Kataza. Photo: Facebook.

The now famous chacma baboon Kataza, who made headlines after he was controversially removed from his troupe in Kommetjie, Cape Town, is to be returned home after the city was taken to court by a concerned citizen, Ryno Engelbrecht.

The relocation of the male baboon in late August caused a huge outcry and locals started a campaign, “Bring back Kataza,” after the city said it had removed him from his Slangkop troop to Tokai because he was “compromising the welfare of the [Slangkop] troop” by leading raids into town.

However, in a radio interview ecologist Justin O’Riain said, “Effectively what Kataza was doing was he was leading a splinter group – a small group of individuals, typically comprised of low-ranking females, and he was going off with them and sleeping separately from the troop.” This split the troop, and made it costlier for the city to patrol, he said.

In late October, Baboon Matters said on Facebook, “Kataza (which means “troublesome” in isiXhosa) was spotted heading towards Ou Kaapse Weg this evening – thankfully the volunteer team of angels were able to support the NCC team and together got Kataza through busy traffic at difficult points on this mountain pass. We all hope that the decision makers resolve this urgent issue as soon as possible.”

Resident Ryno Engelbrecht, who has kept an ongoing log on Facebook about Kataza’s plight, lodged an application against the city to return Kataza to Kommetjie.

“Please all, lets be clear about the Kataza Action,” he said in October. “I am doing this for Kataza. I am answering messages and comments for Kataza. I am paying towards legal costs and banners and buffs for Kataza. I am not doing this and putting myself through this as a PR campaign, nor a ‘thank you.’ I am an Insolvency Practitioner by trade and believe it or not, I have put that aside for Kataza.”

The city at first said it would oppose the application. But today it did an about-face, saying Kataza would be returned to Slangkop “as soon as practically possible.” The city asked that residents not follow Kataza after he had been released.

“CapeNature and an independent animal welfare organisation will be requested to monitor his capture and release

“In the interest of the baboon troop and public safety, no members of the public will be allowed to be present, or in the vicinity of the area, when the capturing is taking place.

“Once he has been captured, all forms of artificial identification will be removed.

“If needed, veterinary attention will be provided before he is released

Upon his release, Kataza’s previous raiding record will not be considered in future decisions. This is in an effort to give him a fair chance to adjust to his natal home range, namely the surrounding mountains in the Kommetjie area.

UPDATE 7 JAN 2021: Kataza has sadly not integrated back with his troop.