• by: MORGAN KAY
  • recipient: Komatiland Forests PTY, York Timbers etc. Mpumalanga Parksboard.


Thank You all for taking the time and energy to read this: South Africa's baboons are being killed on a mass scale and urgently need your help to stop the killing.




1. There is an urgent need for a moratorium to be placed on the killing of free ranging baboons by these timber companies.


 - According to at least two recent witness accounts, this genocide has been ongoing .


- Hundreds of baboons have been killed by what was then Global Forest Products (now bought by York Timbers) and Komatiland Forests PTY. Once this was confronted, a moratorium was placed on the killing of baboons. The moratorium was lifted in 2008 and both York Timbers and Komatiland Forests continue to use lethal methods to kill baboons on a mass scale. Baboons are indigenous to South Africa while the pine plantations they are being killed for are alien species that damage the environment.


- Although witness accounts claim these killings have been ongoing, extremely cruel methods have been used and it has been hidden from the public, Komatiland Forests have made a statement saying the moratorium was officially lifted in May 2008 after it was agreed at a BDWG meeting where the majority of representatives were plantation owners.


It has been identified that the timber companies are still killing indigenous South African fauna - baboons - on a mass scale, to preserve alien Pine Plantations for the sole reason of financial gain.  Placing financial gain above the protection of our environment will ensure its destruction.


2. It is possible for these baboons to be relocated if Mpumalanga Parksboard will grant permits for this. Although this option has been presented to the Timber Companies and Mpumalanga Parksboard, the genocide has continued while being hidden from those stakeholders who were fighting to save the baboons


what else can you do to help?






Thomas Mbedzi <


Mpho Tjiane <




THE Forest Stewardship Council - FSC


FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world%u2019s forests.








Thys De Wet <> 


Thys de Wet has been employed by KLF to find a solution to the baboon damage in Komatiland plantations




JAN MULLER Mpumalanga Parks Board


DRIES PIENAAR Mpumalanga Parksboard - phone: 013 759 5342>




Shaun McCartney  - York Timbers 









Update on the mass killing of baboons:


 The information below has been gathered from various stakeholders, baboon experts, witnesses to the killings and other parties who have been involved in this issue since 2006


Below is the attendance list of the last BDWG (baboon damage workshop group) Meeting where it was decided that the moratorium on the killing of baboons be lifted:


 There were SEVEN plantation owners present along with one representative from the E.W.T - ENDANGERED WILDLIFE TRUST (who are helping to find non lethal solutions and do not condone the killing) -  and one from Mpumalanga Parksboard. No scientific representatives, no animal welfare representatives and no stakeholders who were previously at the BDWG meetings to fight for the baboons were told about the meeting or the decision.


 To quote one of the stakeholders who attended BDWG meetings in the past: "Stakeholders at a stakeholder meeting were given the impression that their recommendations would be implemented and results monitored for success.) However, very few were attempted, particularly by KLF. KLF who are doing the killing have only tried monitoring in troops that they wanted to cull and for that purpose (to make trapping and killing more effective). Chasing baboons was tried in a halfhearted way. They also lied - in the progress report they stated that they had 2 monitoring TEAMS - in Thys de Wet's report, he said they had 2 EMPLOYEES. How can this even begin to produce proper research? All they monitored was WHERE they went - obviously to make trapping easier - not what they were doing ie, how much time spent feeding, moving, stripping etc".




Jan Huyser            - Komatieland Forests (K.L.F)


Nico Olivier          - Komatieland Forests


Thys de Wet          - Komatieland Forests


Dries Pienaar         -Mpumalanga Parks Board


Ivan Muir               - SGS (on behalf of the FSC)


Jeff Dyer                - ADM cc (employed for years by Komatieland to do the killing itself)


Shaun McCarthy    - York Timbers (formerly Global Forest)


Noel Myburgh       - York Timbers (formerly Global Forest)




 - Although York Timbers were represented at the above meeting, they have issued a statement that they are not killing baboons in the present.


 - Komatiland Forests have issued a statement that THEY ARE responsible for killing baboons in the present.

- York Timbers towards the end of 2008 decided to kill baboons as well.

- Sappi are the only company who are using non lethal methods and consumers should be made aware of their policies and only support those timber companies not using lethal methods of control.





  According to the witness accounts, this is happening with the full support of Mpumalanga Parks board.  - Has Mpumalanga Parksboard issued permits for these killings to take place as the law requires?


