Human Wildlife Solutions (HWS) has been appointed for the next three years to manage the Baboon Programme in towns in the Overstrand that are faced with human-baboon conflict. This management programme includes the “Virtual Fence” technology and the use of baboon monitors.
The way forward:
HWS has two current programmes in the Overstrand, the Virtual Fence Programme in Hermanus and the Baboon Monitoring Programme in Pringle Bay.
The Virtual Fence Programme will expand in Overstrand East, including Vogelgat/Voelklip/Hamilton-Russell and Onrus troops and in Overstrand West, including Kleinmond/Betty's Bay/Pringle Bay and Hangklip troops.
The final monitoring methods for Overstrand West have not yet been finalised and meetings with interested groups will guide the way forward for the management of baboon troops in the Western Section.
Where troops are being managed for the first time in the programme, the HWS specialist team will firstly monitor the troops to understand their movement patterns, sleeping sites and feeding areas, etc. before the specific methodology of the troop management will be implemented.
Interested parties - be informed:
The Municipality and HWS were unable to present introduction meetings and information sessions as planned because of the strict Covid-19 Regulations. We are unable to have these meetings at designated venues at this point but we will be making use of “virtual” meetings and information sharing sessions to present the Overstrand/HWS Baboon Management Programme to the various affected towns and communities.
The Municipality has compiled lists of Interested and Affected Parties (I&AP) for the various affected towns and will be contacting these I&AP’s to set up the “virtual” meetings in order to discuss the management methodologies for these areas.
The time and dates for these meetings have not, as yet, been set but will be announced within the next two weeks. If the community has any questions about the process or dates for the I&AP meetings, please contact your respective Ward Councillor.
“Baboons have to learn - after many, many years of raiding – that humans no longer offer easy food. This vital change is only possible if every person plays a part in the management process. The HWS Virtual Fence strives to make baboons wild animals again, restoring their natural balance,” explained HWS project manager Phil Richardson.
Since the implementation of the HWS Virtual Fence in mid-February 2020 in Hermanus, there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of occasions that individuals have left the Voëlklip troop to enter town on their own. In addition, the baboons do not travel as far into town as before. Beyond a reduction in human-wildlife conflict, there are other positive environmental benefits of baboons returning to their natural habitats, such as restoring the biodiversity of their ecosystems through seed dispersal for example.
“Baboon troops can cause extensive damage and losses in both urban and agricultural areas. Therefore it is still critical to reduce opportunistic encounters that draw the animals into town, through correct waste management. Easy access to human food changes the animal’s behaviour from being an urban-edge animal, to one that is addicted to unnatural, high-energy foods which they are not adapted to eat and can cause several health problems such as poor dentition, obesity, and diabetes. Close contact with humans can also lead to the transmission of human diseases”, states Richardson.
The HWS Virtual Fence is an innovative new tool to keep troops in their natural habitats, providing a sustainable, environmental solution to human-wildlife conflict. This non-invasive system works by mimicking natural boundaries and deterrents that the troop is too anxious to cross. The Virtual Fence creates a feeling as if there are predators in town, so that they stay out of town and rather in their natural environment. The smells and sounds created by the placement of the Virtual Fence creates the natural smells and sounds created by predators in the wild and this in turn creates an invisible barrier. In the mountains above Hermanus, these sounds and smells are sometimes confused by baboons for real predators such as leopards.
“The presence of real leopards in the area helps reinforce the threat of predators in the troop’s mind, working alongside the HWS Virtual Fence. Leopards have a vast range and are probably resident in the mountains for a few weeks at a time, thereafter only returning months later. In the interim, HWS Virtual Fence will keep their presence, and fear of predation, alive. It’s this incredible balance of man and biodiversity that we strive to conserve,” states Phil Richardson.
The Virtual Fence was specifically developed to not subject the baboons to pain. The use of paintball guns in association with the Virtual Fence is to give them the knowing that if they try to venture past the Virtual Fence line and baboon monitors infield that it will cause a temporary feeling of pain from a paintball. Just like when they try to climb an electric fence, they will get shocked and the pain from this electric shock stops them from climbing over that fence again.
More about HWS:
Human Wildlife Solutions is a specialist in resolving human-wildlife conflicts within the urban edge, with a goal to promote conservation values during this process. The company deploys innovative, minimally invasive strategies and the latest technology to control damage-causing animals, using unique, sustainable, and scientific solutions to manage baboons and other wildlife.