Mitigating human-baboon conflict within Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) to ensure that events and productions take place effortlessly.
OUR CLIENT’S NEED
The TMNP boasts a quota of 4.2 million visitors annually, making it the most visited of all the national parks within South Africa.
The management of baboons within the TMNP involves implementing operational measures to ensure that the interaction between baboons and people are mitigated to an extent that allows potential negative impacts on people, baboons and resources within the TMNP to be limited or reduced (Photo Plate 1).
Various locations within the TMNP are utilized for events, functions and media productions, and many of these locations are home to numerous baboon troops. In order for certain activities to be permitted at these locations, clients would need to ensure that the impact on wildlife in the area is well-controlled or prevented.
Clients have previously reported aggressive behaviour and raiding at events and functions by individual baboons and/or baboon troops, which would often lead to dangerous situations. As a result, many clients require solutions to allow their guests visiting the TMNP to have an enjoyable experience without compromising on the safety of their guests or experiencing human-baboon conflict situations.
DESIGNING A CUSTOMISED SOLUTION
NCC Environmental Services (Pty) Ltd. (NCC) has gained substantial experience in the mitigation and management of baboon-human conflict on the Cape Peninsula. By acknowledging the possibility of continuous change in baboon troop dynamics and social behaviour within the TMNP, NCC continuously updates its guidelines for the management of baboon troops within the park in order to ensure that baboon troop management at events is correctly and effectively implemented (Photo Plate 2).
Since the start of the implementation of the management of baboon troops at events within the TMNP, the recording of baboon troop activity at each event has remained NCC’s priority. With this, NCC is able to conclude on the successful reduction and prevention of baboon troop activity at each event held within the park where baboon monitors were present.
The methodology used for mitigating human-baboon interaction entails ‘holding a line’ on the periphery or boundary of where the proposed activity will be taking place (Photo Plate 3). This method allows baboons to have complete freedom of choice within all natural areas and only attempts to prevent baboons from entering the area in which the human activity will be taking place. The baboon monitors are thus stationed close to human activity and if baboons approach the area that is being monitored, the baboon monitors will herd the baboons away towards the natural surrounding environment. Baboon monitors therefore ensure the safety of people and food located within the area in which a specific activity will be taking place. The baboon monitors will not leave the specified area of activity in order to further herd any baboons, as the priority is to solely mitigate human-baboon interaction within a specified area, as agreed upon by the client.
Management tools such as bear bangers, pepper ball guns and high pressure hoses are not used within the TMNP, as the potential impacts of these tools pose an additional risk to the health of humans and animals within the park.
NCC has developed customised solutions for the mitigation of human-baboon conflict within each specific location where its services have been required to date. Previously, the amount of baboon monitors allocated to each event was based on the amount of people attending each event. However, as baboon troop population dynamics and behaviour varies according to location, the effective management of baboon troops in, for example, the Tokai area, requires more resources than managing a baboon troop moving through the Cape of Good Hope area. This is due to the fact that the baboon population in the Tokai area is significantly larger than the baboon population of the Cape of Good Hope area. Baboon troops in Tokai are also well habituated to the surrounding urban setting, whereas the population of the Cape of Good Hope are only exposed to tourists driving by in vehicles or frequenting the restaurant area at most. For the same amount of guests attending a function at an event at these two locations, NCC will therefore provide a larger number of monitors to effectively manage baboon troops in Tokai.
NCC also ensures that its field managers and baboon monitors are experienced and are constantly brought up to speed with new management methods for mitigating baboons at various locations on the Cape Peninsula. NCC therefore continuously ensures that all our baboon monitors are extensively trained and understand the concept of ‘holding a line’ as a method for averting baboons. In addition, toolbox talks are regularly conducted with both our clients and monitors in order to improve on safety conditions when in the presence of baboons.
NCC is furthermore aware of the dangers of habituation to alternative methods and utilizing tools for the management of baboons if these methods are overused.
ACHIEVING REAL GROWTH
Mitigating human-baboon conflict within South African National Parks’ TMNP allows events and functions to take place without the concern of the immediate threat of unpredictable baboon and wildlife behaviour in the area (Photo Plate 4).
The safety of our clients on site is important, and reducing the risk of any interaction with baboons during functions allows them and their clients to conduct their business without this additional safety threat. Managing baboon troops at events also allows NCC to practice ‘real growth’ for our planet, as preventing the habituation of wildlife to human food and activities is important for maintaining biodiversity within these areas over the long term.