Whilst travelling near Fouriesburg, Wildlife Protection Unit Inspector Matthee came across boxes of just over 8,000 hatchlings, which were destined to cross the border into Lesotho.
Upon enquiry about the unacceptable method of transportation, the men transporting the chicks fled – leaving the over 8,000 birds next to the road.
Depending on demand, around 8,000 to 10,000 hatchlings are transported over our borders every 7 to 10 days. During this journey, a “Clearance Fee” of R300 is paid for these sentient creatures to leave South Africa. This fee, makes no provision for these animals to be examined by a veterinarian and they are simply sent across the border to live out their fates across the border.
The NSPCA has confirmed that a ban from Lesotho was enacted, preventing birds from South Africa crossing the border, due to the numerous outbreaks of Avian Influenza in recent months.
During assessment, it became clear that many of the hatchlings were in poor condition or already dead, due to exhaustion and/or injury. To avoid unnecessary prolonged suffering, 300 hatchlings were humanely euthanised.
The remaining approximate 7,700 chicks were transported to a temporary place of safety, where they were removed from the boxes, and provided with shelter, water and feed. The chicks were subsequently returned to the hatchery of origin.
The matter has been escalated to the Free State Department of Veterinary Services for investigation.
This heart-breaking episode urges us to reflect on the immense suffering faced by chicks in the name of commerce and calls for immediate action to protect these sentient beings.