Updates: Our current understanding is that Bart is still alive and still on campus. The situation remains precarious. A petition has been started to raise awareness of Bart’s situation, but there is no change to the arranged plans – Bart is still due to be euthanised. We will keep you updated as we learn more.
Originating from Tokai forest, Bart is a rogue male. He is thought to have left his troop in search of another, but instead of finding a home with other baboons, he found his home with students on the campus of Cape Town University.
Originally spotted on the campus in August of last year, Bart was relocated to Cape Point – the furthest point south of the University in a place where other suitable baboon troops were known to be. As a result of previous management efforts, some troops had little to no males present – so it would have been ideal for Bart to integrate with.
Unfortunately because of the radical change in environment, it is believed that Bart could not adapt to his new surroundings, finding it difficult to forage in the unfamiliar ecosystem. Coming from Tokai where his diet would have consisted of pine nuts, vines and grass, Bart was greeted by Fynbos – which is the indigenous vegetation in Cape Point. It is likely that Bart will have never eaten Fynbos in his life, and because of the difficult nature of acquiring the edible seeds, it is expected he would have been starving. As a result he moved out of the forest and into Simons Town. This is believed to be where he learned to raid bins, cars and shopping bags. However he did not stay long, and soon returned home to Tokai forest. Sadly Bart had acquired a preference for people; their company and their food, and was soon back at the University campus.
Everybody knows Bart – he sleeps in the pine trees just above campus, has never attacked anyone and travels from bin to bin foraging most days. Because of his popularity, Bart’s case has become incredibly unique. His fame has undoubtedly affected the time scale of his ultimate date for removal, however the decision has definitely been made, and in the coming days Bart the baboon will be euthanized.
While Bart’s story is terribly sad, his plight has helped raise awareness of the baboon problem on the Cape, and with the uproar following the decision to euthanize Bart, other management options will undoubtedly be explored – hopefully leading to an ethical and appropriate solution for the baboons here on the peninsula.