The Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education (C.A.R.E) is a rescue, rehabilitation, and release center for orphaned Chacma baboons. The center is situated in the Grietjie Nature Reserve on the Olifants River near Phalaborwa, South Africa and is home to approximately 475 baboons. C.A.R.E. receives no funding and relies solely on donations. C.A.R.E. is dedicated to the mission of rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned Chacma baboons and creating healthy and cohesive troops that can be released back into the wild. The wild birthright of these orphans was taken from them when their mothers were poisoned, trapped, hunted, hit by cars, or killed to keep the babies as pets. C.A.R.E. is fighting to maintain survival of this species in the face of dwindling population numbers and conservation efforts to maintain planetary biodiversity against exploding human encroachment.
In July of 2012 a tragic fire took the life of C.A.R.E.’s founder “baboon mother” Rita Miljo and three special baboons Foot, Bobby, and Sexy. Since this tragic loss C.A.R.E. has pushed to overcome many hurdles to keep Rita’s vision and legacy alive. With the helping hands of volunteers from all over the world the centre is working toward rebuilding and is in a time of progressive re-growth. Because of the social complexity of baboons their rehabilitation is long and difficult. These orphans will live in captivity for anywhere from six to eight years before carefully and responsibly being released onto sustainable and wildlife friendly land. Every day the current babies are brought outside of their nursery enclosure to the river where they can interact together in nature; climbing trees, digging in the sand, foraging, and being wild under the careful supervision of staff and volunteers. Learning these skills is an essential part of their rehabilitation. These outside nursery shifts are only possible for the babies ages 12 months and under. Once they reach approximately 12 months they are weaned full time to their enclosure where they begin the second phase of rehabilitation. Phase II is hands off with minimal human interaction, this dehumanizing phase is essential to their ultimate success as a wild troop once released. The orphans from this stage on (lasting several years) are completely limited to the confines of their enclosure.
Last year with donated funding C.A.R.E. built its first semi-wild enclosure. The concept of the semi-wild enclosures is to provide an all-natural habitat surrounded by an electric fence. These enclosures are plots of land on the C.A.R.E. property that have indigenous vegetation providing the baboons with a “semi-wild” life during their many years of captivity while in rehabilitation for eventual release. The natural setting of these enclosures not only provides the baboons with a substantially increased amount of space but the land itself is self-sustaining providing the baboons with opportunities to elicit natural behaviors such as foraging. In the wild foraging would consume a substantial amount of their time. The opportunity to exercise natural behaviors can decrease potential aggression and stereotypical behaviors that can result from boredom and confined space. The current enclosures are completely meshed in and are not able to provide natural vegetation. Additionally, with the current enclosure designs many males are housed in single stalls attached to their troop’s enclosure. This is due to the unfortunate fact that it’s difficult to safely house multiple males in a confined space without acts of aggression, even with the current use of hormonal implants.
Since the introduction of the first semi-wild enclosure it has been observed that not only does the enclosure design provide daily benefits for the baboon’s quality of life but also benefits the baboons long term. The enclosure design provides necessary learning opportunities, stimulation, and elicits natural behaviors that aid the rehabilitation process. These opportunities decrease the amount of time it takes for rehabilitation while also making integration more successful and less stressful for the troop members. With seeing how beneficial semi-wild enclosures can be to the development and rehabilitation of the centre’s baboons, C.A.R.E. is aiming to move in the direction of building semi-wild enclosures to aid rehabilitation and maximize quality of life. Currently due to financial constraints C.A.R.E. utilizes pre-existing enclosures.
FORTUNATELY THE COST OF A SEMI-WILD ENCLOSURE IS COMPARABLE TO THE COST OF RENNOVATING/BUILDING THE CURRENT ENCLOSURE DESIGN!!!
Meet Simon’s Troop…
The Simon’s troop is where the current orphan babies are being integrated. The troop consists of five adult males, two adult females and fourteen babies and kids (5 boys and 9 girls). The enclosure is separated into two sides where the adult males are separate from the adult females and kids. Unfortunately, the enclosure size is limiting the option for integrating the males and has also contributed to difficulties with troop dynamics and baby integration. The kids and babies in this troop range from ages twenty four to seven months and are still growing. As the kids grow, the obstacles resulting from lack of space will increase. Simon’s troop are currently the youngest, meaning they are not up for release for some time and have many years of captivity ahead of them. Please help us to give the Simon’s troop a semi-wild enclosure where they can experience a more natural, safer, and stimulating rehabilitation.
For larger donations or for donations needing tax deductible papers please donate via IPPL:
IMPORTANT!! If going through IPPL, please write: C.A.R.E. Simon’s Semi Wild Enclosure, in the “I want my donation to be dedicated to” section.
1st picture: Rennovated current enclosure design
2nd picture: New Semi-wild enclosure, winter foliage
3rd picture: Some of the Simon's kids
Written by: Edythe Guice
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