GRAVE CONCERNS ABOUT THE MPUMALANGA PROVINCIAL AUTHORITIES ENABLING THE CRUEL, INDISCRIMINATE AND UNSCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT OF VERVET MONKEYS

The Members of the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum of South Africa addressed an urgent letter to the Chief Executive Officer of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency with regard to their concerns about permits issued by the MTPA which would enable the cruel, indiscriminate and unscientific management of vervet monkeys in Mpumalanga.

GRAVE CONCERNS ABOUT MPUMALANGA PROVINCIAL AUTHORITIES ENABLING THE CRUEL, INDISCRIMINATE AND UNSCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT OF VERVET MONKEYS

The Wildlife Animal Protection Forum of South Africa (WAPFSA), a collective of thirty organisations, has a history of interest in the protection and conservation of wild animals in South Africa, sharing a body of expertise from different sectors including but not limited to scientific, environmental, legal, welfare, rights, social justice, climate, indigenous and public advocacy backgrounds.

Members of WAPFSA are also part of the Ministerial Wildlife Well-being Forum, instituted by the Department of Forestry, Fishery and the Environment (DFFE) in May 2023, by special request of Minister Barbara Creecy, in order to consult with organisations focused on best practices for the protection of wildlife.

The NEM:BA amendments came into effect on 30 June 2023. The Honourable Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, is currently in the process of implementing a legislative mandate to prohibit activities that may have a negative impact on the well-being of wild animals and to make regulations in relation to the well-being of wild animals, as per Section 2 of NEM:BA.

In the aforementioned section of NEM:BA, it is specified that all procedural activities that constitute biodiversity management, conservation and sustainable use of wild animals, including the issuing of permits, must consider the well-being of animals.

Section 9A of NEM:BA in particular, refers to any activity where there is reasonable evidence of a potential negative impact on animal well-being, using the wording “that may have a negative impact” which means that it is not required to have absolute proof of a negative impact to prohibit any activity. It implies that a precautionary approach, in line with the NEMA principles, must prevail.

URGENT REQUEST FOR INCLUSION OF INDIGENOUS NON-HUMAN PRIMATE SPECIES IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN THREATENED OR PROTECTED SPECIES LISTING

WAPFSA members wrote a letter to the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment on the 14th December 2023 requesting the inclusion six indigenous non-hum primate species in the South African Threatened or Protected Species Listing.

It is the Minister’s discretion to list species that fall into the criteria in Section 56 (1) (d): protected species. Such species do not necessarily have to be mentioned in other conservation lists such as the IUCN List or any other external lists. Provided that the proposed species fall into the description of those categories, they can be added to the TOPS list.

This followed the formal request from WAPFSA members on the 21st November 2023.

Image Credit: KVET Pringle Bay, South Africa

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.

WAPFSA REQUESTS IMMEDIATE REMOVAL OF IT’S NAME FROM THE WILDLIFE RANCHING SOUTH AFRICA WEBSITE

“It has come to the attention of WAPFSA that Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) has included WAPFSA on the Forum and Membership menu of their website, and in addition, mistakenly used the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment logo.

WAPFSA has requested that WRSA urgently removes WAPFSA from the WRSA website.”

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.

OBJECTION TO THE PROPOSED CONSTRUCTION OF POWERLINE AND ASSOCIATED SUBSTATION WORKS, IN THE MOPANI AND SEKHUKHUNE DISTRICT MUNICIPALITIES

On the 3rd September 2023 WAPFSA formally objected to the construction of a Eskom Foskor-Merensky 400kV power line and the associated sustain works in the Mopane and Sekhukhune district municipalities on the grounds that this project will have disastrous negative consequences for wildlife conservation in an important wildlife corridor and sensitive biodiversity area.

The proposed power line project stands in stark contrast to the principles and goals enshrined in the recently approved White Paper on Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biodiversity (the ‘White Paper’).

In light of the objections listed WAPFSA is of the view that the DSR requires significant revision, including consultation with environmental experts before the process can be allowed to continue.

Image Credit: Gurcharan Roopra

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.

