Baboons in space!

All continents and countries are affected by human-wildlife conflict, but in Africa human-wildlife conflict is particularly prevalent. One of the most high-profile human-wildlife conflicts in Africa is the human-baboon conflict in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. In search of high-energy human foods or waste, the baboons raid homes, businesses, cars, and even people themselves.

SHOAL juvenile raidMitigating such conflict demands a multi-disciplinary research approach that includes an understanding of the biology of the baboons and how they use their space.

Members of SHOAL ( in the Department of Biosciences travelled to Cape Town, South Africa, in March of this year to set up the latest instalment of their collaboration with Prof. Justin O'Riain at The University of Cape Town researching baboon behaviour. 

The team, led by 1st year PhD student Gaëlle Fehlmann, has fitted 8 male baboons (who are the worst raiders) with bespoke data-logging collars that provide high resolution GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer data. The collars were designed and built in collaboration with scientists at UCL.

SHOAL Catherine KerrCombining the information from collars with direct observations of baboons with good old pen and paper, the researchers aim to determine not only how the baboons use their space (where they go, what they do) but also estimate how much energy they expend.

Gaëlle will return to Swansea in August, when she hopes to generate predictive models concerning the mechanisms underlying the human-baboon conflict, and then use these models to develop proactive mitigation methods. The research team believe their approach can become a benchmark for the successful management and conservation of primates in conflict with humans.


  1. Juvenile baboon in Cape Town with some contraband. (Image by Gaëlle Fehlmann)
  2. SHOALgroup Research Assistant Catherine Kerr observing baboons sitting at the edge of a vineyard in Cape Town, South Africa. (Image by Gaëlle Fehlmann)