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There’s a New Rebel in Town

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on September 13, 2020 17:52

2 users

Move over, James Dean. Ché Guevara, make space. Terminator, stand aside. Kataza is the new man, and even when you run him out of town he’s going to come back. Black clad troops, imprisonment without being read his right, no problem, he will be back.

He came swaggering out of the hills, and in taking his seat in the garden of the upmarket Jonkershuis Constantia restaurant, Kataza tucked into the delicious meal someone left for him. But all too soon the stormtroopers arrived — black-clad and masked men wielding paintball guns. Kataza took to the bushes and disappeared.

He has a Facebook page - Bring Back Kataza. Facebook.com

For days the population and his many loyal supporters waited for news, and the worst fears came out. Kataza was being held incommunicado in a notorious center owned by the local authorities and was denied access to representatives and medical specialists. Now court orders are being sought to ascertain Kataza’s wellbeing.

Kataza is the archetype rebel: a young male, also known as SK11 to his guards, he has challenged the hierarchy of his group, and with a few females, had struck out to set up his own little empire. At least, that is one story. A young male baboon (Papio Ursinus) like a human, goes through a womanizing stage, before challenging the senior male in the troop. Kataza’s home troop, near Slangkop above Kommetjie in the Cape Peninsula, live a reasonably happy life in a nature reserve, living off the land, occasionally raiding residential areas, and often scaring unwary tourists.

Baboon family at the Cape of Good Hope. Photo Harald Süpfle, Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 2.5

The City of Cape Town has a world-renowned program of controlling the interaction between baboons and humans, using specially-trained rangers, sometimes using paintball guns and flashbangs to keep baboons away from humans. Only in extreme cases where baboons become ‘repeat criminals’ and threaten human safety are they euthanized. 

Kataza’s ‘secession’ raised concern, and environmentalists feared that a second troop in the same area would lead to resources being overused. A decision was taken to dart him, or ‘kidnap” him, as some claimed, and relocating him with a new troop in the Tokai area, also known for its wine farms. The expectation was that Kataza would adapt to the new environment with abundant food and a number of females. However, he missed his harem of soul mates and tried to go back home. Baboon activist Jenni Trethowan tried to ‘whisper’ him back but was stopped by City officials.

Baboons can be dangerous. Intelligent animals, they can open houses, and careless humans who leave food around ‘teach’ them to frequent residential areas. If cornered, they can fight back, having teeth that can rival a leopard and four strong ‘hands’ with which to grab and harm a guard dog. They are not known for personal hygiene and often carry diseases.

Male baboon. Photo Charles J Sharp Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0

All this not to detract from the latest ‘guerilla icon’, who no doubt deserves wider fame. He is now being held in a veterinarian facility. Who knows what will become of him? Where are the t-shirt printers?

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on September 13, 2020 17:52

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Source: Live Science

A 2-million-year-old skull unearthed in South Africa belongs to the earliest baboon ever found, a new study finds.

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