Madonna was part of the wild baboon troop who visit us regularly. I met her a few years ago for the first time, but back then, she was hard to observe as she hid away deep in the forest and was clearly fearful of strangers. Over time, she realised I was no threat and began to show herself. Her hip area translated into a mass of scars, causing her to walk in a jagged, obstructed manner. But she had many allies, hung out with a group of caring females and juveniles and certainly seemed to have adapted to her injuries.
She arrived here one day after being attacked by a male baboon, her wounds seeping from the very place where her old scars lived. As always when faced with a wild injured primate, I asked myself whether it is feasible to intervene or whether “nature” should take its course. The dilemma with the “let nature take its course” concept, meaning that we should leave well alone no matter how much suffering may occur, is that rarely do we define what “nature” has become to those of us who live alongside it.
The abyss between our human selves and the wild we have been forcefully separated from has become impossible to bridge and yet intrinsically we remain interconnected and symbiotic.
The DPG acts as a sanctuary – a haven for both the wild primates brought here as well as the wild animals that visit. We are surrounded by farmers and residents who threaten to shoot any so-called “problem animal” that crosses their property. We also have resident poachers on the property who set traps allowing any wild victim to die a slow, tortuous death, driving us to do regular anti-poaching patrols. And yet this agriculturally zoned area, whereby wild animals wander at great risk, borders a protected reserve without fences to keep the wildlife away.
The impression I have been shown over the years is that in spite of the predators here (raptors, leopard, honey badger, caracal etc.), far more wildlife falls prey to human intervention. Primates are electrocuted, run over by cars, caught in poacher’s traps, poisoned, shot with pellet guns and bullets.
The message given by local landowners is that no matter how irrational, and environmentally destructive it is, they prefer to shoot rather than look at non-lethal methods of deterring wildlife.
Shooting one baboon ensures another may move in.
Shooting a troop leaves a vacuum for a new troop to move in.
Centuries of shooting baboons has repeatedly proved that shooting does not offer any remote solution to the raiding problem.
But still, it continues, illustrating very effectively that humans are often not the rational species they like to think they are…
As a result, populations are damaged by humans, habitats are destroyed and biodiversity is a dream that seems impossible……
How do we define “nature” when we have remodelled it to such an extent it is no longer recognisable?
Madonna leaving after being treated at the DPG for her wounds:
And this is why, when I come across a case like Madonna – pictured above – I am unable to stand back, and ignore our human connection to the rest of nature, and” let nature take its course”.