Africa has a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and there is continual growth in interest in the Republic as a destination for eco-tourism and sports hunting (including green hunting and canned hunting), as well as being a source of wild animals for zoos, circuses, game ranches, private collections.
The entertainment industry generally, generates welfare problems for the animals.
The Wildlife Unit has been in operation since 1996 and has gained national recognition for its expertise, research and soundly balanced approach to the welfare of wildlife, often being called upon to assist in the resolution of technical and practical problems.
The NSPCA opposes sports hunting (green, canned or otherwise), which is simply a cruel manifestation of bloodlust; indiscriminate culling; the use of animals in circuses, exhibitions and entertainment; and zoos that are only in existence to exhibit animals and not to contribute to providing a safety net for rare and endangered species.
Johannesburg International Airport is the main entry and exit point for animals being imported and exported by air to South Africa. The Unit inspects the condition of thousands of animals ranging from tiny reptiles to birds and large mammals, as well as domestic animals.
DESTRUCTION OF ALIEN SPECIES
Currently, Nature Conservation is in the process of eliminating alien flora and fauna from publicly owned land. To this end they have shot and killed off the Himalayan Tahr population on Table Mountain in terms of the Biodiversity Convention that allows for the elimination of species that pose a threat to indigenous animals and environment. Also at risk are the Sambar and Fallow Deer and the NSPCA will endeavour to prevent these animals from meeting the same fate as the Tahrs.
Saving elephants and rhino has been a South African success story. However, in the case of the elephants, the success has led to an over-population of the huge herbivores, which cause environmental damage when foraging.
There is a tendency for conservation officials to cull the adults of a herd and sell the sub-adults to animal traders around the world. This practice leads to elephants being placed in situations where they suffer because they are inappropriately and cruelly housed and handled.
A relatively new concept to South Africa is the introduction of elephant-back safaris. This also has serious ramifications for the welfare of these gentle animals.
There is a trend towards encouraging interaction between people and captive predator cubs (for a fee naturally). This does not bode well for the animals, because they reach an age and size where they can no longer be trusted with people. This makes them ideal fodder for green hunting and canned hunting which take place in enclosed bomas or areas, because they are acclimatised to the presence of people and are easy to find and shoot.
In other words, by supporting animal centres that encourage interaction between people and predators, non-violent people could ultimately be supporting sports hunting.
WELFARE STANDARDS FOR WILD ANIMALS
The Unit provides input regularly with regards to various Codes of Practice to eliminate or minimise suffering with regards to game capture, handling, transport and holding. In most instances, the Unit has initiated the process for necessary codes and negotiates their introduction and implementation with key role players such as the Departments of Nature Conservation (all Provinces), Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism, Department of Agriculture, State Veterinary Services, South African Bureau of Standards as well as other stakeholders.
Codes of Practice (which take 2 to 4 years to develop and implement) currently in existence are:
� Translocation of Certain Species of Wild Herbivores;
� Holding Pens for Wild Herbivores;
� Welfare of Wild Animals Transported by Sea.
The NSPCA is consistent in its concern for all animals, believing in the protection of animals and of each individual animal regardless of the conservation status of the species. Animals from endangered and non-endangered species deserve protection.
The NSPCA does not use any issue for emotional fund raising. We do not believe it is ethical to base a campaign with the aim of raising funds or publicity for publicity's own sake on a current matter that is making headlines because of a conservation debate or because the animals involved are "high public profile" - such as rhino or elephant.
We are there for the little guys too. "Culling" is a term not only applicable to elephants. Our attitude, approach, concerns and actions were as consistent when springbok were being culled as they were whenever the issue of culling any other species arose.
Indigenous wildlife includes birds, frogs, butterflies and insects. We take the same consistent approach and monitor any issues that may affect their welfare and we are not afraid to step in if there is exploitation, cruelty or suffering.
Together, we can make a difference.
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF SPCAs
PO Box 1320, ALBERTON 1450
Telephone: (011) 907-3590
Fax: (011) 907-4013