‘Animals are suffering’

2019-10-14 16:10
The newly-formed Friends of Bisley Nature Reserve met outside the reserve on Friday evening. PHOTO: moeketsi mamane

The newly-formed Friends of Bisley Nature Reserve met outside the reserve on Friday evening. PHOTO: moeketsi mamane

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The SPCA is considering laying criminal charges against the Msunduzi Municipality for allegedly failing to heed a notice to urgently provide feed for starving animals at the Bisley Nature Reserve.

Msunduzi has been accused of violating the Animals Protection Act for unnecessarily starving animals.

The charge could see everyone from the reserve’s guards all the way up to City management implicated.

Meanwhile, nature activists, specialist vets and other concerned citizens have come together to form the Friends of Bisley Nature Reserve to ensure proper food and security is provided to the remaining animals.

Last week, The Witness reported that the SPCA made the grisly discovery of 12 animal carcasses at the reserve, which were said to have died from either starvation or poaching.

Msunduzi, while at the time conceding that poaching may have taken place, maintained many of the animals died of “natural causes”.

This explanation was heavily criticised by Friends of Bisley Nature Reserve, who met and conducted a “walkabout” in the reserve on Friday evening to formulate an urgent workable intervention strategy.

Roland Fivaz, a senior inspector at the SPCA, told The Witness that he had served Msunduzi with a notice ordering the municipality to provide feed for animals in the reserve last Wednesday. “The notice gave them 48 hours to provide feed, but that didn’t happen,” he said.

Fivaz said wildebeest and impala have been “suffering the worst”, and said the numbers of these animals in the large 253 hectare reserve have seriously dwindled in the last few years.

He said there were only about three zebras at the reserve. Fivaz said Bisley was “overstocked” with about 53 giraffes, and said the ecosystem is unbalanced since predators which once existed — including jackals — were no longer there. There are also serious safety concerns at the reserve.

During the walkabout several snares, marked with blue twine, were discovered. “In the last month, I got two calls of giraffes escaping [from Bisley]. There’s nothing to stop animals from getting out.”

There are no longer fences around most of the reserve.

Fivaz also recovered a makeshift spear, apparently left behind by poachers, during the walkabout.

Peter West, a member of Friends of Bisley Nature Reserve, said their immediate concern was providing sufficient feed for the animals, and clearing the reserve of snares.

He explained: “If we had to go through official channels, we may encounter red tape. So by banding together like this maybe we will encourage the public to join us and we can get some action.”

He said they have enlisted a specialist vet who will recommend the type of feed required to meet the particular needs of the wildlife and take a closer look at what caused the deaths of the animals whose carcasses were found.

“The situation is unfortunate, and it hasn’t happened overnight. This place has been sliding down for years, and finding the dead animals has been a wake-up call for everyone. There has been an outcry.”

West and Fivaz said there has been a positive response from the public and some businesses and many had already pledged money and feed.

Before donating, members of the public are advised to contact the SPCA on 033 386 9267 to find out how best to help.

Friends of Bisley Nature Reserve will conduct an operation next Sunday to clear snares from the reserve. Anyone interested in helping should meet at the main entrance at 8 am and are advised to wear long sleeves, a hat and boots, and to carry a pair of cutters or pliers.

Msunduzi did not answer directly to questions about the criminal charge, but reiterated that animals “died naturally and because of snares”.

The City said it will be bringing in a vet to ascertain whether there are problems with the animals.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  bisley nature reserve

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