SEVERE NEGATIVE IMPACT OF NAMIBIA’S DECISION TO KILL 86 000 CAPE FUR SEALS FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES ON THE WELL-BEING OF THE OCEAN AND AQUATIC BIODIVERSITY IN SOUTH AFRICA

WAPFSA wrote a letter to the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment with regard to Namibia’s decision to kill 86000 Cape Fur Seals for commercial purposes.

The decision has been taken by the Namibian government to slaughter 86000 Cape fur seals despite a decrease in demand for seal pups and the mounting opposition from conservationists.  The brutal financially motivated killing of Cape fur seals in Namibia should be of concern to us all, because of the potential negative cascading effects on South African marine ecosystems.   

One such negative effect relates to sharks. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has warned that 37.5% of the 1 200 known species of sharks are threatened with extinction. South Africa is a Party to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, also known as the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) with the objective to conserve migratory species throughout their ranges, including sharks that are listed in CMS Appendix I and II; according to CMS’s Article 2 and 2(2) and 2(3), (Parties) must take action, 

whenever possible and appropriate […] paying special attention to migratory species the conservation status of which is unfavourable and taking individually or in cooperation appropriate and necessary steps to conserve such species and their habitat [..] to avoid any migratory species becoming endangered;  […] shall endeavour to provide immediate protection for migratory species included in Appendix I and […] shall endeavour to conclude agreements covering the conservation and management of migratory species included in Appendix II.

Namibia is one of a few countries that are “participating non-parties” to the CMS which implies that they are party to one or more of the agreements, and/or have signed one or more of the MOUs, for example, they have signed an MOU for the protection of the Atlantic Turtle. 

The members of the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum South Africa (WAPFSA) recently prepared comments which were delivered to the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) on the Shark Biodiversity Management Plan, drafted in order to protect sharks. In direct contrast, Namibia’s Ministry of Fisheries approved a quota for the harvesting or culling of 80 000 seal pups and 6000 seal bulls to commence from the 1st of July 2023 and to continue till November. The Cape fur seal is one of the primary sources of food for many large sharks including the great white shark. 

On the 11th of July 2023, WAPFSA issued a public statement on the planned killing of seals in Namibia (see also Annexure I). The statement questioned the non-transparent and unscientific decision-making process with regard to this cruel and unacceptable slaughter. 

Two colonies of seals will be targeted during the planned slaughter period, the Cape Cross colony and the Walvis Bay colony, both near Swakopmund.  Of further concern is that both of these areas have a history of Cape fur seal mass mortality.  In   2020 and 2022, the phenomena of die-offs of the most common apex predator concerned local and international experts.  

AN UNJUSTIFIABLE MASSACRE

According to scientific articles, the exploitation of seal body parts for trade in Southern Africa is a colonial relic dating back to the 17th century.  Seals were slaughtered indiscriminately by sailors, for skins, meat and oil and for three centuries until 1899.

The slaughter in the modern day continues even though it is socially unacceptable and highly contested.  The actual slaughter, paradoxically, takes place inside nature reserves; before sunrise, away from eyewitnesses, while the beaches are closed.  

The Cape fur seals, who are not nocturnal mammals, are surprised in the dark or predawn. Terrified pups are rounded up, forcibly separated from their mothers, and violently beaten to death while the mothers watch from a short distance, and helplessly exchange mother–pup vocal highly distressed calls. 

Scientific research has indicated that these marine mammals are sentient, alert and able to discriminate calls with high acoustic similarity and identify their offspring even in extremely large and numerous colonies. The call is the primary identification signal between mother and pup.  Labourers are employed to club the pup to death or kill them with pick handles or shoot them. Pups get so terrified that they vomit their mothers’ milk in fear. Once the slaughter for the day is completed, the seal carcasses are piled up, taken away from the area by trucks and the blood is cleaned and removed before the oblivious tourists arrive.

CONCLUSION 

The Cape Fur Seal, and associated predators, range across the oceans of Southern Africa.   The Cape fur seal massacre in Namibia is promoted by short-sighted economic agendas, and it represents a threat to fragile local and extended ecosystems as well as to endangered species which are endemic to South Africa. 

The unjustified massacre of the Cape fur seal raises huge ethical, animal and human welfare, well-being and environmental concerns. 

