The SPCA was forced to euthanise another male baboon from a Simon’s Town troop on Monday, the second in a short span of a week. No sooner had our 150-year-old animal welfare organisation broken the sad news of having to euthanise a well-known adult male baboon from the Smitswinkel Troop known as Van Damme (WF9) due to serious welfare concerns last week, then an adult male baboon from the neighbouring Waterfall Troop, known as Nomahlehle (WF8) was admitted to the SPCA having been blinded in both eyes by what is suspected of having been a pepper round fired into his face at close range.
We spared no expense and effort to ensure that Nomahlehle received immediate expert assessment and medical care while being given time to recuperate at our short-term wildlife care facility in Grassy Park. Three veterinarians examined him over the space of three days.
Finally, an expert Cape Town veterinary ophthalmologist was called in for an assessment on Monday, 27 February 2023, which confirmed that Nomahlehle would never recover vision in his right eye and even with invasive treatment, would not likely recover much vision in his left eye.
“The SPCA, as the country’s oldest animal welfare organisation, has always been at the forefront of ensuring the humane treatment of all animals. When we are forced into making unpopular decisions to ensure that an animal is not suffering, we get lambasted by members of the public for doing the dirty work that no one else is prepared to do,” commented SPCA Wildlife Department Supervisor Jon Friedman.
The SPCA reminds the public that they are an independent entity bound by the precepts of the Animals Protection Act, which ensures that all animals have the right to a pain-free and dignified existence and where that is not possible, to be spared any ongoing suffering.
Nomahlehle’s overall poor body condition was symptomatic of a life lived on the urban edge. He suffered from severe dental disease, including a broken, infected canine tooth, a large abscess in his mouth and several smaller mouth ulcers.
His dental condition was likely the result of a diet containing human food waste scavenged from easily accessible dustbins and unprotected gardens over many years.
Like most baboons we treat, Nomahlehle was also riddled with lead pellets that had been fired at him over the course of his life. We counted as many as 22 penetrating pellets in his body, a record number in recent history.
“We are frankly sickened at having to once again euthanise a baboon that has suffered at the hands of people in the community alongside its natural home range while merely trying to exist as he and his kind have done for eons. That a community finds itself in conflict with baboons because they cannot mind their food waste and remove other food attractants, should not be at the expense of our fast-disappearing biodiversity, of which baboons are an integral part,” said SPCA Chief Inspector Jaco Pieterse.
The SPCA is concerned about the future welfare of the Cape Peninsula baboons following the announcement that the City of Cape Town’s Urban Baboon Programme, which serves to keep baboons out of the suburbs as far as possible, will be coming to an end in June 2023.
“Nomahlehle’s condition is a glaring example of the importance of helping to keep baboons wild and away from the dangers the urban area poses to them. Without a program geared at keeping baboons in the natural areas, there will be many more baboons subject to the same, and even worse, suffering,” commented Pieterse.
The public is reminded that discharging any firearm, including an air rifle or “pellet gun”, in a built-up area is a violation of the Firearms Control Act and firing an air rifle or pellet gun at a baboon is a violation of both the Animals Protections Act and the Nature Conservation Ordinance where stiff penalties are applied if and when convicted.
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