Baboon 'Spiderman' still on loose in Jo'burg


The SPCA says it is having difficulty tracking down a baboon in Johannesburg's northern suburbs, which has been on the loose for about a week.

A baboon caused consternation in April last year, when it was seen roaming the suburbs south of Johannesburg. (Gallo)

A baboon is still on the loose in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) ​said on Tuesday.

SPCA wildlife unit inspector Wendy Wilson said it was difficult to find him, adding it was "like trying to track down Spiderman".

"This particular baboon has been around for a while. He comes in and out of the suburban areas. This is not the first time he has made a visit into the suburbs," she said.

He was not the only baboon in the city. A couple of lone baboons came and went in residential areas because their natural habitat was being encroached on.

"We leave them less and less space to move ... The troops have more and more pressure to survive," said Wilson.

"They push out the ones that are not necessary to the troop dynamic, and those ones are left with the situation to make their own way."

The baboon was on his journey in the suburbs for about a week.

Baboon 'is quite savvy'
"Dr Brett Gardner, [a veterinarian] from the Johannesburg Zoo, says he [the baboon] is quite savvy," said Wilson.

"At the end of the last week we tried to dart him a number of times, and over the weekend. He recognises cars, vets and dart guns. He is so savvy and always one step ahead."

She said that although the baboon had not shown signs of aggression, it would not be wise to corner the animal or make it feel threatened.

"He is quick and moves over fences and walls, and hasn't hurt dogs or cats or things like that." she said.

People could report sightings to the SPCA.

"It really comes down to knowing where he is and what he is up to," Wilson said.

"We really need someone to have eyes on him when they call and keep their eyes on him as long as they can."

Threat to local residents
The baboon, an adult male, was last seen in the Observatory area in Johannesburg.

"The SPCA ask people to not harass or abuse the baboon in any fashion, as it poses a risk to people and the baboon," said Wilson.

A baboon caused consternation in April last year, when it was seen roaming the suburbs south of Johannesburg.

The Johannesburg Zoo said at the time it posed a threat to local residents and their pets.

"For instance if it comes across a domestic dog, depending on the size of the dog, the baboon might kill it by ripping the dog's torso, or even by picking it up and swinging the dog against a nearby structure until the dog dies," zoo spokesperson Letta Madlala said.

"With regards to people, baboons do not ordinarily attack people, unless ... they feel threatened or trapped. Then they will bite, instilling severe pain as their canine teeth are bigger and longer than a lion's."

It is not known if the latest baboon sightings are of the same animal. – Sapa

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