The undersigning members of WAPFSA urge the DFFE Ministry to examine its objectives in terms of NEM:BA, to call for the protection of the Cape fur seal and to take all possible actions to halt stop this barbaric, unscientific and irresponsible massacre now, and to encourage long-term agreements to prevent this from happening in the future. 

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.

WILDLIFE FORA CONSULTATION

The Wildlife Animal Protection Forum South Africa (WAPFSA) is a network of diverse South African-based organisations that share certain values, knowledge and objectives and are comprised of expertise from different sectors including, but not limited to scientific, environmental, legal, animal welfare, animal rights, social justice, indigenous knowledge and public advocacy backgrounds.

On Friday 19th of May 2023 Members of WAPFSA wrote a letter to Minister Barbara Creecy. This is an excerpt from this communication:

WAPFSA thanks the Honourable Minister for establishing the Wildlife Well-being Forum.

In 2005, the Minister of Environment, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, established a consultative Wildlife Forum to engage quarterly with private entities about wildlife policy with the main objective being sustainable use. The Terms of Reference of this Forum were deliberately exclusive, discriminatory and exclusionary, thereby deliberately denying membership to other wildlife stakeholders including those working to protect and ethically conserve wild species within a one-health and welfare framework and striving to monitor and engage with all the issues discussed in the Wildlife Forum.

In February 2018 representatives of twenty-three wildlife and environmental protection organisations founded the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum South Africa (WAPFSA) and officially requested official acknowledgement from Minister for the Environment, Edna Molewa to engage with our sector.

However, not only were other stakeholders denied admission to this Forum, but no other parallel fora were established by the Government to evenly consult with other key interested and affected parties and stakeholders in the wildlife and biodiversity conservation and protection sector, despite continuous requests from the wildlife protection sector to be included.

The Wildlife Forum remains a limited and partial platform for stakeholder engagement which meets with government representatives behind closed doors to shape wildlife policy in South Africa. This has created a dysfunctional, inequitable and dualistic situation in relation to wildlife stakeholder engagement.

Following the recommendations of the High-Level Panel, in 2021, the process to establish a parallel forum, the Wildlife Well-being Forum, was initiated. We are pleased that this collaborative forum was finally launched on the 5th of May 2023, to include principles of inclusiveness, diversity, openness and transparency.

During the launch of the Wildlife Well-being Forum a member of WAPFSA, the EMS Foundation, raised the issue of perpetuated inequality when it became apparent that members of the exclusive Wildlife Forum have been invited to join the Wildlife Well-Being Forum. WAPFSA welcomes inclusivity, transparency, accountability and openness but we must insist that DFFE employs an equal and even-handed approach to stakeholder engagement.

The minutes of the Consultative Wildlife Forum are not publicly available even though government policy discussions and decisions relating to the sustainable use of South Africa’s biodiversity should be transparent. Members of WAPFSA have had to resort to the legal and time-consuming process of submitting a number of applications in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 (PAIA), to obtain such minutes. Response to various PAIA applications has returned with relevant parts of the Wildlife Forum minutes redacted – including member and organisational names – in order to try and omit information which is of public interest.

Our legislation states that the treatment and management of South African wildlife is a matter of public interest and all consultative meetings with the industry representatives should be open to all relevant stakeholders, Interested and Affected Parties and observers.

In addition, many of the organisations that work within the animal protection sector are also working within the wildlife conservation framework, indicating that conservation and protection are not two different and diverging sectors to be consulted separately and most importantly, under a different set of conditions.

The notion of public participation in all spheres of government is embedded in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. The Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, Act 3 of 2000 (PAJA) is also linked to public participation. Procedural fairness stipulates the necessity for a participatory process, PAJA necessitates a process of public participation through section 4 of the Act, which to its extent allows for more informed and defensible decisions with a greater potential of support by the public.

The National Policy Development Framework approved by Cabinet in 2020, highlighted that a number of laws were overturned by the courts because of technical deficiencies in their Constitutionality and the process of consultation. The policy framework recommended truly inclusive public participatory processes and made clear that “stakeholder consultation is non-negotiable and must strive for genuine stakeholder involvement rather than simple malicious compliance with the Constitution and other laws”.

