Farm animals left to starve
The SPCA's Farm Animal Protection Unit has responded to multiple reports of starving cattle. Two of the cases involve government projects.
The National SPCA said in a statement that these cases were disturbing.
"It is a known fact that grazing is unavailable during Winter and we urge farmers/owners to ensure that all animals are supplied with adequate supplementary nutrition during this period to avoid any suffering by the animals."
CASE 1: Muti Wa Varonga Open Air Museum
This museum is situated in the Hans Merenski Nature Reserve between Phalaborwa and Tzaneen and had 38 starving cattle as witnessed by a tourist.
An NSPCA Inspector from the Society Liaison Unit was dispatched to assess the situation on Tuesday 28 August 2012 and reported that the cattle were “emaciated”. One cow had to be put out of its misery as directed by a Veterinarian.
A warning in terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962 was issued to the owners (Dept of Sport, Recreation and Arts) to supply fodder immediately.
However, upon Inspector De Bruyn’s return the following morning, the situation had not improved. A warrant in terms of the Animals Protection Act was obtained to seize the remaining 38 cattle on Thursday 30 August 2012 as the Veterinarian’s report indicated that the condition of the cattle was due to starvation.
The Museum had obtained some feed but an insufficient amount. Three more animals were identified to be in the process of fading from life and the decision was then taken to also put these three cattle out of their misery.
A Final Warning was left to ensure that the cattle would be fed proper diets and adequate amounts of food.
Copies of these documents were served on the MEC’s Office who is responsible for this Museum, in Polokwane on the morning of Friday 31 August 2012.
The Phalaborwa SPCA undertook to follow-up on a daily basis until Monday 03 September 2012 to ensure that the fodder ordered is sufficient and is given to the cattle. By Friday 31 August 2012 it was confirmed that sufficient feed had been ordered and the cattle appeared to be in a more alert state. Only one cow was observed grazing in the fields. The rest were still weak.
By the end of the weekend, it was reported by the Inspectors monitoring the feeding of the cattle that sufficient feed had been placed out and wildlife was observed feeding with the cattle.
Criminal charges in terms of the Animals Protection Act may be laid.
CASE 2: Athole Experimental Farm – Mpumalanga
The South African Police Service Stock Theft Unit, Ermelo, contacted the NSPCA on Wednesday 29 August 2012 to advise that they had received a complaint about starving and dying cattle on the Amsterdam Road, between Ermelo and Amsterdam. Their report gave graphic evidence of dead and dying cattle on the farm.
This farm belongs to the Municipality. Animals were not provided with supplementary feeding.
The National Council of SPCAs made funds available and requested the Highveld Ridge SPCA to attend. The NSPCA’s Farm Animal Protection Unit made contact with the Amsterdam Magistrate motivating a request to issue another warrant to seize the animals. The outcome is pending.
A meeting with all the senior staff responsible for the operation of the farm was held on Saturday 01 September 2012 where Inspector Geel served the warrant and informed the management that if ongoing correct supplementary feeding was not provided, action in terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962 would be taken. The management had at that time provided sufficient supplementary feeding and improvements were observed in the cattle’s behaviour. The farm management undertook to ensure sufficient feed supplements are being provided with the guidance of a veterinarian.
CASE 3: Rietfontein Farm – Westonaria / Modderfontein
On 31 August 2012, the Farm Animal Protection Unit responded to a request by the Westonaria SPCA to attend to a privately owned farm where 200 head of cattle were reported to be very thin. Senior Inspector Grace De Lange assessed the situation and the owner was issued with a warning to supply fodder to the animals and to obtain more feed. It was confirmed that sufficient quantity of supplement feed was delivered to this farm.
Whilst she was in the area, Senior Inspector de Lange was asked by Westonaria SPCA to attend to another farm where she discovered a very weak calf lying in muddy water.
The calf had been in that position for an estimated two weeks. Its mouth was caked with mud from trying to survive on the water it was lying in.
This calf had to be humanely destroyed.
Westonaria SPCA have been given guidance on pursuing with animal cruelty charges, even though the owner is in Zimbabwe.
CASE 4: Villiers
Also on 31 August 2012, the National Farm Animal Protection Unit was alerted to some 396 cattle on a rented farm where no supplementary feeding had been provided. 236 cattle were removed by the owners themselves and taken to another farm where there was sufficient food. However it has been reported that there are a further 60 cattle in a state of severe starvation and urgent assistance has been requested.
The SAPS responded and confirmed that they were taking a veterinarian to the farm for an initial assessment to be undertaken.
A team comprising of National Council of SPCAs Farm Animal Protection Unit Inspectors went to the farm on Saturday 01 September 2012 and found that the veterinarian had been aware of the situation for at least four months and who claimed he was treating the cattle.
It was established that 18 cattle had died of starvation during the Winter.
A warning was issued to both the owner and the veterinarian that the situation was unacceptable and that more care and sufficient farm practice management systems should be put in place.
The SPCA requested reports from both the owner and the veterinarian, via the SAPS, to ascertain full details/facts to enable a decision to be taken whether criminal charges of animal cruelty should be pursued against the relevant parties.