The Cape of Good Hope SPCA has launched an investigation following a distressing incident on 19 September 2023 in which a Seaforth resident shot at a group of baboons, resulting in the death of a juvenile member of the Seaforth Troop also known as the Smitswinkel Bay splinter troop.
The individual, who remains unnamed due to ongoing investigations, has confessed to shooting three baboons that had allegedly entered her residence, ransacking her kitchen. She has defended her actions by stating that the shooting was an act of self-defense against the attacking baboons.
However, the SPCA challenges this narrative. Contrary to the perpetrator’s claims, baboons are not typically aggressive unless directly threatened. This position is further bolstered by a concerning social media post made by the same individual on the Fish Hoek Community Facebook group a day prior to the incident. In the post, she explicitly threatened to shoot any baboons entering her property, leading the SPCA to believe that the act was intentional and premeditated.
Our Wildlife Department has since taken custody of the deceased baboon and will be conducting a post-mortem examination.
As a result of this incident, a criminal case has been initiated against the perpetrator at the Simon’s Town South African Police Service (SAPS). Charges have been laid in terms of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962 for animal cruelty and the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000 for the discharge of a firearm in a residential area.
In 2022, the former alpha male of the Smitswinkel Bay Troop (“Van Damme”) began forming this splinter troop. In an effort to prevent the formation of a new troop which would be without management resources and thus left to their own devices in the dangerous urban area, the City of Cape Town and CapeNature jointly proposed that members of the public could apply for Van Dammes’ translocation to a sanctuary off the Peninsula. This alternative was proposed to avoid humane euthanasia in terms of the management guidelines, in response to previous public outcry surrounding this approach. However, no applications for his translocation were received and Van Damme and his troop of approximately 14 baboons quickly solidified, taking up residence in and around the urban area of Seaforth. In February 2023, Van Damme was humanely euthanised by the SPCA following significant injuries sustained from another male baboon. Despite temporary field ranger resources allocated by the City to encourage the splinter troop to rejoin the main Smitswinkel Bay following Van Damme’s absence, the troop did not re-join the main troop and largely remained in the Seaforth area. In early June 2023, the City of Cape Town ceased these monitoring activities. This abandonment has led to increased baboon incursions into urban areas, interactions with residents and tourists, and damage to properties. The local community has voiced its anger over the City’s decision, and sadly, the SPCA has observed a concerning increase in injuries and fatalities among the troop members.
The SPCA urges the public to remain cautious and compassionate towards the wildlife and report any sightings of any person being cruel towards the baboons by calling our 24/7 Inspectorate Control Room on 021 700 4158/9. No other baboons from the troop have been confirmed to have been killed or seriously injured in the incident, but the SPCA encourages the public to report any injuries as soon as possible.