Maverick Citizen


Cape of Good Hope SPCA ‘sickened’ after second wounded baboon is euthanised in a week

Cape of Good Hope SPCA ‘sickened’ after second wounded baboon is euthanised in a week
Nomahahlele of Waterfall troop, Simonstown. (Photo: Di Ruthenberg)

For the second time in a week, a baboon from Simon’s Town has had to be euthanised because of serious injuries. The animal was named Nomahlehle, an adult male baboon from the Waterfall troop, who had been blinded in both eyes, seemingly by a pepper round fired at his face.

An adult male baboon from the Waterfall troop in Simon’s Town was euthanised on Monday, 27 February, after being blinded in both eyes. The injuries appear to have been caused by a pepper round — a projectile that disperses pepper particles — fired into his face at close range. 

Nomahlehle, also known as baboon WF8, was admitted to the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, where he was examined by three veterinarians over the course of three days. An assessment by a veterinary ophthalmologist confirmed that Nomahlehle would never recover vision in his right eye, and was unlikely to recover much vision in his left eye, even with invasive treatment. 

This is the second time in a week that a baboon from the Simon’s Town area had to be euthanised. On Tuesday, 21 February, an adult male baboon from the Smitswinkel troop, known locally as Van Damme, was euthanised due to serious injuries. Aside from wounds sustained in a fight with another baboon, he also had up to 15 penetrating injuries from pellet gun projectiles.

Read more in Daily Maverick:Beloved’ Simon’s Town baboon euthanised, X-rays reveal several bullet wounds” 

“We are frankly sickened at having to once again euthanise a baboon that has suffered at the hands of people in the community alongside its natural home range, while merely trying to exist as he and his kind have done for eons,” said Jaco Pieterse, SPCA chief inspector. 

“That a community finds itself in conflict with baboons because they cannot mind their food waste and remove other food attractants, should not be at the expense of our fast-disappearing biodiversity, of which baboons are an integral part.” 

Nomahlehle had 22 penetrating pellet gun wounds on his body, according to the Cape of Good Hope SPCA. He also suffered from severe dental disease, including an infected canine tooth and a large abscess in his mouth. 

“His dental condition was likely the result of a diet containing human food waste scavenged from easily accessible dustbins and unprotected gardens over many years,” stated the SPCA. 

Another adult male baboon, Ian, has taken over the leadership of the Waterfall troop. However, members of the group have strong bonds with one another and will probably continue looking for Nomahlehle for some time, according to Luana Pasanisi, founder of the Green Group of Simon’s Town.  

“There’s a lot of anguish, especially amongst certain members. [Nomahlehle] has a female that he has grown up with who’s an amputee, and she relied on him,” said Pasanisi. “It’s horrible to think that she now is still looking [for him]. This female is disabled and she’s just had his baby.” 

While baboons have long been persecuted by humans, Pasanisi noted a rise in a “lynch mob mentality” among residents on the urban fringe.  

“I think the brazenness of the persecution is horrific,” she said. 

There is plenty of information available on how a person can secure their property and waste to reduce attractants for baboons, according to Lorraine Holloway, founder of Baboons of the South

“Education is done through Facebook, WhatsApp and the media, and distribution of pamphlets within waste ‘hotspots’,” she said. “There are also groups who run education programmes for children, and there are websites where people can access information,” she said. 

“However, education needs to be better coordinated … Tourist education is all but non-existent, other than signs along the road.” 

Some common recommendations for baboon-proofing property include installing locks on bins, installing burglar bars across windows and enclosing vegetable gardens and compost heaps. 

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

Enforcing legal protections 

Despite shooting at baboons being illegal, incidents of this nature appear to be on the rise, according to Holloway. Part of the problem — the law around this issue is not effectively enforced. 

“Whenever a baboon is taken in for treatment, there is not a one that doesn’t have a pellet in it,” said Holloway. “When cases [of shooting] are reported, there do not appear to be prosecutions … that’s a huge problem.” 

The Cape of Good Hope SPCA Inspectorate Department investigates reports of animal cruelty. SPCA spokesperson Belinda Abraham told Maverick Citizen the organisation was reliant on solid evidence to build prosecutable cases. The biggest challenge it faced was securing that evidence. 

“We rely on animal-loving individuals to provide us with the kind of evidence we need to pursue a criminal case. We would require an eyewitness affidavit at the very least, or original video footage supported by an affidavit. Without this, any case we present would not withstand the tests of the court,” she explained. 

Discharging any firearm, including an air rifle or pellet gun, in a built-up area was a violation of the Firearms Control Act, continued Abraham. Firing a pellet gun at a baboon was a violation of both the Animals Protection Act and the Nature Conservation Ordinance. 

“For those convicted of crimes relating to contraventions of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962, the maximum penalties are R40,000 or 12 months in prison,” she said. 

The Cape of Good Hope SPCA has expressed concern about the future welfare of the Cape Peninsula baboons following the announcement that the City of Cape Town’s Urban Baboon Programme, which serves to keep baboons out of the suburbs as far as possible, will be coming to an end in June. DM/MC 

If you witness the shooting of a baboon with a pellet gun, please report the incident to CapeNature, Law Enforcement or the SPCA immediately.  

Important contacts: 

  • Cape of Good Hope SPCA: 021 700 4158/9 or 083 326 1604 (after hours) or [email protected] 
  • Law Enforcement: 021 596 1999 
  • CapeNature: 087 087 4021 OR 082 773 4278 
  • NCC Baboon Hotline: 071 588 6540

For more information on how to humanely secure your property against baboons, read here or here.

Absa OBP

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Karl Sittlinger says:

    While another death of a baboon is of course a tragedy, and there can be no excuses for this type of violence, it is about time to question why “a rise in a ‘lynch mob mentality’ among residents on the urban fringe” is happening.
    Speaking to some long time residents in Simon’s Town, I get the impression that there has been a significant increase in baboon raids and damage they cause. Some say they feel like prisoners in their own home, even a small mistake (which is after all human) like leaving a window open for just a few minutes, can cost you thousands if not tens of thousands of rand damage. A baboon standing in the ruin of your kitchen fletching 5cm canine teeth is a traumatic experience, no question about that.
    Full baboon proofing in such a way to maintain some kind of freedom is very expensive, a large amount of people barely can cover their expenses, nevermind afford to build and maintain extensive proofing.
    An increase in violence signals in part desperation and frustration rather than downright hate of baboons.

    Arguments like “they were here first” or “if you don’t like it, move away” to the ears of someone that has been living there for 30 years really are not a solution, and will only serve to reinforce the laager mentality.
    Hurting animals in such a way is unforgivable, yet if we want to reduce these incidents we will need to find compromises, and these will have to acknowledge the issues residents are facing and solutions that go beyond locking yourself up.

    • Peter Holmes says:

      A very balanced and impartial comment on the current situation. Some problems are insoluble; is this one of them? Who is going to find those compromises?

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