Friday, 31 March 2017

New tools to spy on raiding baboons in suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa




Date: March 24, 2017
Source: Swansea University

Scientists from Swansea University's College of Science are part of an international team attempting to better understand the human-baboon conflict in Cape Town, South Africa.

"Raiding baboons are a real challenge in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa," said Professor Justin O'Riain from the University of Cape Town, a co-author on the study published by the journal Animal Biotelemetry, who has been studying baboons in the region for over a decade.

"The baboons enter properties to raid in gardens and bins, but also enter homes and sometimes take food directly from people."

In a previous study, the team showed that whilst the management strategy was keeping baboons away from the urban space, some males were still finding ways in. The team therefore wanted to understand how the baboons were doing this.

"Raiding events are so fast, so intense, that we couldn't keep up following them by foot in urban areas with high walls and security fences. We had to find another method to document the very special techniques baboons were adopting when raiding," said Swansea University PhD researcher Gaëlle Fehlmann, lead author of the study who carried out the fieldwork in South Africa.

"Here at Swansea's Laboratory for Animal Movement we have been developing new technologies to study animal behaviours and use accelerometers to quantify how much an animal moves in the three dimensions," said Dr Mark Holton, co-author of the study.

Such methods have been used for more than a decade, but mainly on birds or sea mammals. The Swansea team designed and built bespoke collars for the baboons that would enable them to precisely track the baboons.

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