not feed birds. Ensure that you have lockable bins, all bins used in baboon-affected areas should be baboon proofed and locked. Refuse bags should not be left lying open easily available to baboons.  Store you bin in a lockable refuse room, garage or shed.  Warn your neighbours when baboons are in the vicinity so that they can close their doors and windows, when a baboon is in your garden or house, back away slowly do not block its escape route.  Recognise that living in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve is a lifestyle choice that involves certain responsibilities.” 

This was the content of a statement published by the Overstrand Municipality for the residents living in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. 

In order to find appropriate, alternative solutions in the promotion of living harmoniously with baboons, undeterred by criticism, the EMS Foundation has selected to concentrated our efforts on monitoring the Pringle Bay chacma baboon troop as a study mode. This is because these baboons need to frequently pass through the village as part of their natural passage to and from their sleep and foraging sites. 

The central business district of Pringle Bay was built in the middle of their range and the baboons have adapted accordingly. The troop is now considered an urban baboon troop which has adapted due to the exponential densification of the area over the years. The urban area offers great rewards, in terms of food, but also great risk such as injury and loss of life to the baboons.

Real-time data obtained from a locally based non-governmental environmental organisations, has been analysed by experts.  The data, for example indicates that the Pringle Bay baboon troop spends the majority of their time during their visits to the town in the same areas.  Areas where there are non-baboon proofed shops, alleyways with non-baboon-proof bins, the contents of which are a wide variety of left-over food from restaurants and pubs. The failure by Overstrand Municipality to enforce bylaws regarding animal proof bins and to eliminate human derived food sources is currently one of the main causes of human/baboon conflict in Pringle Bay. 

All data is received with supporting photographic and video evidence. This verifiable evidence brings into question of the contradictory content of posts published on social media and in WhatsApp groups by some residents, residents who are openly not partial to the conditions and prerequisites of living harmoniously in Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve with the baboons.

It is unfortunate that the DA run Overstrand Municipality has chosen not to hold public consultation on the human baboon conflict in Pringle Bay since October 2022. In our view this is in direct contravention of the Municipality’s Constitutional and statutory duty to provide transparent, democratic and accountable government for communities and to encourage the involvement of community organisations. 

Besides the ongoing daily problems with non-compliance with regards to refuse removal and storage, some residents refuse to baboon proof their homes and some forget to secure their homes. The current situation in Pringle Bay is confounded by the appointment by the Overstrand Municipality of untrained Eco Rangers.  The Eco Rangers published mandate is to warn residents that the baboon troop has entered the central business district so that residents are warned to close doors and windows timeously.  However, the Eco Rangers have taken it upon themselves or have been purposefully tasked to harass and chase the troop across the public beaches, across the lagoon and up the mountains towards the villages of Betty’s Bay and or Rooiels.  

Similar actions to force the baboons into an area which could cause suffering and possible loss of life were carried out by the baboon management company Human Wildlife Solutions.  Cullinan and Associates, environmental lawyers, acting for the EMS Foundation, previously reminded the Overstrand Municipality that such actions that cause the disturbance of ecosystems and loss of biological diversity should be avoided in terms of section 2 of the National Environmental Management Act, 107 of 1988.  Concerns are being raised as why the baboons are being chased across the public beach which are frequented by residents, visitors and unaccompanied children.

Furthermore, and of great concern, residents of Pringle Bay are being encouraged by a disinformation campaign published on social media that “it is permissible to discharge a weapon to prevent harm to property damage, that it is deemed a justifiable reason and is not in violation of the law.  It is important to note that the Animal Protection Act of 1962 does not pertain to wild animals”.   The incitement of violence towards humans and nonhumans cannot be tolerated in any form whatsoever.  

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recently addressed children’s rights to freedom from all forms of violence (art. 19, sections 35 and 36) in particular environmental violence, climate structural violence and psychological violence from exposure to domestic violence or violence inflicted on animals. Every nation under the binding UN convention, signed by almost every country in the world including South Africa, is now under a strict and binding obligation to address and prevent any tradition or practice which involves violence against an animal which could be seen by a child. 

According to verifiable data the violence towards the Pringle Bay troop has notably increased. 

Residents of Pringle Bay were also unreliably informed on social media that wildlife activists prevented a baboon capture cage from entering Pringle Bay on the 20th of September 2023.  Verifiable photographic evidence confirms that the vehicle containing the baboon capture cage was parked with all the numerous official Overstrand Municipality and Law Enforcement vehicles and canine units at the community hall for the duration of the attempted capture. 

