Our Burning Planet


Baboon task team attempts to ‘quietly’ remove Simon’s Town troop

Baboon task team attempts to ‘quietly’ remove Simon’s Town troop
Seaforth Alpha male Martello with a female and the youngest of the troop, Kabili move quickly across the busy Queens Road. (Photo: Joyrene Kramer)

A task team has planned the reported removal and relocation of the Seaforth baboon troop. However, the SPCA, various baboon management and community groups were caught by surprise. They said necessary steps to plan a removal have been overlooked and community groups were kept in the dark.

On 14 December 2023, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA was taken aback by an email from the Cape Peninsula Baboon Management Joint Task Team (CPBMJTT) requesting assistance and observation in the capture and relocation of the Seaforth troop to what they said was a natural area on the Cape Peninsula.

Yet, the SPCA – the primary custodian for animal welfare in South Africa – said it has been excluded from the decision-making process within the CPBMJTT, which is a body formed under the directive of the Minister of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) .

“We were not involved nor were we consulted,” said Jaco Pieterse, Chief Inspector of the Cape of Good Hope SPCA. 

This has led the SPCA to reject the request to assist and observe the capture and relocation of the Seaforth troop, which consists of 14 baboons. 

deep south baboon killed

Seaforth troop’s alpha male Martello with his offspring Kabili, the troop’s youngest member. Alpha males are imperative to the troop’s social structure and family cohesion. (Photo: John Leslie)

Removal and relocation date
The initial removal was meant to commence on the morning of 14 December. However, the removal was postponed as the baboon troop dispersed higher up the mountain area when the trap cages arrived. 

“The relocation was set for this morning. We did dispatch inspectors to see what was going on, but were told that the relocation had been cancelled for today as the baboons went into the mountain,” said Pieterse. 

It is speculated that another attempt would be made the afternoon of 14 December, or the coming weekend, said Pieterse.

A lingering concern is where the troop will be relocated to, and what methods would be used by the task team. 

The Seaforth troop shot to prominence in September when a local resident opened fire on the troop, killing a juvenile.

Read more in Daily Maverick: A slaying in the Deep South: Inside the fallout from the killing of a baby baboon

Shortly after this incident local resident Ashleigh Olsen, with the assistance of a group of committed residents, raised money to place monitors with the troop to keep them safe.

On Thursday night Olsen accused the Cape Peninsula Baboon Management Joint Task Team (CPBMJTT ) of a cover up demanding to know what the plan was with the troop.

“Where are you taking the Seaforth Troop? Two weeks before Christmas and this is what the “Mother City” is doing?”
She said the the CPBMJTT (Joint Task Team of the City of Cape Town, SANParks, Cape Nature) has failed to clean up waste in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, baboon-proof waste, put up signage and awareness for the public, provide baboon monitors or provide law enforcement to enforce by laws and park regulations
“They have left a group of concerned citizens to set up a community based monitor programme and given no support, ignored extensive appeals for implementation of waste management, awareness, law enforcement and excluded the Cape of Good Hope SPCA in their task force,” said Olsen.
“And, today, two weeks before Christmas they sent in a team from NCC to capture the Seaforth Troop for ‘relocation’ and not informed the public or the monitor programme who has been watching over this troop.
“We want to see the relocation permits for this troop, we demand transparency and public participation in this process. They left us high and dry and now come in and try and capture this troop without any assurance of a safe relocation or the proposed destination and excluded the SPCA in the decision making process. UNESCO are you watching? We are, ” said Olsen.

Baboon Matters’ Jenni Trethowan explained what would be best practice should there be a need to relocate a troop: “Normally what would happen in a relocation of a baboon troop is they would erect a temporary electrified boma of sorts and you would put the troop into this safe contained space until they get used to being in a new place.” 

However, none of this has been discussed, or mentioned to the necessary organisations or community groups involved, said Trethowan. 

When contacted by Daily Maverick, the CPBMJTT stated that “the relocation of the troop is in the best interest of the safety and welfare of the baboon troop, who have been spending most if not all their time in the urban area of Simon’s Town”.

However, no answers were given about where the troop would be removed to, the capturing methods, or how the transportation process would work. The task team was also unable to provide a timeframe for the relocation or details on who the actual people are who constitute this task team.

A social media poster created to draw attention to the plight of the Seaforth troop.


The CPBMJTT claimed that the troop had been at Boulders Beach which they said raised concern about the interaction between tourists and baboons as well as penguin eggs of the African penguin colony. 

“The baboons disturb and displace the penguins and are known to feed on the penguin eggs,” the CPBMJTT claimed, although those who monitor the troop said the baboon had not engaged with any of the penguins or touched any of the eggs. Olsen pointed out that there had been no evidence of any baboons coming near any penguins or their eggs, but rather that many penguins were killed by a swarm of bees and in another incident by dogs.

“In fact our evidence through the monitoring programme shows very clearly that this troop spends most of their time in the mountain, outside of the urban areas.” said Olsen.

The CPBMJTT said it would engage with the SPCA in an appropriate forum, but as of yet, no information on the new location of capture methods of the troop has been discussed.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Juvenile baboon fatally shot in ‘distressing’ Seaforth incident — SPCA launches urgent investigation 

“The Cape of Good Hope SPCA finds it unreasonable that we are expected to mobilise the day before a major capture and relocation of an entire troop when we have been systematically excluded from decision-making processes by the CPBMJTT. Such a major relocation is not planned overnight and requires a broader stakeholder consultation and input,” said Pieterse. DM 

Absa OBP

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Chris Lee says:

    Quite happy with that, as long as it’s professionally done – despite the protestations of the local “action and interest groups” whose activities in placing monitors I do support and have assisted with financially, they’ve caused a lot of damage to my property in the tens of thousands of rands, and I would rather they didn’t.

