Gwanda to start capturing baboons as the animals threaten to overrun the town
Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu , [email protected]
THE Gwanda Civil Protection Committee has moved to tackle the problem of baboons which continues to haunt residents in the town.
This comes after an 18-month-old boy from the West Nicholson area was attacked by a baboon recently.
His mother Ms Petronella Moyo (22) had to pursue a male baboon who had grabbed the boy from their home. The animal dumped the child after dragging him for a distance of about 50 metres.
The baby sustained deep cuts after the baboon bit him twice. He also suffered bruises from being dragged by the animal.
As part of efforts to address the problem, the Civil Protection Committee has facilitated the creation of a steering committee to tackle the baboon menace. As a contingency measure, the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority is set to facilitate a baboon-capturing exercise in the mining town. The committee is also set to conduct an awareness campaign where residents will be educated on the proper disposal of waste.
Speaking after a meeting on behalf of the Gwanda District Development Coordinator who is also the Gwanda Civil Protection Committee chairperson, Ms Nomathemba Ndlovu, the principal administrator in her office Mr Thulani Moyo said while it is difficult to totally eliminate the baboons measures have to be put in place to minimise the damage they cause.
“A meeting was held at provincial level where the Minister of State for Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Dr Evelyn Ndlovu raised concern over attacks by baboons on humans. From that meeting, we agreed that we should meet as Gwanda District stakeholders involved in environment management to come up with a solution to try and manage the menace of baboons.
“We met as stakeholders and resolved that we should start mobilising resources for the construction of cages to capture the baboons. We also put in place a steering committee that will be monitoring and reviewing progress in managing the baboon menace. We haven’t had such a committee before,” he said.
Mr Moyo said the baboon capturing exercise will now be conducted continuously. He said in the past ZimParks has been conducting the baboon-capturing process periodically using cages from the Hwange National Park. Mr Moyo said this time around institutions and business premises that are affected will be encouraged to have permanent cages that will be mounted in their areas. He said the exercise will be led by ZimParks.
“We need a continuous mitigatory measure. The problem which has escalated is linked to climate change where baboons are now searching for food in towns because of limited food and water supplies in the bush. This is a phenomenon that we might have to manage for a long time because it’s impossible to eliminate the baboons completely,” he said.
Mr Moyo said the steering committee will conduct awareness campaigns in the town to encourage proper waste management. He said poor disposal of waste attracts baboons.
Members of the steering committee comprise the DDC’s office, ZimParks, Ministry of Health and Child Care, Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, local authorities, Environmental Management Agency, affected learning institutions, ZRP and the business community.
Residents that stay in Gwanda Town and surrounding areas have been forced to live with baboons which have become a real menace to them. Of late the situation has escalated as the population of the baboons seems to have increased. The animals have caused severe damage to residents’ properties and institutions and have made life difficult for many.
Residents are forced to always be a step ahead of the baboons who are very calculative and constantly display human traits such as opening doors and taps leaving the water running. They have also failed to run income-generating projects such as orchards, poultry, and gardens. The baboons are also a menace in institutions such as the Gwanda Provincial Hospital, St Christopher’s Primary School, Mount Cazalet Primary School, Gwanda Government School, and Joshua Mqabuko Polytechnic College.
The baboons reportedly started flocking to the area around 2007. Residents have continuously called for a lasting solution to the problem.