Odenaalsrus faces spike in rabbit population

2015-06-29 19:42

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Johannesburg - Odendaalsrus risks seeing a spike in its rabbit population after the owners of an informal rabbit farming operation facing legal action began giving them away to residents, the NSPCA said on Monday.

“An additional concern has arisen as uncontrolled breeding and a possible overpopulation of rabbits is now likely to take place in the area,” senior NSPCA Inspector Grace de Lange said in a statement.

Inspectors had warned the owners of the rabbit breeding and slaughtering operation to take them to a vet.

Between 450 and 500 rabbits were kept in overcrowded, small, wire hutches in the garage of a residential property. Some hutches contained 8 rabbits. Rabbits that had given birth were with both dead and living offspring.

They were slaughtered in the kitchen and either donated to churches or sold to the MJ Fish Market and Food Lovers Market in Welkom. The two stores confirmed to inspectors that they sold the rabbit meat.

“The owners were evasive, hostile and reluctant to co-operate. Warnings in terms of the Animals Protection Act were issued to improve the living conditions of the rabbits immediately or face prosecution.”

The NSPCA had to obtain two warrants to gain access to the property.

Most rabbits had bleeding feet and sores on the soles of their feet, no room to move freely, no bedding, and poor quality food.

“There were no records of the number of rabbits kept and no veterinary records were available.” 

When inspectors returned to the property last Thursday, they discovered that all the rabbits, except for one, had been handed to poor locals or whoever was willing to take them.

“Some of the rabbits were found running as strays in the local township. The community confirmed that a woman had stood at the corner and demanded that all people passing by take rabbits from her for free, as many as they wanted.”

Inspectors were looking for them and residents had been encouraged to hand them back.

“Many rabbits have already been handed to the SPCA and some community members agree that they are not able to care for the rabbits that were forced onto them.”

The owners now face criminal charges for concealing the rabbits.

Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  animals

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