    • Kb1066 . says:

      Why did you buy property in an area where the baboons have been present for decades

      • Chris Lee says:

        Nope. Wrong again – this old trope keeps getting rolled out by people who have no idea what they’re talking about. The baboon issue in Simon’s Town is recent as in the last 5 years or so. I have been associated with Simon’s town since the early 70’s. Try another one.

  • David McCormick says:

    Only 14 baboons in this troop? Would never have believed that (only) 14 baboons can cause such mayham to busineses and property owners.

  • Gisela Wimberger says:

    The sooner te baboons are removed the better. Humans have invaded their terrotary and made food available – that will never work!

  • dath222 says:

    Thank you, Cape Peninsula Baboon Management Joint Task Team (CPBMJTT).

    As a resident of Simonstown (I) appreciate your efforts to move this extremely destructive troop, and I hope others do too. I am tired of suffering property damage and hiding inside behind closed windows. We cannot go on like this.

    There was recently a video doing the rounds of a baboon on a restaurant table amongst the guests, helping itself. I think it is reasonable to say that if in one of the game reserves a wild animal got amongst the guests like that and that animal did not disperse forthwith, it would be dispatched, forthwith. We need that here.

    Thank you again.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    It is baffling why the removal of baboons from an urban area is characrerised as sinister, using words such as “silently”, and why a group which is obsessed with baboons is allowed to be the arbiter of how they are controlled. Like in all other situations animals, that serve no pupose but are pests, cause damage, or interfere with human activities,
    notwithstanding they are given human names, should be removed from urban areas by the authorities.

  • Sharon D says:

    Amazing how some commenting think Baboons have no purpose. Baboons are so important to ecosystems and especially with seed dispersal. Seeing as that Simons Town is on the base of a natural heritage area, you would think some commenting on this thread would realise this. Such a typical response from humans who think that if something gets in their way, remove it. Amazing how the real first natural residents of the Cape are so persecuted. One of the baboons in the troop is heavily pregnant. It is not a good idea to relocate them and put stress on her when she is due to have a baby so sooner. Well done for those residents who actually care about our natural heritage.

    • Andrew Coetzee says:

      Maybe if they stayed in the mountain and out of the town that would be true. But the baboons are now raiding every day stealing from shops and moving more and more in to town. As town baboons proof the bins they move more and more to the coast to the point they now in areas that sea birds best in. So yes baboons are important to the enviroment this troop is more a pest.

  • Mike Schroeder says:

    To claim that the baboons do not interfere with the penguins at Boulders is simply untrue … we have video taken by guests of ours that clearly show the baboons displacing and chasing the penguins on the beach, going as far as physically attacking them

  • Alan Jeffrey says:

    So the reality is-three million humans in and around Capetown vs a few hundred baboons. The arrogance of H. sapiens is unbelievable! We continue to breed uncontrollably whilst steadily destroying Spaceship Earth. How dare these baboons try and cling to existence on this planet.
    Mankind-in the main, the ugliest, most destructive, most uncaring species in the world

    • Andrew Coetzee says:

      Simonstown town as not grown much in the last 5 years and the food supply of the baboons in the wild is enough. And it not arogance. Humans are just better.

  • Agf Agf says:

    Excellent idea to remove them. Preferably to the top of a mountain in the Hottentots Holland or some equally remote place where they can exist as nature intended, eating scorpions and grubs and in turn being eaten by leopards. They do not belong in urban areas. I fully agree with the comments above as to how they are given silly human names to try and pull at the heartstrings of the foolish Baboon Matters supporters.

  • John Smythe says:

    There are a lot of people who love to buy and live out of suburbia. On mountainsides. Near the sea. Big money. But won’t accept the risks that go with it. Sad bunch.

    • Andrew Coetzee says:

      Not everyone in simons town is super rich. You can rent a place there for under 10 000 if you know where to look. All so most people bought there before the baboons became a issue. The troop only became a issue in side the town it self in the last 5 years or so. They used to only raid the out skirt rarely but now raid right down to the coast.

  • dath222 says:

    The baboons are attracted by ‘easy food’ more than simply by territory. ‘Easy food’ comes courtesy of some residents and visitors who are feeding them and those who are insufficiently motivated to secure their rubbish bins. I agree with one of the other writers, this problem appeared and has become worse over the last five or so years. It has reached the stage where if one is not providing them with food and they have access, they ‘agress’ one in the home. Hence the need to be locked in as they have also learned how to access windows, doors and might I add, fridges.

    I have known Simon’s Town all my life and have lived here continuously for almost 46 years. Ek, ek is nie ‘n inkommer nie.

  • Johan Buys says:

    humans did encroach but realistically the baboons never had a chance. If a small child is hurt the big guns will come out. Relocation seems sensible even if this is by no means an endangered species.

    We have bigger problems than this to stress about.

  • Bonzo Gibbon says:

    I can see that this is a complex issue. However, I recently returned from a trip to very densely populated central India. There are large troops of Langurs and Rhesus Macaques living in rural communities, but people do not kill them. It would be unthinkable for a Hindu to kill a monkey. Somehow, over the centuries, they have reached an accommodation with humans. Very occasionally a monkey will become dangerous, attacking people or dogs. These “criminal” monkeys are arrested and taken to monkey jail. Some are even released for good behaviour, but the incorrigibles are kept and fed and looked after.

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