In terms of Privacy, the treatment of personal information and personal interests in the public space, in the case Bernstein and Others v Bester NO and Others 1996 (4) BCLR 449 (CC); 1996 (2) SA 751 (CC), the Constitutional Court clearly established that: […] the fact that no right is to be considered absolute, implies that from the outset of interpretation, each right is always already limited by every other right accruing to another citizen. In the context of privacy, this would mean that it is only the inner sanctum of a person, such as his/her family life, sexual preference and home environment, which is shielded from erosion by conflicting rights of the community. This implies that community rights and the rights of fellow members place a corresponding obligation on a citizen, thereby shaping the abstract notion of individualism towards identifying a concrete member of civil society. Privacy is acknowledged in the truly personal realm, but as a person moves into communal relations and activities such as business and social interaction, the scope of personal space shrinks accordingly.’

The continued existence of the exclusive Wildlife Forum, which has historically operated in a bubble and behind closed doors, under a non-disclosure clause is unfair, unconstitutional, unnecessary and non-compliant with a number of laws, policies and guidelines.

As mentioned, during the public launch of the Wildlife Well-being Forum members of the Wildlife Forum have been given the opportunity to apply and join a more inclusive and transparent process. We respectfully, therefore, request the closure of the Consultative Wildlife Forum as established in 2005.

Alternatively, we ask that the Wildlife Forum be reconstituted to conform with the way that the Wellbeing Forum is constituted. To achieve this, industry representatives could observe Well-being Forum meetings but not participate and Well-being Forum representatives could observe Wildlife Forum meetings but not participate. This will promote transparency and efficiency while avoiding conflict during meetings.

WAPFSA also requests the unredacted disclosure of all minutes and records from the aforementioned Wildlife Forum for public scrutiny.

WAPFSA acknowledges and values the Honourable Minister’s continued efforts toward achieving fair processes and a more transparent and inclusive way to engage with stakeholders and civil society in relation to wildlife policy and we look forward to a positive and constructive working relationship with your department and other stakeholders.

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.

CAPE PENINSULA BABOON STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN

Members of the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum South Africa delivered a submission with their comments on the Draft Cape Peninsula Baboon Strategic Management Plan on Friday 31st March 2023.

READ THE FULL SUBMISSION HERE:

The Plan should be titled: CAPE PENINUSULA HUMAN-BABOON CO-EXISTENCE STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT PLAN (HBCEMP) this will speak to a more useful framework to help support more sustainable people-nature interactions in the context of the conservation of African baboons to achieve human-baboon coexistence, by balancing the integrity of nature with human wellbeing. A new ethos is necessary to ensure changes not only to what is done but how things are done. The MP should be based on Ubuntu and within the context of changing people’s attitudes to Nature and wild species so that they understand that their conservation is essential to the long-term flourishing of humanity and aspire to co-exist harmoniously within Nature instead of simply regarding wild species as merely economic “resources” or “damage-causing”.

WAPFSA believes that this merits a separate goal (Ubuntu and harmonious co-existence within Nature are promoted) which focuses on how conservation will be undertaken in future, with an emphasis on applying ethics such as Ubuntu to change how people view, and relate to Nature, and to contribute to ways for people to co-exist with wild species so that life in all its diversity can be sustained and that human wellbeing is increased as a consequence of protecting and restoring natural ecosystems instead of at their expense.

The Plan cannot be developed in a vacuum. It therefore must include a preface which provides the overarching context and background in relation to South Africa’s primate populations including the lack of credible data, the urgent need for a population census, regulation and oversight insufficiencies and the outdated legislative framework (both provincially and nationally) – for example, sections of the Western Cape Biodiversity Act have not come into effect, particularly the Ordinance has not been repealed and this relates specifically to the status and killing of baboons. Please take note of the contents and findings of this 2023 research report on South Africa’s nonhuman primates: 

Transformational changes (game-changing shifts) are urgently needed if we are to secure humanity’s future. To do this we need to address the interlinked emergencies of human-induced climate change and the loss of wild species. What is needed is a progressive vision and policy for conservation based on the ethic of Ubuntu and the recognition that humanity can only flourish in the long term by conserving the natural systems that support all life and finding ways to coexist in harmony with Nature.

