A nationwide investigation by the National Council of SPCAs into the movement of animals into, out of and within South Africa led to questions being raised about the porous nature of our ports of entry/exit and constructive steps that could be undertaken to rectify the problems encountered. Additional aspects such as the interrelatedness of animal welfare contraveners and individuals involved in other animal crime to further organised crime operations were explored, as well as the challenges facing the Ports of Entry and Exit enforcement staff at the Ports of Entry/Exit in the execution of their duties.
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In a country that is 1 219 090 square kilometres with over 60 land, sea and air ports, South Africa, and its strained enforcement staffing resources, has become a country of preference for an ever-growing list of smugglers, illegally operating traders, transporters, dealers and other opportunistic criminals. The apprehending of these criminals and enforcement of legislation is often fraught with frustration and red tape, resulting in confusion, apathy and a reluctance to take action from the relevant border officials. The reality on the borders is that motivation levels, skills levels and the need for, and provision of, up to date training and interception techniques are underestimated and therefore under catered for.
In light of the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa, the Department of Environmental Affairs took the decision to deploy conservation specialists to key designated Ports of Exit – those through which international trade in endangered species takes place.
From the firsthand experience and working interactions with all the various operational entities, the NSPCA believes that this approach is currently insufficient. The stark reality is that perpetrators of animal crime do not present themselves to a mandated department nor do they confine themselves to certain designated Ports of Entry. The NSPCA investigation has highlighted the need not only for a well supported, more proactive approach from our borders and ports of entry/exit but also for improved synergy between the enforcement departments, both nationally and internationally. A more holistic approach to animal crime within the greater network of associated criminal activity is paramount in maintaining the recent successes and ensuring the ongoing momentum in the fight against poaching in all its forms.
NSPCA Awareness Campaign
In 2011 the NSPCA embarked on an ongoing awareness campaign as well as a training and skills development initiative aimed at empowering the enforcement personnel at targeted ports of entry/exit. Where possible, their enforcement counterparts from our neighbouring countries have been invited to join these presentations. This approach has resulted in better coordination, communication, efficiency and operational support between these departments as well as increased initiative and enthusiasm in bringing perpetrators of not only animal welfare contraventions, but additional animal crime and other associated illegal activities to book.
The information gathered about the Ports of Entry/Exit dynamics and the steps already taken to address some of the problems encountered are proving invaluable to the enforcement agents fighting the criminal activity and other border contraventions.
NSPCA Animal Welfare Monitoring at Ports of Entry/Exit
The range of animals travelling to and from South Africa by air is extensive and includes domestic pets, production animals, racehorses, day-old chickens, fish and wild animals. Thousands of animals are moved annually through OR Tambo International Airport both internationally and nationally, and this airport is closely monitored on a weekly basis by national NSPCA Inspectors. The welfare issues encountered usually involve sub-standard crates, insufficient ventilation, overcrowding, long periods of travelling and stand-overs in warehouses due to delays in legal clearances, the incorrect loading and handling of crates containing live animals as well as the lack of care in placement within the warehouses and outside in a variety of weather conditions.
The movement of animals through land ports is extensive and species include wildlife, farm animals and domestic pets. The NSPCA conducts regular campaigns at various posts along our border and checks on the welfare of the animals being transport and the appropriateness of vehicles used. Road transport presents its own animal welfare problems which include long-distance travel, overcrowding and associated injuries as well as long delays at border posts.
Sadly, South African cattle continue to be exported by sea to Mauritius for inhumane slaughter. The NSPCA has worked to resolve the issue over many years and is currently exploring additional options. The export of live animals from our country was an issue featured on MNET’s Carte Blanche programme on 22 April 2012.
NSPCA Makes a Difference
The trade and movement of animals is not illegal but the NSPCA continually expresses its concern about the standards of care in the movement of animals both within our own country and across our borders. We work extensively to ensure that animals are handled humanely and with compassion. The NSPCA has consulted with industries to promote change and ensure welfare standards and has been instrumental in the development of a number of Codes of Practice and SABS Standards.
- Handling and Transportation of Livestock
- Keeping of Livestock at Auctions, Saleyards, Vending Sites and Shows
- Translocation of certain species of wild herbivore
- The welfare of wild animals transported by sea Vehicles for the transportation of wild herbivores by road to holding pens and other facilities
- Vehicles for the transportation of wild carnivores by road to holding pens and other facilities