Recent media coverage has highlighted a problem with communication between the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) regarding which department is responsible for the welfare of captive lions. The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) wishes to clarify that this is an issue that has been ongoing for a number of years and does not only impact lions but all captive wild animals.
The NSPCA has continually attempted to obtain clarity from both departments about which department is responsible for the humane management of captive wildlife in South Africa, to no avail. This has hindered the NSPCA in our objectives as neither department is being held accountable. It is a classic case of passing the buck.
Over the past four years, the NSPCA has had meetings with the Deputy Minister of DAFF, Bheki Cele as well as the previous Deputy Director General of the DEA. Neither meetings nor any amount of correspondence have shed light or inspired either department to take responsibility.
The NSPCA’s Wildlife Protection Unit conducts proactive and reactive inspections at captive wildlife facilities throughout South Africa. Common welfare concerns found at these facilities include poor hygiene protocols, insufficient dietary requirements, inadequate enclosure designs, barren environments with little to no enrichment, inadequate shelter and lack of veterinary treatment for sick and injured animals.
The NSPCA will continue to undertake these inspections and intervene when suffering is found while the government continue to disregard the animals’ well-being and continually avoid the responsibility of ensuring that optimal welfare standards are upheld at captive wildlife facilities in South Africa while the animals hang in the balance.