Pigeon racing not banned - dept

2014-10-23 18:00
(File: AFP)

(File: AFP)

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Johannesburg - Pigeon racing has not been banned, the environmental affairs department clarified on Thursday.

This followed a statement from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) on Wednesday that the breeding, trading and racing of pigeons was now illegal.

"The feral pigeon is invasive and its inclusion on the list of invasive species is deemed appropriate by the department. The pigeon which is commonly used in pigeon racing is the same listed species," the department said in a statement.

This was in terms of the Alien and Invasive Species Regulations, 2014, in the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act.

The department met specialists, and reached an agreement that pigeon racing would not have a significant impact on the feral pigeon invasion.

"The numbers are reasonably low in relation to the existing invasions, that it is possible to provide exemption for the racing pigeon activities," the department said.

"These will be discussed with the relevant associations."

The exemption and agreement arose from engagements with industry associations, the department said.

The department had held talks with the NSPCA, which had raised concerns about possible cruelty relating to pigeon racing.

On Wednesday, the NSPCA said the breeding, trading and racing of pigeons had become illegal.

"Activities including the importing, breeding, trading in and translocation of pigeons are now listed as prohibited activities in terms of the Invasive and Alien Species List as published by the department of water and environmental affairs," the NSPCA said in a statement.

The prohibition included "releasing of any specimen of a listed invasive species" which effectively meant that "releasing pigeons to race or as homing pigeons" was illegal.

New legislation

The NSPCA said the new legislation was published in the Government Gazette on 1 August.

"Our concerns include the rate of attrition during races. That is, the high number of pigeons who simply do not ever reach their race destination for various reasons including exhaustion, and racing taking place in inclement or extreme weather conditions."

Interested parties had been informed about the new legislation and the NSPCA was obligated to report any violations to the department, it said.

President of the SA National Pigeon Organisation (Sanpo), Faunty Gillmer had said they were seeking a meeting with the environmental affairs minister.

He said the new law, which had been in the pipeline since 2004, would do away with the 100-year-old sport of pigeon racing.

"Pigeon racing is a professional sport and has in recent times become an expensive sport... we are members of the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee," Gillmer said.

According to its website, Sanpo organises and promotes pigeon racing and the showing of pigeons. It has 5 000 members.

Gillmer said his organisation had written to the deputy environment minister and was awaiting a reply. Sanpo would approach the courts should the meeting with the minister not yield any favourable results, Gillmer said.

Read more on:    nspca  |  animals

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