In May of 2014 the NSPCA laid animal cruelty charges against Elephants of Eden, the Knysna Elephant Park, their directors and management including Lizette Withers, in terms of the Animals Protection Act, 71 of 1962 for cruelty to elephants after the NSPCA received horrific footage depicting cruel and abusive training methods employed to control and train baby and young elephants for the elephant-based tourist industry.

The footage shows elephant calves and juvenile elephants being chained, roped and stretched, shocked with electric cattle prods and hit with bull hooks – all methods used to force these gentle giants to submit to the will of their trainers and handlers. The elephants show signs of crippling injuries with severely swollen legs and feet, debilitating abscesses and wounds resulting from the abusive use of ropes, chains, and bull hooks. The calculated and premeditated cruelty of this nature that took place at this facility is a far cry from the loving sanctuary image that Elephants of Eden/Knysna Elephant Park like to portray.

Despite our efforts on behalf these elephants, Advocate J. C. Coetzee, the Director of Public Prosecutions : Grahamstown (in a letter dated 12 November 2016) confirmed to the NSPCA his decision not to prosecute the case, stating that he had not been persuaded that “the ‘training methods’ employed indeed constituted ‘cruel’ treatment and/or caused ‘unnecessary’ suffering to the elephants involved.”

We were shocked at this decision and took the matter to the Regional Court.

The case heard on the 23rd of November 2018 was again remanded until early March 2019, as another accused has been added to the docket and Ms Withers has to provide the court with a medical certificate as she failed to appear in court previously. A new prosecutor has also been assigned to the case.

We will continue to update our supporters on the proceedings of this case.

For previous articles related to this case, please click here

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