NOTES ON A COMMUNITY MEETING REGARDING BABOONS AND SAMANGOS ON HOGSBACK
At the VIC, WEDNESDAY 7 NOVEMBER 2012
This meeting was called by Mr Wiseman of the DEAT in response to letters from Ingrid Luyt. Our thanks go to Ingrid for arranging it.
Mr Wiseman from the Dept, who brought along his boss, Ricky Hannan (Tony Weber’ nephew), Judith, Fabien, Carol and Denis Collins, Jeanette Harbottle, Ingrid, Josef, Rory Blake, Shireen, Shane, Nic and Margaret (who took the chair)
The meeting opened at 10:00. Margaret welcomed the men from the Dept on behalf of the community.
Ricky emphasised that tourism is also part of their brief – not just biodiversity. HE was therefore very sympathetic to both sides.
He divided the business into two sections : baboons and Samangos, since the laws governing them are different.
Ricky introduced the subject saying, inter alia, that we don’t speak of problem animals but of “damage-causing animals”.
Judith shared some of her findings from the study undertaken by Fort Hare, citing the fact that there are two small troops which visit Hogsback (they don’t actually live here, but come through), one of 33 members and one of 30. These are about half the size of the average troop. In addition, there are two large troops, one near the microwave tower and one in the Valley. If those who regularly visit Hogsback were captured and rehomed, the others would almost certainly move in to the abandoned territory.
Ricky spoke of depredations in orchards and veg gardens, as well as safety issues. There was some passionate debate about that. The only way to reduce the extent of the depredation was either to reduce the numbers or reduce the food source. The department has, over time and in many places, tried a number of deterrents, all of which have failed.
The idea of trapping and relocating is not really a possibility because, although they are easy to catch, it would be necessary to find a suitable habitat which has no baboons resident before releasing them, and it would, at best, be a short-term solution. These small troops are actually keeping the big ones at bay.
The matter of their taking eggs and fledglings from both poultry and wild birds was also raised and discussed.
He then explained the law governing the protection of property, and said that people are entitled in the law to do whatever is necessary to protect their property:
1.1 build more fences
1.2 catch and remove the animals
1.3 shoot or otherwise kill the animal
1.4 There is open hunting season on baboons and vervet monkeys, but not, of course, on samangos
He stressed that this was not a recommendation, but just telling us what the law says.
1.5 Anything not covered by the legislation could be applied for to the Dept.
1.6 It is the duty and right of the property owner to see to the protection of his/her own land.
The local by-laws need to be adhered to, esp in regard to the discharging of firearms.
Several people stressed that as a community we are completely against killing animals, and are looking for ways to live alongside our wild life to the benefit of both.
Some suggestions made by the meeting are:
1.7 put up many signs in public places, and at B&Bs, saying “Please do not feed the monkeys and baboons”;
1.8 grow soft hedges around your property to keep baboons at bay (use pyracanthus and roses, which will grow quickly. The rambling Hogsback roses are readily available and very hardy, and many of us will happily give away hundreds of plants!). Chaenomeles, Escallonia and Abelia are also fast-growing and make good hedges).
The Department was asked to investigate the packs of hunting dogs encountered on the mountains, which certainly contribute to driving baboons into the Village.
Ricky said that he was not expecting to be dealing with a problem involving samangos – they are not usually damage-causing animals. Tim Snow of the Endangered Wildlife Trust is the person to speak to about conflict resolution between animals and human beings. Ricky will email all the details of the heads of the 5 sections of the DEAT, as well as how to get hold of Tim. It was suggested that we could have a workshop(s) on this matter for all members of the greater community, with not just a handful attending, like today.
The discussion here was much more peaceful, and some suggestions put forward included :
2.1 clearing trees and branches around the perimeter of the property so that the monkeys are not easily able to access the land;
2.2 working towards reforestation with the kind of trees which support samangos, so that their need to access the easy food in the Village is lessened;
2.3 continuing with keeping dustbins secured, compost heaps covered and windows and doors tight closed. Make it unprofitable for them to come to our gardens and homes. Don’t know what to do about the large fruit trees – maybe just harvest green and hope the fruit ripens inside?
2.4 The Department will appreciate ideas from us regarding both baboons and monkeys.
Ricky commented on the division in our community and told us that we have no hope of getting anywhere with this unless we can begin to work together, and said he was disturbed by some of the things said during the meeting.
Shane was very conciliatory expressing a willingness to work towards a united community effort to solve the difficulties we have been having.
The meeting closed soon after 12:30 with thanks to all the participants.