Indigenous Wildlife as Pets
Any indigenous animals being held in captivity require a permit from the local provincial nature conservation body to be kept as a pet or for show. The NSPCA acts not only in terms of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962 in all cases, but where any animal is on exhibit by a private individual or company, they must also comply with the provisions of the Performing Animals Protection Act 24 of 1935 (PAPA) as amended.
The permits issued by any Nature Conservation permitting official and a license issued by an official from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) in terms of the PAPA, cannot be issued without the official taking due consideration of the animals’ welfare. This outcome is aligned with the High Court Ruling – NSPCA vs DEA (CASE No: 86515/2017) wherein Judge Kollapen, justifiably ruled that conservation and animal welfare are intertwined values. In this, one cannot exist without the other.
Our work has seen indigenous animals being kept in horrific conditions. For example, a Caracal being kept in a 18m2 enclosure as a pet where the enclosure would fail dismally when considering the animals needs and in cases like this, there is no conservation value in keeping the cat.
We have come across leopards being housed together in areas less than 50m2. There are vast welfare concerns within this scenario such as, a mostly solitary cat in conditions that forces the cats to be housed together in a very small area. A male leopard’s natural territory may be anywhere from 3100 hectares to over 7000 hectares1. One health, the five freedoms, and the 5 domain models of animal welfare cannot be complied within these situations. Not only are the models not adhered to, but in most cases, the APA is also contravened.