What does that say about our conservation authorities considering that the motives of these timber companies are based on FINANCIAL GAIN AT THE EXPENSE OF THE ENVIRONMENT/BABOONS/BIO-DIVERSITY.


                      SA Government, conservationists and other bodies concerns on alien invasive plants.


Act 10 of 1998: Mpumalanga Nature Conservation Act, 1998, Section 80. Invader weeds and plants. (1) The plants referred to in Schedule 13 to this Act are declared invader weeds and plants.


(3) Subject to the provisions of this Act, no person shall possess, sell, purchase, donate, or receive as a donation, convey, import, into the Province or cultivate a declared invader weed or plant, unless he or she is the holder of a permit which authorizes him or her to do so.


(4) The owner or occupier of land upon which invader weeds and plants are found and which threaten the natural biodiversity shall take the necessary steps to eradicate or destroy such plants on the land of which he or she is the owner or occupier.


(5) Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with subsection (3) or (4) shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period of not exceeding 4 years or to both a fine and such imprisonment.


SCHEDULE 13. Invader weeds and plants (section 80(1)(a)


Common name


Scientific name


blue gums




All Eucalyptus spp.


(all other pinus spp.)


*These alien invasive plants in forestry dewater our sponge areas. Plantations have to be rehabilitated now, where large areas permits have expired and not renewed. Foresters have to apply for new permits from Dept Forestry to utilise the same areas. Strict monitoring is done when foresters threaten the survival of cycads, fern trees or endangered flora.


Scientific research used to back up the killing, is flawed as it has not been reviewed - is not supported by scientific peer review.


 We would like to see scientific research that has not been paid by the timber companies and is therefore pressurized to support their position for killing indigenous fauna for financial gain.




  - Baboons move in and out of the plantations, therefore are not resident and therefore not 'owned' by foresters and cannot be shot. They are NOT FENCED IN and therefore shooting/poisoning them goes against the law. How has this been overlooked by the conservation authorities?


 - Our N.E.M.B.A (National Environmental Biodiversity Act which supports biodiversity is clearly ignored by the conservation authorities who have supported these killings. Not only are they supporting the deaths of indigenous fauna for financial gain but they also protect the leopard yet have supported the killings of the leopard's prey in this instance. How can this be called "conservation"?


- Research done on the damaged pines refers to "damage causing troops" (those in areas where damage occurs) and "troops that cause no damage" (in areas where no damaged trees are found). Dr Pierre le Roux - believes these baboons are the same while the trees are sick or healthy. He makes a relevant point when saying: Culling 60% of baboons in an area in Zimbabwe (by poisoning ... strychnine) did not produce a notable decrease in damaged trees! We would like to see more scientific data that is not connected to the financial interests of these timber companies.


- The baboons natural territory was destroyed for the Pine Plantations. How can these companies claim to be environmentally aware (as they do on their websites) when there has been no attempt to provide indigenous fauna with an alternative means to survive?


 - KFL - KOMATILAND FORESTS are planting plantations right down to rivers - again this is illegal. Why has it been allowed?


 - The damage done to the timber companies plantations needs to be weighed up with the profits they are making. Only once that is done can the public see to what extent, the damage caused to the pines is being magnified out of proportion to justify the "culling. According to stakeholders there has been no proof of money being saved by the killing.


 - Removing baboon troops from a territory is likely to attract other baboon troops to fill the vacuum that has been made, ensuring that the problem will continue with the timber companies facing damaged pines and blaming and killing the new baboons for what are probably sick trees.


- Workers take food into the plantation and surely are not so litter conscious as not to leave garbage behind. Is this attracting baboons into the damaged areas? - This needs to be looked into more thoroughly.


- Culling is defined as managing numbers of wild populations on game-fenced properties. Plantations are not fenced at all so the term culling must be replaced by KILLING.






 Although those who have worked hands-on for decades with this species declare the Chacma baboon to be at risk in terms of declining numbers and serious damage to troop structures, the  forestry companies involved have justified the killing of baboons by claiming they damage Pine trees.

Those who work hands-on with this species, claim that the baboons are simply removing bark from already diseased trees and their role as messenger in defining which trees are damaged should be noted. Instead they are being killed for this. Whether these baboons are indeed damaging Pine bark or not the fact remains that their natural territory has been stripped from them and replaced with alien plantations that are likely to cause various deficiencies that may lead to self medicating or other utilisation of the alien trees that have replaced their once natural habitat.