Conservation policies and decisions must be guided primarily by ecological and welfare considerations, i.e. decisions about wild species and biodiversity must be based on ecological considerations (e.g. what is best for the ecosystem) and welfare considerations (e.g. treating wild animals with respect and without cruelty both for their own sakes and to foster consideration for other species in accordance with the ethic of Ubuntu.

WAPFSA notes that some organisations are of the opinion that the entire BSMP process is flawed and illegal. This needs to be taken seriously and investigated by the JMC to determine if all the necessary steps in this process were correctly followed.

WAPFSA wants to place on record that there are transparency and accountability concerns as stakeholders were not provided with the Terms of Reference of the CPBMJTT or the Memorandum of Agreement between the three parties. These are essential documents to verify policy, budget, or resources, amongst other things, from and between the three spheres of government involved. In addition, stakeholders were never informed of the criteria for the selection of the members of the CPBMJTT and had no opportunity to comment on such criteria.

WAPFSA requests that any changes to the existing Baboon Management programme be consultative and inclusive of all stakeholders.

WAPFSA is concerned that the City of Cape Town (“COCT”) Urban Baboon Programme is to be terminated in June 2023 with apparently no plan in place to ensure the safety and well-being of the Peninsula baboons. If the programme is resumed, WAPFSA is of the view that the protocols for the monitoring of baboons needs to be re-examined and re-imagined, through wide stakeholder consultation.

WAPFSA urgently requests a moratorium on the killing of baboons while the Management Plan is being amended, updated, consulted on, and implemented.

Image Credit: Jenny Parsons Pringle Bay, South Africa

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.

WAPFSA AND ASSOCIATED ORGANISATIONS URGE SOUTH AFRICA TO DESIST FROM THE WILD COAST SEISMIC ACTIVITIES

Addressed to:

President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa

Minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe

Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy

CEO South African National Biodiversity Institute, Mr Shonisani Munzhedzi

CEO Shell, Mr Ben Van Beurden

COPY OF THE OPEN LETTER:

NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS URGE THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT TO DESIST FROM THE CURRENT SEISMIC SURVEY ACTIVITIES TO ALLOW FOR FURTHER URGENT SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH 

The Wildlife Animal Protection Forum South Africa (WAPFSA), is an alliance of diverse South African NGOs that share certain values, knowledge and objectives. WAPFSA collectively comprises of a body of expertise from scientific, conservation, welfare, rights, tourism, social justice, indigenous rights,  public advocacy sectors and the law.

The communication supported by the undersigned national and international organisations refer to the proposed seismic exploration activity by Shell and Shearwater GeoServices that is due to begin on or around the 1st of December 2021 and fully support the actions and campaign from the coalition called Oceans Not Oil.

The undersigned members are opposed to the proposed exploration activities due to a host of reasons which are outlined below: 

In 2013, Impact Africa Limited applied for an Exploration Rights in terms of Section 79 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) to explore for oil and gas in the Transkei and Algoa Exploration Areas off the East Coast of South Africa. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report was, at that stage, not a requirement in the application process and an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) was drawn up instead. In the eight years since the exploration rights were applied for, legislation has changed and it is now mandatory that an EIA is carried out for projects of this nature. It is vitally important that a high level of research and study be undertaken before such a large scale seismic survey can be  permitted. Various assessments need to be conducted by scientists to determine the effects of the proposed project before it can be allowed to commence. 

THE MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION OF BABOONS A NEW POLICY DRAFTING PROCESS FOR THE CAPE PENINSULA

Members of the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum of South Africa have written to Minister Bredell and Dr Ernst Baard requesting the inclusion of such members in the decision making process of the drafting of the new policy for the management and protection of baboons in the Cape Peninsula.

Herewith the copy of the letter:

Excerpts from the letter dated Tuesday 24th August 2021:

The members of WAPFSA would, once again, like to formally express their insistence with regard to being involved and consulted with, as a wildlife welfare and protection sector, during the planning process of the new proposed Baboon Management Policy for the Cape Peninsula. 