On the 19th October 2023 the EMS Foundation received a copy of a Report entitled Perpetuating the Endless Cycle of Cruelty Against Baboons in the Overstrand – A 30 Day Study of Incidents in Pringle Bay During September and October 2023.The detailed Report reiterates the fact that living in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve is a lifestyle choice and the Cape Floral Kingdom is one of the world’s most threatened hotspots and the important role the baboon plays to protect this pristine environment. 

The content of this Report also raises critical questions about the expiration and therefore the validity of the Compactum, the Overstrand Municipality Strategic Baboon Management Plan, the Baboon Liaison Groups and the permit issued by Cape Nature to attempt to remove a baboon from Pringle Bay on the 20th of September 2023. 

On the subject of the attempted removal of Kayne, an ill-advised decision taken by the Overstrand Municipality to capture and relocate a male baboon from Pringle Bay, the Municipality has confirmed, in its response to an access to information request by the EMS Foundation, that it has no scientific data or research relating to the baboon population in Pringle Bay. Therefore, in our view, the decision to relocate Kanye, is not based on robust, or any, scientific evidence that the relocation will promote conservation, avoid the loss of biodiversity and promote the well-being of both Kanye and his current troop. 

The decision to relocate Kanye is not backed by robust scientific reasoning especially because the latest available real-time verifiable data suggests that not only has Kanye fully reintegrated into the Pringle Bay troop, he has formed an alliance with the alpha male, fathered an infant and has not attempted to snatch any food from anyone in the central business district of Pringle Bay for months.  

In our learned and experienced opinion, the decision to remove baboons in this manner is designed to de-stabilise a baboon troop, decrease its genetic diversity and lead to the death or capture of a perfectly healthy male baboon. Such a decision  should not be taken without very good scientific and ethological evidence that this is the best practicable environmental option.

Whilst Mayor Rabie stated in a comment on a Facebook post that no community group met the tender requirements for baboon management in Pringle Bay it is an undisputed fact the EMS Foundation and other NGO’s wildlife and baboon experts, scientists and primatologists have a wealth of local knowledge and expertise and therefore they have an important role to play in the decision-making process regarding the protection, well-being and welfare of the baboons in Pringle Bay. The EMS Foundation is currently a member of the Ministerial Forum on Wildlife Well Being. Submissions by these kinds of organisations should not be ignored in favour of narrow private interests.

We have requested an official criminal investigation into the current situation in Pringle Bay where violence towards baboons is incited and perpetuated. 

The world is on the tipping point of climate catastrophe.  The Western Cape is particularly susceptible to climate shocks and the ever-worsening climate crisis.  It is crucial, therefore, that the primary role of conservation must be to ensure that the ecological systems and processes which are essential to life in all its forms and to sustaining and enhancing the wellbeing of humans and other forms of life, are respected, protected and where necessary, restored. 

It is not optional – local policies must now urgently reflect a progressive vision and policy based on compassion, harmonious coexistence, the ethic of Ubuntu and the recognition that humanity can only flourish in the long-term by conserving the natural systems and wild species that support all life.

A 30 DAY STUDY OF INCIDENTS IN PRINGLE BAY DURING SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER 2023 – DOWNLOAD

Statement by Kogelberg Villages Environmental Trustees issued 06 September 2023

A letter from the Overstrand Municipality (OM) has been received in response to the letters by Cullinan and Associates on the 26th August 2023 and further letter on the 28th August 2023 which was sent in association with Kogelberg Villages Environmental Trustees, Pringle Bay Rewilding, Pringle Bay Conservation Group and the Betty’s Bay Baboon Action Group. 

Cullinan and Associates Letter 26th August 2023 – https://emsfoundation.org.za/urgent-legal-objection-to-the-overstrand-municipality-threat-of-the-forced-removal-of-blue-tag-baboon-from-pringle-bay/ 

Cullinan and Associates Letter 28th August 2023 – https://emsfoundation.org.za/pringle-bay-baboon-management-an-urgent-request-for-public-consultation/

The letter from Mr. DGI O’Neill OM Municipal Manager: 

PRINGLE BAY BABOON MANAGEMENT: MEDIA STATEMENT REGARDING REMOVAL OF “BLUE TAG” BABOON FROM PRINGLE BAY TROOP

Your letter in the above regard, dated 26 August 2023, has reference.

