South Africa: Unruly urban baboons get three strikes – then lethal injection.

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A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – Cape Town’s unruly male baboons face being killed in a new “three strikes and you’re out” ruling by nature conservation managers.

Growing development across the Cape Peninsula has caused increasing conflict between the various troops of baboons and homeowners whose houses are regularly ransacked by the animals.

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Barely a week passes without reports of baboons breaking into homes and garbage cans, climbing into open cars, or threatening people – usually well-meaning tourists who ignorantly feed them.

Male baboons are especially aggressive when they reach adulthood at age 7 to 9. That’s when they leave a troop in search of better feeding and breeding opportunities. For thousands of years, that journey would have taken them across the Cape Flats and beyond. But with their human cousins now occupying the land, the 400 chacma baboons comprising around 13 troops are effectively cut off from their migration route.

Now CapeNature, part of the city’s Baboon Management Team (BMT), which is responsible for the animals’ population, says rogue baboons face being put down if they continually misbehave.

CapeNature’s biodiversity program coordinator, Andrew Turner, says naughty baboons would be tagged for identification. If a misbehaving animal is caught three times – and after consultation with other members of the BMT – a vet would administer a lethal injection. The procedure would be witnessed by animal welfare workers.

“We’ve got to stress that this will be a last resort,” Mr. Turner says, “but we do need to minimize conflict; otherwise, people will take the law into their own hands.”

Forcing misbehaving baboons into exile or relocating all the baboons off the peninsula are not considered viable options, either. “Baboons are part of the peninsula fauna and we should make every effort to keep them there,” says Turner.

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