The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) is perturbed by the lack of interest shown by the Government following the euthanasia of 25 horses on 12 April 2018. It has been 5 weeks since the euthanasia of these horses that were in the care of the South African Army Special Infantry Capability (SAASIC) unit at the Potchefstroom Base of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
These horses were found to be dying of starvation and the SAASIC Unit had failed to procure feed to ensure their upkeep. The horses were therefore forced to eat soil and their own faeces and their condition had perilously deteriorated.
The NSPCA has received no official communication from the Government. The chief of the SANDF, General Solly Shoke, to whom we addressed a letter, has neither acknowledged receipt thereof nor responded in any way to the serious animal welfare concerns which were raised.
We understand that the SANDF classifies their animals as equipment. It is apparent, in our opinion, that the need to ensure the provision of food and veterinary assistance to animals is not seen as one of its priorities.
It is of further concern that the SANDF has publicly stated that 60 of the remaining horses will be taken to Boekenhoutskloof, a Signals Base Camp. The area in which the camp is situated is noted for ticks and tick borne diseases in horses, particularly in summer months. This, in conjunction with the lack of equine facilities at the camp, raises questions regarding the ability of the SANDF to implement effective parasite control measures for these wild horses.
Furthermore, there are no veterinarians or veterinary facilities belonging to the SANDF in the area.
We question the lack of consultation by the SANDF with the NSPCA since the findings of our recent inspections, as well as the decision taken to move 60 wild horses to an unsuitable area, where challenges exist in providing these animals with the care and attention they deserve.
The NSPCA has attempted to work with the SANDF for the past two years with little or no success.
We will continue to conduct inspections and monitor the welfare of these horses. Given the circumstances, the necessity may well arise in the future for the NSPCA to remove the horses on welfare grounds. This work will be undertaken with donor funding which is hard come by, and it is our belief that through responsible ownership, consultation and progressive action by the SANDF, this could be avoided.