The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) is appalled by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and their inability to care for the horses in their custody. In April 2018, the NSPCA discovered horses that were starving to death, in the care of the South African Army Special Infantry Capability (SAASIC) Unit at the Potchefstroom Base of the SANDF. 25 horses had to be euthanased and charges were laid in terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962.
Consultation and correspondence following this incident ensued between the NSPCA and the SANDF which resulted in the NSPCA removing 69 of their wild horses to a safe environment. The SANDF also publicly stated that 60 of the remaining wild horses would be taken to Rooiwal. Correspondence was addressed to the chief of the SANDF, General Solly Shoke, and the chief of the South African Army, Lieutenant General Lindile Yam, advising them that their decision to relocate these horses to Rooiwal was not in the best interest of these horses, but the NSPCAs concerns were ignored.
Concerns included the high density of disease in the area, the lack of appropriate facilities to treat wild horses, and the fact that the property is located a far distance away from the Military Veterinary Institute’s hospital.
Of the 60 horses that were moved to Rooiwal, only 47 remain. 13 horses have died or been euthanased since their rushed and ill-advised decision to move the horses. Prevalent diseases specific to this area such as African Horse Sickness, Equine Piroplasmosis, and Equine Encephalosis Virus, have precluded animal welfare organisations from re-homing horses to that area as the risk is too high. In addition, the SANDF horses have broken legs and died of unknown causes.
Again, on 15 March 2019, an inspection was conducted at the facility. The NSPCA had to euthanase a horse in the terminal stages of African Horse Sickness that would have suffered an agonising death. The NSPCA have since been back twice to monitor the situation as a large number of horses have been infected with African Horse Sickness, Equine Piroplasmosis, and Equine Encephalosis Virus.
The SANDF’s poor decision making with regards to their animal care has been a problem since 2011. The NSPCA calls on the SANDF, and specifically the Minister of Defence, to heed advice given by the NSPCA for the benefit of the animals in their care. We are ignored by the chief of the Army.
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