Baboons on the run from Jan Gun

While forest owners and land managers in Mpumalanga area that are experiencing on-going problems from resident baboon troops that are chewing the bark of their pine and now even Eucalyptus trees causing millions of rands worth of damage, a possible solution is at hand in the form of an angry farmer named Jan Gun.

Jan can stand vigil in your orchard, vineyard or plantation day and night, through sun, rain, hail and snow indefinitely, for as long as you want him there. Like any angry farmer he shouts and swears and bangs off a few rounds with his trusty rifle, scaring off any baboon looking for a tree to chew.

OK, here’s the rub! Jan Gun is a life-size automated moving scarecrow made from fibreglass with powerful built-in speakers and an amplifier that magnifies his shouting and shooting. With a very angry expression on his face and jerky movements he looks just like an angry real life farmer with a gun. When he shouts and shoots, the baboons run for cover.

The brainchild of Western Cape farmer Ernst van Zyl, Jan Gun is being used with considerable success by farmers around the country to keep baboons and other predators like jackal off their farms and out of their vineyards, vegetable gardens and orchards.

Jan makes a fast turning motion that can be adjusted to five or 10 minute intervals. The volume of his shouting, cursing and shooting is also adjustable, and can be heard several kilometres away at full volume. He can also be equipped with a powerful hunting light if he is used to chase away predators or potential livestock thieves at night.

Jan Gun and all his accessories are protected from theft by movement sensors, and he can easily be moved to different locations around the farm or plantation to keep the baboons guessing.

Some farmers have several Jan Guns in their orchards, and they report a dramatic reduction in baboon damage to their crops.

Would Jan Gun be effective in a plantation environment where there is a lot of tree cover? It’s hard to say, but it’s worth a try.

“I know of farmers with big orchards that are using Jan successfully, so I am sure it will work in an area where Jan is visible among and under the trees and also audible,” commented Ernst. “One Jan should be enough for up to 100 hectares. The idea is to place Jan where the baboons come from, and where they cause the most damage.

“It would be impossible to protect every corner of a plantation, but at least you could reduce the damage by protecting specific, vulnerable areas.

“The test so many farmers have done is, you go and stand there with a rifle, you turn around, you look around, you speak, sometimes you shout, sometimes you shoot. If you do this and the baboons stay away from the area where you are, then you know that Jan will have exactly the same effect, immediately and long term,” said Ernst.

Ernst van Zyl; Mobile: 082 450 6988