Animals: new norms announced

2013-07-09 00:00

EZEMVELO KZN Wildlife yesterday announced the new norms and conditions for captive animals, but could face further court action if the Animal Interest Alliance (AIA) believe they are acting outside of their statutory mandate.

The norms and conditions will be an important factor when the organisation issues permits for captive animals. For the past few years, their ­development has been stalled by other factors including litigation by the Animal Interest Alliance.

Musa Mntambo, spokesperson for Ezemvelo, said these were “the first set of enforceable standards ever devised in South Africa for wild animals in captivity and assure humane conditions are prescribed”.

He said the standard terms and conditions require owners of captive wild animals to abide by national and internationally accepted civilised standards.

The conditions will include providing clean drinking water at all times, appropriate and sufficient food, no physical punishment and no solitary confinement for social species.

Also, it will specify the minimum size and design of enclosures, providing minimum furnishings for animals’ behavioural needs and the prevention of over-crowding.

Dr Jean Harris, head of Ezemvelo’s Scientific Services, said the norms and standards have been a long time coming.

“It’s high time that conservation agencies demonstrate commitment to instilling ethics and compassion into the treatment of wild animals in captivity. The new conditions attached to these permits embody progressive conditions of animal husbandry,” said Harris.

Dr Bandile Mkhize, Ezemvelo’s CEO, said his organisation had done everything possible over the years to address their own and South African citizens’ long-standing concerns about examples of abuse and cruelty of wild animals in captivity.

Jeremy Ridl, an environmental law specialist representing the AIA, said some members of the AIA “view this latest action by Ezemvelo as a revival of its futile attempt at the end of 2010 to ‘legislate through the back door’ through a similar process”.

“The legality of what Ezemvelo proposes is doubtful … On the face of it, the proposed standard terms and conditions include provisions that exceed the powers conferred upon Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife by the ordinance.”

He said if Ezemvelo is acting outside of its statutory mandate, its actions will be challenged in court.

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