Mkhululi Ndamase and Sive Zuzile
THE baboon that had been spotted all over Port Elizabeth was finally tracked down yesterday and – much to animal-lovers' dismay – shot dead at Alexander Road High School.
The male baboon caused quite a stir in Port Elizabeth as it roamed around for three days, evading police. It was spotted in Lovemore Heights, Walmer, the Greenacres Village complex and Parsons Hill.
Wildline founder Arnold Slabbert said he had to "take down" the animal.
"I got a lot of calls from the public," the conservationist said. "A lot of them suggested darting, but you could not get close to him because he was pretty much wild.
"You would also have had to find a vet to spend the day trying to track him down. That is expensive," he said.
"And even if you caught him, where would he go?"
Slabbert said he did what was best for the baboon and the public. "My guess is that he was forced out of a troop in Bethelsdorp where he was the leader. He must have been between 15 and 20 years and weighed 50kg.
"What usually happens is that when a new leader comes, he erases every genetic trace of the previous leader," he said.
Slabbert said he had killed the baboon as humanely as possible, using a silenced .223 rifle.
"I took him off the roof at the school – it was a clean and quick kill. I shot him in the chest.
"He was restful and did not even know I wanted to kill him. Then boom, I took him," he said.
But Nelson Mandela Bay residents, who had been following the baboon's movements on Facebook, felt killing it was unnecessary.
Natalie Alexander wrote on The Herald's page: "Clearly we living in a world of aggression!
"Don't even know how to treat our wildlife! We South Africans are supposed to make every effort to look after our wildlife or surely they will become extinct. But then we don't even know how to treat our human race! Rhinos, Baboons, what next."
Vumile Ndlela wrote: "I wonder who did that baboon kill, rape nd rob, if no one it will b a sad day for us b cos all animals r equal."
Jay Tailor wrote: "Kill the animals of the world to such an extent that some are nearly extinct but let the murderers and rapists roam free. Should have just darted the animal and taken it back to the wild."
Slabbert said he would give the baboon to one of his friends to feed to his cheetahs.
"I could not take him to the wild because he would have been killed by a lion or hyena and no troop would have taken him," he said.