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Alpha male status and euthanasia among possible fates for Cape baboon raider

Tanya Farber Senior science reporter
Baboon troops in the Western Cape are often in the middle of the debate about how best to manage wildlife in an urban setting. Stock photo.
Baboon troops in the Western Cape are often in the middle of the debate about how best to manage wildlife in an urban setting. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Nico Smit

He's known as SWB12 and faces various fates that run the gamut from “euthanasia” to “alpha male”.

SWB12 is a young dispersing male baboon from the Smitswinkel Bay troop near Cape Point that authorities have unsuccessfully tried to integrate into the Da Gama troop after he left his natal troop last October.

A second attempt will now be made, CapeNature said on Friday after discussions with the Cape of Good Hope SPCA and the City of Cape Town.

A new methodology will be applied during the capture and release of SWB12 in an effort to increase his chances of a successful integration with this troop once the situation allows,” the organisations said in a statement.

Since the first failed integration attempt in late December, SWB12 has been “spending all of his time in Simon’s Town and surrounds, displaying raiding behaviour”.

Attempts have been made to “keep him in his natural environment and out of town where he is exposed to many dangers” but these have proven futile.

Dangers to him include traffic, dogs, and hostility from residents.

 “This time around, a different methodology will be applied that will attempt to increase exposure of SWB12 to the troop before and after his release within their home range,” the statement said.

If it fails, possible options — including euthanasia — will be discussed.

The Da Gama troop does not have an alpha male, meaning SWB12 will have the best possible chance of integration with this troop.

If his resettlement is successful, “it will be beneficial to the genetics of the Da Gama troop” and he will then also “spend most of his time with his new troop, in the natural environment”.

The intervention will include darting but not collaring or ear-tagging, and CapeNature, the SPCA and the city council “are calling on residents, the general public and stakeholders to please not follow or interfere with SWB12 in any way as this will seriously hamper his efforts to integrate”.

Also, “feeding of wild animals is prohibited by law”.

The operation might not succeed as “every relocation is different, and relies on the individual animal”.

The biggest worry is that he returns to Simon’s Town and continues to raid. “In such case, one of the outcomes that may need to be considered as a last resort is euthanasia.”


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