EZEMVELO KZN Wildlife’s (EKZNW) board has approved and adopted a new set of guidelines that people and businesses keeping — or intending to keep — wild animals in captivity must now consider. These came into operation yesterday. Following a six-year-long public consultation process, head of Ezemvelo’s Scientific Services Dr Jean Harris said the real sense of accomplishment came from the vast majority of vested interests in KZN who helped compile these conditions. “We encouraged an interactive process where people involved in the various categories of the captive wild animal industry could contribute to our framing these more humane terms and conditions. Not only have they willingly engaged in this process, but in a number of cases actually contributed towards the writing of these conditions,” she said. Following the board’s approval, the new standards apply to such considerations as the size of enclosures, the physical treatment of wild animals and their use for commercial gain. “As they embrace a collective psychology of compassion, we are confident that this more progressive sense of animal husbandry will filter through to other conservation agencies in South Africa.” EKZNW CEO Dr Bandile Mkhize was adamant that 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 in KZN. “It’s a travesty that many animals had to continue to suffer in appalling conditions for over six years while we resisted efforts of a few to halt the drafting process. But that is behind us now.” Dr Harris said the absence of such standards in SA was in stark contrast to countries such as the UK, Australia and EU countries. “Except in the case of falconry, the captive animal ‘industry’ in our country has not developed standards or created systems where self-regulation is effective. This is especially problematic when the keeping of animals is commercially motivated”. Over the years, Ezemvelo has repeatedly discovered many circumstances where animals’ basic needs were not catered for. “That is why these conditions now speak to elementary considerations such as providing clean drinking water at all times, supplying appropriate and sufficient food, not subjecting animals to physical abuse [such as beating or chaining] or solitary confinement of social species. They also specify the minimum size and design of enclosures and the minimum furnishings for animals’ behavioural needs as well as preventing over-crowding.” The new ‘Terms and Conditions’ have been posted on the Ezemvelo website (www.kznwildlife.com). It allows existing permit or licence holders reasonable time for them to upgrade their facilities in order to comply with the new terms.