The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) has laid criminal charges against a well-known game farm facility on the outskirts of Klerksdorp in the North West Province. South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, the Hawks, have taken over the investigation as this has become a high priority case.

Acting on a lead given, NSPCA Inspectors undertook an Inspection of this facility on 28 November 2019. Tigers on the property appeared to be suffering from heat exhaustion and were living in dirty and unhygienic conditions – it was evident that their enclosures had not been cleaned in some time. Other issues found included tigers being confined with unpotable drinking water, inadequate shelter, and a lack of bathing facilities.

Tigers are an exotic species and are not fully adapted to handle the high temperatures that are common in the North West Province during South African summers, the onus is therefore on the owner to provide an environment conducive to the animals’ welfare no matter the cost or inconvenience. “To keep tigers in these conditions is unacceptable, and in fact, this is a prime example of why we should not be keeping exotic species in South Africa, or any wild animal in captivity for that matter,” explained Senior Inspector Douglas Wolhuter, manager of the NSPCA’s Wildlife Protection Unit.

Not only was the confinement a violation of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962, but the owners also appear to be in contravention of the keeping permit that was issued by the permitting authority, the North West Department: Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism (NW DEDECT). A warning was issued by the NSPCA and charges were laid.

The NSPCA has since engaged twice with the NW DEDECT for a response and clarity with regards to the perceived permit contraventions, and a way forward with the animals at the facility, but have not yet had a response from the Department.

This is the third case since March 2019 that the NSPCA has opened for animal cruelty at a predator farming facility. The NSPCA will continue to investigate and take action against any facility that keeps wild animals in captivity and contravenes the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962. The NSPCA remains of the opinion that wild animals belong in the wild.

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