The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) is concerned by the low number of pigeons that have returned to their loft of the South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race (SAMDPR) which took place on Saturday, 3 February 2018.

2627 pigeons were liberated in the early morning of 3 February 2018 in Colesburg and were expected to make their way back to their loft in Sasolburg but to date, only 1569 pigeons have returned which means that 40% are still missing.

The pigeons used for pigeon racing are bred in captivity and spend their lives in the care of humans making them completely dependent on humans to survive. They are not aware of predators and do not know how to protect themselves from the elements or even how to forage for themselves.

“Over a thousand domesticated birds have been forced to fend for themselves in the wild for going on 5 days, we can only imagine how terrified and exhausted they must be and that is assuming that they have survived this long – we cannot justify this amount of suffering in the name of sport” said National Inspector Jacques van der Merwe of the NSPCA Special Projects Unit.

The environmental impact that this could have if surviving birds join South Africa’s growing feral population is also cause for concern – the pigeon is considered an invasive species with a rapid reproduction rate, this is a serious concern for the environment as well as the birds’ welfare.

The NSPCA remains opposed to animal racing in all forms.

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