WATCH | Finding Jeffery: Lone baboon spotted roaming Joburg suburbs

  • A male baboon was spotted roaming through Franklin Roosevelt Park and Northcliff in Johannesburg over the weekend.
  • Founder of Community Led Animal Welfare, Cora Bailey, said they were working hard to safely trap the baboon for relocation.
  • According to Bailey, they are seeing an increase in lone male baboons in residential areas.

Johannesburg residents have encountered an unexpected visitor at their homes this month – a baboon called Jeffery who has been on the loose, wandering through several suburbs.

Finding Jeffery

Cora Bailey, the founder of Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW), told News24 that locals named the primate Jeffery and that her team had been trying to rescue the animal since the first week of March.

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In recent years, there’s been an increase in lone male baboons which roam around residential areas – a trend Bailey attributes to urbanisation.

“Male baboons can’t stay in the troop they were born in. Nature dictates that they leave to find another troop to join to ensure genetic diversity. We wouldn’t notice this because they used green corridors or moved on the outskirts of suburbia, but now we’ve disrupted this,” she said.

Bailey said they suspected the baboons were moving from troops in the Magaliesburg area and the Cradle of Humankind.

“We need to consider that we have indigenous wild animals who also deserve a place, and we cannot continue to displace them,” she added. “We can’t kill them if they are seen in our suburbs. We have to learn to co-exist and find solutions.”

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Mission impossible

The main objective now is to safely relocate Jeffery to a primate facility and release it into the wild.

However, capturing the animal is proving to be tricky. According to Bailey, there are too many associated risks with darting the animal.

“He’s quick and intelligent. Before the sedative takes effect, there’s a risk he could jump over a wall and be mauled by dogs or climb high into a tree and fall to his death.”

A safe trap

A better alternative is to build a trap cage. These are stocked with food to lure the baboon inside.  The food sits on a trap plate, which triggers the door to shut when pressure is applied.

“It can take a while, sometimes as long as six weeks. We’ve trapped baboons in the most unlikely spaces, but it doesn’t mean we’re going to be successful this time.”

However, security companies have been hampering their progress.

“Two Saturdays ago, Jeffery was making his way to the trap, and then security started chasing him in the wrong direction, basically terrifying him,” she said.

Last week, they could have trapped the baboon in someone’s garage, but five security vehicles and a police car chased it away.

“It’s important to stress that he is not a danger and will move away from any conflict or confrontation,” she said.

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