The Humane Use Of Paintball Markers for Baboon Management

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Media Statement                                                                                                                                                                  Date issued: 23 June 2021


CapeNature hereby confirms that the humane use of paintball markers as an aversion tool to keep baboons out of the urban areas and in their natural habitat, remains legal.

Statutory authorities and the City of Cape Town met on 26 May and 17 June 2021 to discuss the impact of the recent withdrawal of the use of paintball markers and to understand under what conditions their use may be reintroduced by the City of Cape Town’s Urban Baboon Programme.

From monitoring results provided by the City of Cape Town, the authorities have noted a steep regression of effectiveness to keeping baboons out of urban areas with the withdrawal of paintball markers. The effectiveness of using paintball markers is largely due to operator’s ability to widen their operational sphere of influence (10-20 meters from the operator) in order to encourage a change in baboon direction. Aside from baboon-proof electric fencing, no other currently available tool offers this level of efficiency.

Given the current lack of an immediately available effective alternative and the significant negative consequences for baboons and members of the public resulting from increasing habituation of baboons in urban areas, the authorities agreed that the humane use of paintball markers should be re-instated in the interim, and under a revised Paintball Marker Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

A revised SOP has been discussed and agreed between officials representing Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, CapeNature, the City of Cape Town, the Cape of Good Hope Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CoGH SPCA), researchers from the University of Cape Town and field specialists at a meeting held on 17 June 2021. The revised SOP has specifically addressed the conditions under which paintball markers can be used without causing unnecessary suffering and will replace the previous 2019 version as the City’s permit conditions specified by CapeNature.

In order to clarify their position, Mr Jaco Pieterse, Chief Inspector of the CoGH SPCA confirmed” “We have no legal power to prohibit the use of paintball markers to deter baboons but the indiscriminate use of paintball markers, fired at point blank range at any animal, may cause unnecessary suffering and, therefore, may constitute a criminal and prosecutable offence in terms of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962”. The CoGH SPCA has ensured that the conditions for humane use of paintball markers have been specified in the revised SOP and have confirmed that the new SOP takes the welfare of the baboons into consideration.

All attendees agreed that baboons are at great risk and in danger should they be allowed to enter the urban areas adjacent to their natural habitat. An increase in baboons entering urban areas since the City of Cape Town decided to withdraw the use of paintball markers as part of their Urban Baboon Programme on 14 May 2021 has been observed. The City took this decision in the light of the National

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (NSPCA) withdrawal of endorsement for the use of paintball markers on 12 May 2021. It is important to note that the NSPCA does not usually endorse such methods and they were seeking to correct this decision which they made in 2012. Rather the NSPCA’s mandate is to ensure that such interventions do not cause animal suffering.

All parties agree that the longer the situation continues without an alternative to the humane use of paintball markers, the higher the risk to the baboons and the residents of the City of Cape Town alike. Dr Ernst Baard, Executive Director, CapeNature emphasised: “We need to act swiftly to reduce the risk to both humans and baboons but need to ensure compliance with the revised Standard Operational Procedure.” Any legitimate report of the indiscriminate use of paintball markers will be investigated by CapeNature and the CoGH SPCA.

It is also important to note that the re-introduction of paintball markers is an interim measure while critical aspects of governance, regulation, agreements and plans for baboon management as well as the City’s approach to its urban baboon monitoring programme is being reviewed.

ENDS [626 words]

ABOUT CapeNature

CapeNature is a public institution mandated to promote and ensure biodiversity conservation within the Western Cape. The entity manages most of the mountain catchments and reserves that supply ecosystem services to the citizens of the Western Cape. This requires good scientific data, a sound understanding of fynbos ecology and commitment to the principles of integrated biodiversity management and planning. Most of this work is in remote areas out of the public eye but has a direct bearing on the quality of life of millions of people in the province.

ABOUT Cape of Good Hope SPCA

The Cape of Good Hope SPCA is a non-profit organization that prevents cruelty, promotes kindness, and alleviates the suffering of animals within the Cape Metropole. The SPCA’s objective is to serve and protect all animals, uplift their welfare, and ensure that their protection under South African law is upheld and respected. The SPCA’s mission is to prevent cruelty and promote the welfare of all animals, whilst the vision is to end animal cruelty and engender compassion for all animals.


CapeNature Communications Officer Tarcia Eiman 087 087 9262

Cape of Good Hope SPCA Jaco Pieterse Chief Inspector 021 700 4158/9

Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)/(ANATOPIX)

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