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Baboon troubles – use an electric fence

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26 Jan 2011

Marauding baboons have plagued residents of Constantia, Tokai and the Cape Peninsula but a solution might be at hand for those residents who can’t stand being raided any more.


For decades property owners in and around Cape Town have been plagued by marauding troops of baboons that raid their land, causing havoc and destruction. In KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, people have complained about vervet monkeys stealing property from homes or golf estates.

Now it seems that a solution for these tormented property owners is to install electric fencing around the perimeter and baboon expert, Justin O’ Riain says that it is 100% effective at preventing incursions.

He says that research at the Steenberg Golf Estate proves that a high electrified fence surrounding that property has prevent baboons from venturing into the estate and keeps them within their natural foraging areas.

O’Riain says that the key to reducing the conflict between baboons and humans is to restore the natural foraging areas in lowlands that have been lost to urbanisation and vineyard plantations.

He says that electric fencing has proved more effective than the “bear bangers” or explosive devices that had been used with some success in Simon’s Town. O’Riain is an associate professor at the University of Cape Town’s zoology department.

Sympathising with the baboons, O’Riain pointed out that only 16% of the animals’ natural habitat was available to them and that it was an urban myth that baboons lived in high mountain areas and only came to the suburbs to raid them.

There are currently 475 baboons living on the Peninsula with 307 in the south and 168 in four troops in the Constantia and Tokai areas. He says that other methods of managing baboons include removing alien vegetation (particularly pine trees which attract them) and reducing access to food sources derived from humans.

Much the same is likely to apply to the vervet monkeys in other parts of the country. These creatures are not as troublesome but do cause some annoyance, particularly when they steal the occasional golf club or ball during an inter-club tournament on courses such as Southbroom or Magaliesig.

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