Hundreds of indigenous primates - Chacma Baboons - have been killed using a number of barbaric methods by these companies. According to the account of a witness who has asked to remain anonymous, the baboons are poisoned, trapped and shot - infants, pregnant females and youngsters are killed on sight. None are spared.



How is it possible that other pine plantations in SA do not have this particular problem - How can it be possible that only those being targeted in Blyde, happen to be pine damagers?


The following quote from Dr le Roux, seems to back up the fact that baboons do not actually damage pine bark:


 "I visited the Mpumalanga plantations in August in company of Rita.


Vast areas had been burnt out in the fires that raged uncontrolled (no fire plan was put in place by forestry companies);


there were plantations that had no dying trees (these were all first time plantings on virgin land.


Dead trees were here and there but hard to find, when found several trees adjacent to one another were seen. Most were about 50-100m into the stand, some were singed by firebreak burning next to road. 


some were dead without bark stripped


Some trees had usually only one bark stripped area very high up and were quite dead or had a few dead branches


Some stripped areas were healing at the edges and some had a lot of resin drying on and below it


No freshly stripped stands of trees were seen


 Observations :


Baboons sit on the lowermost branches (where trimming stopped) and the bark that is stripped gets chewed but they spit it out.


Hannes Marais provided some branches for Ritas baboons that had been kept without food for 24 hrs, observed over a further 24 hrs: they chewed a few needles or picked at bark, spitting it out.


I tried to strip bark here in Hermanus: impossible by hand, chisel gets a bit loose but can not be "stripped". Bashed it with a mallet and tried again, most that came off were 50-100mm bits. To kill a pine you have to strip all the way around the trunk. The bark appears to have to be loose before baboons can tear long strips off. 




Trees can be stressed by exhausted soil of replanted areas, lack of water, temperatures, too dense planting, parasites such as Sirex, Orthomicus, Hyalurgis, fungi  and ? Foresters say - NO these trees are basically sound. Entomologists say: no bugs found


  My Proposal was;


Send teams in (they use them to thin out areas --- wonder why they have to) to harvest all trees that show stress or damage such as bark stripping by baboons. Examine for possible reasons, trees that are "sick". This wood may be used for poles or pulp to pay for research directed at why trees die, incidentally then also why baboons strip bark. A primatologist will be needed here. Until proven otherwise, leave baboons alone." Dr. Pierre le Roux, Sept, 2007




1. We need stakeholders to sit in on the BDWG meetings and fight for the environment and baboons. If you can do this, please ask the forestry companies when writing to them about this.


 More on their "scientific research":


 It has been admitted that baboons have been killed in Morgenzon  not Blyde Therefore, the research that was done in Blyde River does not apply to the baboons in Morgenzon that KLF have killed. Baboon behaviour and reasons for behaviour on culled troops by K.LF has not been researched adequately.  Some spasmodic samples have been OBSERVED BUT HAVE NOT BEEN RESEARCHED AND ANALYSED with the result being slanted because of choice of samples. This is scientifically flawed.


The success of the control method of of killing troops was expressed in counting dead baboons and not the change in pattern of dead trees. Research into the pattern of dead and sick trees needs more research that is scientifically sound.


We suggest that there is a need go a step further and to view baboon damage solely as an on-going management problem. Doing so will direct


attention to the development and implementation of routine regulatory management practises and dispense with the notion of targeted control


procedures over fixed periods.



We, the undersigned call for an immediate moratium to be placed on the killing of baboons by all timber companies in the Sabie area, specifically Komatiland Forests PTY. and York Timbers who have openly admitted to the killing.

Hundreds of baboons have been killed in the area in the past by what was then Global Forest Products (now bought by York Timbers) and Komatiland Forests PTY. Once this was confronted, a moratorium was placed on the killing of baboons.

Although witness accounts claim these killings have been ongoing, Komatiland Forests have made a statement saying the moratorium was officially lifted in May 2008 after it was agreed at a BDWG meeting where the majority of representatives were plantation owners.

It has been identified that the above timber companies are still killing indigenous South African fauna - baboons - on a mass scale, to preserve alien Pine Plantations for the sole reason of financial gain.  Placing financial gain above the protection of our environment will ensure its destruction.
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