At the outset we are not going to respond to each and every statement and allegation made by you and should this not be interpreted as an admission thereof, but rather a denial.

The decision to remove the male baboon, referred to as “Blue Tag”, from the Pringle Bay (PB) troop and to relocate him to the Gordons Bay (GB) troop, was taken after having considered the factual position “on the ground”, i.e., that he has, since his arrival in PB, not fully integrated with the PB troop in that he mostly moves/roams and sleeps alone. To this end this has been observed and confirmed by a ranger dedicated to move with him.

But apart from the above, Blue Tag has also, on many recorded instances, taken food from humans, entered motor vehicles while humans were inside, entered a room occupied by humans and also broke into and entered a motor vehicle and a building, which traits classify him as a “damage causing baboon” in terms of the Western Cape Baboon Management Guidelines – DCB Category 3, which Category in fact permits such a baboon to be euthanised.

In view of the above, the Overstrand Municipality has decided not to euthanise Blue Tag, but to return him to his home range in GB, in accordance with the Western Cape GO4 Guidelines for Dispersing/Displaced Male Baboons in Urban Areas.

We are therefore of the opinion that by having decided not to euthanise Blue Tag, but to relocate him, his wellbeing was indeed considered by the municipality, as required by the judgement of the North Gauteng High Court, referred to you in paragraph 3.5 of your letter.

We therefore consider this matter closed.
Yours sincerely, MR DGI O’NEILL – MUNICIPAL MANAGER

Herewith the response from KVET to the statements made in the letter from Mr. DGI O’Neill OM Municipal Manager:

 1 – “he mostly moves/roams and sleeps alone”; It must be stressed that he is not the only baboon, or even male for that matter, that wanders off from the troop at times and he has gone to the same sleep sites as the troop regularly. KVET would also like to understand, how is full integration qualified or determined according to the OM?

2 – “entered a room occupied by humans”; It is important to state that KVET has been monitoring this baboon for more than five months daily and has no record of him ever entering a building including any shop or restaurant.

3 – “broke into and entered a motor vehicle”; It is important to state that KVET has been monitoring this baboon for more than five months daily and has not seen him physically open a door or window, not even in the CBD.

4 – “taken food from humans”; This has been noted in the past but since the KVET BIO Programme started in the CBD where attempts are blocked, he has been less present in the CBD and has more often been observed at the poorly managed local garbage dump and KVET has footage to support this. The KVET BIO team have further made huge efforts and strides in ensuring he is blocked from the dump which has resulted in him being seen to happily forage in the surrounding areas with the BIOs as observers.

This graph shows a noted decrease in the time this individual spent visiting the CBD since the start of the KVET BIO Programme.

It is very important to note that it is not always easy to identify the individual baboons within the troop and residents and even the OM Eco Rangers can misidentify the baboons, even the four resident males. KVET representatives on the ground have seen and heard this happen and there have been false claims of the whereabouts of individual baboons on numerous occasions. We must therefore state that not all the obtained information can be taken as accurate. It is also extremely important to know if the OM have photographic evidence to back up the information as stated.

This baboon in question is a product of mismanagement by HWS who pushed his troop onto the R44. Once he arrived in Pringle Bay (PB) HWS management and monitors did nothing to prevent him coming into the CBD but filmed everything to build a case against him. There is a point of view in the management of baboons that some groups believe in one male troop for management purposes even though the correct male to female ratio is one male to 2.8 females. Family groups are integral to harmonious and stable baboon troops. We are already seeing calmer baboons without HWS in town, the Rooiels troop is the brilliant model we should be following in the biosphere NOT the HWS model.

There have been multiple observations of Kanye mating with at least one female in the troop in the last year and it is widely accepted that there is a good chance that he has at least one infant in the troop, and should the troop be left to sort themselves out the current alpha will most likely accept the other males into the troop. We must also understand that for the well-being of the troop, it is very important to have new DNA and bloodlines which is one of the more important tasks that Kanye has done.

Please note that if Kanye is taken back to Gordons Bay (GB), he will no longer fall under the Overstrand moratorium set by the mayor, but under CoCT which allows for the killing of baboons as a management tool. It must also be noted that NCC who is in charge of management in the GB area is not averse to using that as a management tool. We also want to ensure that the individuals and residents in the community who called for his removal understand that they will very likely be responsible and sign his death warrant. A very important fact and guideline is that Kanye has been resident in PB for more than 12 months being first observed on the 25th July 2022 he cannot be removed as he no longer qualifies as a dispersing baboon.

