Live After Quit

Reclaiming Coexistence: How Cape Town is Learning to Live with its Baboons

Cape Town is a diverse city in the Western Cape of South Africa. It known for its stunning beaches and mountain scenery, however it is now gaining national attention for its unique approach to coexisting with wildlife. In particular, the city is learning how to live with baboons, a type of African monkey. Baboons are considered a problem animal in some areas of South Africa, and they typically come into conflict with humans when looking for food. This can include raiding crops, raiding garbage, and even entering houses. Such conflicts can be dangerous; baboons can carry rabies and they can become aggressive when cornered or threatened. Before Cape Town began this new effort, the city had engaged in a controversial baboon relocation program, which sought to move the animals to a remote area. However, the program was costly and unsustainable, leading the city to look for alternatives. In 2017, The Baboon Matters organization began providing workshops in Cape Town to educate people on how to live peacefully with baboon populations. The organization aims to promote a sense of understanding between the animals and the humans, and to develop solutions that benefit both. The organization also works with the local baboon population, providing nutritional supplements and providing intraspecies conflict resolution. An interesting and important part of this process is the “Baboon Conflict Hotline”, which local residents can call when they need advice, or notice a baboon in the area. The hotline has become an increasingly important tool in helping residents to understand how to handle baboon encounters in a safe and humane way. The Baboon Matters organization, along with Cape Town, is committed to finding solutions that benefit both humans and animals. By developing a sense of respect and responsibility between the two, the city is pioneering a successful model of cohabitation. It is hoped that Cape Town’s experience can be used to inform policy decisions elsewhere, ensuring that other communities are able to live in harmony with their wild neighbours. The success of the project in Cape Town has been inspiring, and it has become something of a beacon of hope for conservation efforts across the continent.