'I am living in a war zone', says resident as baboons take over

19 January 2016 - 02:25 By Shanaaz Eggington

Alison Brown is shaking with fury. She is wearing a bikini covered with a beach towel which she clutches tightly to her chest. "This is one the most spectacularly beautiful places in the Cape but I am living in hell. It's nothing but a war zone," she says.Brown lives in Scarborough, between Misty Cliffs and Cape Point."It starts at the crack of dawn when the baboons start foraging."Then, when the baboon monitors pitch up for work, the paintball guns start going off - not one shot at a time, more like 15 to 20.Her neighbour and Kommetjie Environmental Awareness Group member Russ Weston says: "The baboon monitoring programme is not working".When The Times visited Scarborough the chacma baboons, one of the peninsula's remaining 15 troops, were raiding rubbish bins while a monitor was napping metres from the scene .A few weeks ago a female baboon was shot and killed by a resident with a high-velocity pellet gun. Last month the Misty Cliffs troop's last remaining male was killed ."These horrific killings are the direct result of the monitors not doing their job ," Weston says .He conceded that residents were also at fault. Many did not secure their bins.Jenni Trethowan, from Baboon Matters Trust, fears the Misty Cliffs troop could be wiped out.But UCT PhD student Esme Beamish, who has counted baboons in the peninsula for the past 15 years, disagrees."The Cape's baboon population is growing at an average of 4% a year," she says.Beamish says baboons moved into Scarborough two or three years ago "in search of easy pickings and high-calorie food provided by an urban environment in the form of fruit, refuse and gardens".Baboons are a tourist attraction in the Cape and play a key role in the region's biodiversity. The troops are managed by a technical team made up of members from the City of Cape Town, CapeNature, SANParks, Table Mountain National Park and the SA Navy.Councillor Johan van der Merwe, the city's mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, said the monitoring programme - under which 10 troops are managed by service provider Human Wildlife Solutions - was working.A petition calling on the council to review the monitoring programme is circulating on social media.The city council is investigating the sleeping baboon monitor, Van der Merwe said."The public are urged to report any complaints."

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