Kanye is settling into the PB troop and is integrated and mating with females. There is evidence and data that will confirm that the taking of food and incursion rate in the CBD by this baboon has drastically declined. He can no longer be considered the problem that he was. It is important to understand if it is the direction of the OM monitors to request that certain baboons continue to be ‘removed’; and we would like to understand the experience OM monitors are drawing on to reach such conclusions.

Issued by: Kogelberg Villages Environment Trustees 
Website: https://kvet.org.za/
Contact: info@kvet.org.za

KVET PRESS RELEASE FRIDAY 25 AUGUST 2023

KVET PRESS RELEASE FRIDAY 25 AUGUST 2023
This press release is a direct response to the statement sent out by Overstrand Municipal Manager Dean O’Neill at 5pm on Friday 25th August 2023. Please read the statements in conjunction for clarity and write directly to the list of officials provided at the beginning of the KVET statement.
Statement by Dean O’Neill:
25 August 2023: Update on the Pringle Bay baboons Overstrand Municipality received numerous complaints about rogue baboons in Pringle Bay.
According to residents, there is one male baboon in particular, called Blue Tag, that has been habituated to such an extent that he no longer displays any fear of humans. Residents are “robbed” of their shopping as they exit shops, and some have experienced minor injuries after tussles with Blue Tag.
It has been established earlier in the year that Blue Tag is not a native of the Pringle Bay troop and migrated from its natal troop in Gordon’s Bay earlier in this year.
The Municipality is currently liaising with the relevant officials at the City of Cape Town to capture Blue Tag and to return him to his natal troop, in accordance with the G04 – Guidelines for Dispersing/Displaced male baboon(s) in Urban Areas.
At this time, we would also like to report that HKM1 has moved to Silversands troop on 9 August, and we have had no interaction with this male since it has moved. It was originally from the larger Hangklip troop, but we have no evidence of current raiding behaviour from it in the towns of Bettys Bay or Pringle Bay.
REM1 has become the Alpha male of the PB troop and although it is raiding in the CBD and residential areas and is teaching the juveniles these raiding traits, it will be very unwise to remove the Alpha male from the troop. This will disrupt the social structure of the troop and there is no known male at this point that can take over from REM1 in the position of Alpha male. The Municipality will keep a watchful eye on it, but not remove the baboon at this stage.
Residents in towns where baboons are known to be present are once again reminded that it is an offense to feed baboons. Also do not interfere with our staff working with the baboons and refrain from treating these wild animals as pets or family members.
Issued by: Overstrand Municipal Manager, Dean O’Neill
KVET RESPONSE:
DA Premier Alan Winde: winde@westerncape.gov.za
DA Minister of Local Government Affairs and Government Planning Anton Bredell: anton.bredell@westerncape.gov.za
DA Mayor Annelie Rabie, Mayor Overstrand: annelierabie@overstrand.gov.za; akorver@overstrand.gov.za
Municipal Manager Dean O’Neill: mm@overstarnd.gov.za Infrastructure, Planning and Environmental Issues Steven Muller: smuller@overstrand.gov.za
OM Senior Environmental Manager Liezl de Villiers: ldevilliers@overstrand.gov.za
OM Project Manager Baboon Management Plan Jill Hendriks: projectmanagerbmp@overstrand.gov.za
DA Ward Counsellor Theresa Els: tels@overstrand.gov.za
On December 23rd 2022, Overstrand Municipality sent out a statement declaring the removal/ relocation of 4 Pringle Bay “dispersing” male baboons.
KVET, a non profit, community-based project responded by sending out a worldwide press release to halt this action.
The EMS Foundation for the “advancement and protection of the rights and general welfare of wild animals, children, elderly persons and other vulnerable groups in South Africa and Africa for the purpose of alleviating suffering” received said press release and in itself responded with a Cease and Desist.
Until tonight’s statement there have been months of communications from KVET members requesting a meeting between KVET and OM to work together for the best interests of the residents of the villages and the various baboon troops. 2 weeks ago KVET was informed that communication between KVET and OM was closed and that no meeting could take place. This decision was mailed directly to KVET from the DA Ward Counsellor.
However, a group called Rewild Pringle Bay Baboons, (a group who would like ALL baboons removed, euthanised or kept out of the urban edge 100% of the time), of which our DA Ward Councillor is a member, managed to get a face-to-face meeting with Mayor Rabie and 4 constituents only weeks ago.
Mayor Rabie reiterated that no baboon would be euthanised or removed “ON HER WATCH” much to the horror of the group of attendees from the anti baboon group.
An agreement was made that baboons would be kept out of the urban edge 80-90% of the time but absolutely no methodology or verifiable data collection methods were discussed.
In the meantime, since April 2023 the KVET BIO (Baboon Information Officer) Program has been present in the CBD area of Pringle Bay on a daily basis. This program was set up to focus on the shop raids and the various complaints about food grabs from baboons, in particular “Blue Tag”, in the CBD. Today Blue Tag is extremely infrequently entering the CBD.
There is however no acknowledgement that over the past 5 months there are almost no food grabs let alone baboons nor “Blue Tag’ coming into the village centre? Where is the acknowledgement that the Overstrand Eco Rangers do nothing to stop any food grabs (just like HWS previously) but that the KVET BIO’s have single handedly brought the CBD back to a peaceful place to shop and stroll around in. The “Black Bag Shopping Initiative” has also helped many residents and visitors alike, understand that this is a baboon declared area and care must be taken with carrying visible food around.
KVET has kept a daily log collecting data of all baboon movements, incursions and food grabs but are unable to show this data to OM for lack of a transparent meeting. It seems that OM is not impartial and have only one agenda and that is to get votes and will make false statements to get those. It must be noted that “Blue Tag” did not arrive in Pringle Bay in 2023 as mentioned in the above statement by our Municipal Manager. He arrived in July/ August of 2022. He has therefore long passed the threshold of the G04 guidelines for dispersing/ displaced male baboon(s). He is now a resident of Pringle Bay. He is often seen integrating with the Pringle Bay troop as well as the Hangklip troop. There is video evidence of him mating with females and is therefore possibly father to one or some of the babies born in both troops in 2023. ANY ACTION TO REMOVE HIM UNDER THE G04 GUIDELINES IS NO LONGER APPLICABLE.
It should also be noted that “Blue Tag” has never been seen nor reported to have entered a residence or shop. He does however spend a lot of time at the Pringle Bay dump site. This is a waste management issue and not a baboon issue.
Statements referring to and regarding the term “interference” have been taken seriously by KVET and a definition of the word “interference” has been requested on numerous occasions to ensure that no person, resident or BIO working with KVET intervenes with any baboon management program of the Overstrand Municipality. To date no definition or explanation has been given. It is KVET’s understanding that all public area’s are accessible to all persons and residents of the Overstrand and therefore no laws are being broken nor is any “interference” of any kind taking place.
We, KVET, The Kogelberg Villages Environmental Trustees, once again, publicly, request an urgent meeting with the relevant parties of OM to discuss the baboon management plan in the Overstrand Villages.
PRESS RELEASE – KVET TO EXTEND CBD BIO PRESENCE FOR A FURTHER 3 MONTHS

