Grisly slaughter in Bisley Nature Reserve

2019-10-11 13:39

Formerly Pietermaritzburg’s environmental gem, the Bisley Nature Reserve now resembles a killing field, littered with animals killed by snares or dying from starvation.

“It’s like a killing field,” said Pietermaritzburg SPCA senior inspector Roland Fivaz after the grisly discovery of 12 animal carcasses at the reserve — believed to have died of starvation and injuries from snares.

The discovery — first made on Tuesday with further finds on Wednesday — came when the SPCA visited the reserve following reports of a giraffe with injuries from a snare.

Fivaz said 10 wildebeest and two impala carcasses were found.

“That’s all we know about, there could be more. The park stretches all the way to the mountain, and this is just a small section,” said Fivaz.

Horrific scenes of animal carcasses greeted SPCA inspectors when they went to the reserve to try and help the giraffe that was caught in the trap.

When The Witness visited the reserve yesterday, journalists were greeted by a stench, dead animals, litter, electrical cable coverings and bricks strewn around. Broken and bent fences could be seen everywhere.

The 350-hectare reserve is less than five kilometres from the city centre

“This must have been starvation, there’s nothing else that could have killed it,” said Fivaz, pointing to one wildebeest carcass.

“It’s not poaching, there are no dog bites. The animal is thin. You can see nothing is edible in here for the animals anymore. Normally you find that the jackals would have cleaned this up but even the scavengers aren’t here anymore. They have moved on to greener pastures. It’s just left to rot away.”

He said the animals were underweight and had their ribs sticking out.

“These animals are not in their prime condition. Normally, with the winter you expect animals to drop a bit of weight but not to this extent. These animals are actually very, very neglected. I haven’t seen wildebeest like this in years … even with the drought.

“The grass here is so dry, there is no nutrition left in it. This turns to powder in no time and the animals are not even willing to eat this anymore. Wildebeest like their grass but it has to have a bit of liquid in it. Even the thorn trees are dead, and they should have brought food in months ago.”

Fivaz said on Wednesday they counted 53 giraffes, 12 wildebeest and 17 impala. But The Witness spotted three zebras as well yesterday.

“The giraffes are seriously over-stocked for this area. They eat more than the other animals and I think they are destroying quite a bit of the grazing.”

He criticised the Msunduzi Municipality for the lack of maintenance of the reserve. “We are appalled that the animals have to die because of human inconsideration. It’s painful to watch. The animals need to be brought down to manageable numbers. This could have been avoided.

“Surely the municipality can send their tankers in at least to fill up the dam to bring more water into the area. Two tankers a week is all that’s needed. If the water is sprayed on the road and left to run down, it feeds the stream and gets the grass green.”

While local farmers have banded together to drop off hay at the reserve, Fivaz asked for more public support.

“We need to bring in much more because the farmers are also limited in their resources. We have to try and keep these animals alive until we can get some decent rain in here,” Fizas added.

However, Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said “the animals did not die as a result of hunger, rather natural death”.

“The law does not allow the reserve to burn them so they were left to decompose.”

She said the municipality had nature conservationists looking after the animals. “One of the animals died as a result of poaching. We are working on tightening security at the reserve.”

Former Msunduzi mayor Rob Haswell, who is a member of the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Board, said the state of the reserve is “unsatisfactory”.

“I have certainly heard there are a few animals that have been damaged by snares.

“The wildebeest have been there for many years now and they flourished; 12 animals dying is unprecedented,” he said.

Haswell added: “If Msunduzi cannot manage the reserve, then they should call on other conservation bodies to see if they can better manage the area or maintain the reserve for them.

“Two of the leading staff members we had there for years retired, and new appointments have not been made. It places the future of the reserve in jeopardy if you don’t have people with experience in conservation. It’s yet another case of neglect and it’s disappointing.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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