Ban the ‘bang’, protect animals

2016-10-25 06:00
 Photo: Kalisha NAicker Miles Steenhuisen, who started the Fireworks Must Fall campaign, with his four-legged friends.

Photo: Kalisha NAicker Miles Steenhuisen, who started the Fireworks Must Fall campaign, with his four-legged friends.

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“THEY say you can tell a lot about someone by the way they treat animals,” says Hillcrest dad Miles Steenhuisen, who has dedicated a great part of his life to protecting the animals in his community.

According to Steenhuisen, if one is a pet owner then they have no doubt seen how distressed animals can get during festival times as fireworks bang and flash across the sky.

“Not only all kinds of wild and domestic animals, also children, the elderly and those of a nervous disposition can be seriously affected by modern, excessive fireworks.

“Communities are increasingly conscious of the unsociable behaviour caused by irresponsible neighbours, youth and even adults who set of fireworks without any consideration for their local environment or other residents in their community whether human or animal,” he said.

He said that as fireworks get noisier, sound levels are reaching decibels that can not only damage human hearing but also frighten animals and birds literally to death.
“If the noise doesn't kill them then birds and mammals in your neighbourhood can easily become disorientated and suffer in other ways.”

With the assistance of friends Steenhuisen set the ball in motion for the ‘Fireworks Must Fall’ campaign and quickly rallied support from animal rights organisations local and national, Fireworks Banning initiative and Hindus Against Fireworks and started a nationwide coalition called the Anti-Fireworks Alliance.

He said the alliance aims to raise awareness about the dangers of fireworks, which extend beyond pets to other wildlife and people too. They also plan to engage with municipalities to revise by-laws, where these are inadequate, and with Metro Police, ensure by-laws are policed properly.

He said in no way does this campaign target a particular religious celebration, however, it is looking out for the well-being of the community.
“We have marked days such as Diwali, Guy Fawks and New Year as when the use of fireworks become excessive and we want to create awareness.

“People need to realise that the celebration of lights does not mean a celebration of loud bangs. We need to be considerate of our environment.”

Steenhuisen reminded communities who want to set off fireworks that there are by-laws, which have been passed, and there is fining or imprisoning of people who cause public disturbances. Offenders should be aware of this before setting off a firework.
“All loud bangs are banned and fireworks need to be used in accordance of the law. The small colourful displays are fine.
“Loud bangs cause unnecessary chaos and are of no enrichment to a community.”
Offenders can be reported to the Metro Police or Outer West.

Steenhuisen urged people with the same passion as him to join the Fireworks Must Fall Campaign on Facebook and sign the petition.

Email fireworksmustfall kzn@gmail.com for the petition or for more information.

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