PRESS RELEASE – KVET TO EXTEND CBD BIO PRESENCE FOR A FURTHER 3 MONTHS

KVET is happy to announce that the PILOT BIO PROGRAM which began just before the busy Easter weekend of April 2023 will be extended by a further 3 months (July to September).
A KVET presence will also extend to Betty’s Bay in due course.
The BIO PROGRAM was initiated in the Pringle Bay CBD area to ensure that baboons would not linger in the business district whilst passing through to their various natural foraging sites.
Residents, businesses, shoppers and visitors have all been assisted with the SHOPPING BAG INITIATIVE. This is a preventative measure against “visible food” for the baboons. Education regarding human derived food and the baboons has been a top priority and the BIO’s have handed out over 1000 black canvas bags and education pamphlets over the last 3 months. KVET would like to thank the communities in Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay for the donations of these bags without which the program would have not been as successful.
We have been complimented on how the program has created a much calmer atmosphere in the CBD and KVET has observed a greater awareness and mindfulness of the Pringle Bay residents.
We would like to thank our residents who have responded so positively to the efforts of KVET and our dedicated BIOs in the CBD. We aim to continue providing this service in the CBD so that our residents and visitors remain relaxed whilst shopping, food attractants are removed and the baboons are encouraged to stay outside of the CBD area.
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