We have been led to believe from media reports that such guidelines are being reviewed under the guidance of Cape Nature, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA and other stakeholders.

WAPFSA has, on multiple occasions, formally indicated that citizens in the Cape Peninsula need new legislation and by-laws rather than guidelines. 

WAPFSA is hereby requesting to be kept informed on the exact processes and timeline of consultations. In addition, we believe that consultation with our sector should occur prior to any proposed amendments to the management policy are considered and not after.

WAPFSA members believe that the suggestion of attending workshops to review the new guidelines and protocols once these are formulated is not acceptable.

WAPFSA members have a historic interest in the management and protection of Chacma Baboons in the Cape Peninsula.

WAPFSA members, with their vast and varied experience in wildlife conservation, wildlife welfare and constitutional and environmental law have been included in decision making processes at national level, and therefore as a sector deserve to be consulted.

Image Credit: Bolo, Cape of Good Hope SPCA.

© 2021 WAPFSA. All rights reserved

UMSIZI UMKOMMAS VERVET MONKEY RESCUE

WAPFSA OFFICIAL OPEN LETTER TO NATIONAL COUNCIL OF SPCAs

ADDRESSED TO:

Mr Douglas Wolhuter, Manager, Wildlife Protection Unit

Meg Wilson, Public Relations

Tuesday 6th April 2021

On the 30th of March 2021 Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife published the following statement on social media: 

On Monday, 29th March 2021 various divisions of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (Ezemvelo), working together with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) successfully seized close to 100 Vervet Monkeys that were illegally kept in Umsizi Umkomaas Vervet Monkey Rescue Centre.
The Owner was charged with breaking two sections of Nature Conservation Ordinance 15 of 1974.  The two sections that she failed to adhere to are:
• Section 80 (1) of the Nature Conservation Ordinance 15 of 1974 which states that “No person shall keep in captivity any indigenous mammal or exotic mammal, except in terms of a permit granted under subsection 2 of section 84 and in accordance with the conditions, if any, imposed under subsection (3) of that section.”
• Section 213 (4B) which states that “ Any person who fails to comply with any lawful demand made by any Officer or honorary Officer under this Ordinance, or wilfully gives any false or misleading information in pursuance of such demand shall be guilty of an offence and be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding five hundred rand, or in default payment, to imprisonment for any term exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment.
The owner of Umsizi Vervet Monkeys Rescue Centre had been given 21 days’ notice on 4th February 2021 to remove the monkeys. She was charged yesterday and was given a R1500 fine.
All vervet monkeys removed by Ezemvelo Game Capture Unit will be disposed of in accordance with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Guidelines for the Placement of Confiscated Animals. These guidelines include

• returning confiscated animals to the wild;
• returning confiscated animals in captivity and
• Euthanasia.
The Consulting team that assisted in confiscating all monkeys, first walked around the property viewing all occupied outdoor enclosures which each housed between 5 to approximately 30 individual Vervet Monkeys. The monkeys were kept in five different enclosures.
In one enclosure next to the kitchen, there were multiple monkeys housed in an extremely small (3.5m x 2m) and dark outdoor area with no sun availability and no perches (except for one beam which was attached to broken and rusting steel mesh). The walls and floors were covered in old faecal matter and had to be swept out by the consulting team before catching could begin.
The SPCA began catching in the second enclosure, netting a few individuals, but the consulting team took over. The floor was covered in sludge and faecal matter with the team having to clean their boots multiple times in order to prevent slipping while catching.
The team noticed a male which was looking lethargic and caught him up immediately and boxed him as an individual. Whilst the rest of the catching was done, this male was monitored throughout. Catching was particularly difficult in this enclosure as multiple areas of roofing were rusted and damaged as well as having broken mesh in and around the enclosure.
The 4th enclosure housed 6 individuals. This enclosure showed the most obvious health and safety concerns. Large nails were sticking out of the walls, rotting roofing and broken floor boards allowed for monkeys to hide in these unsanitary, unsafe areas. One monkey caught its cheek on an exposed nail which created a small superficial cut along its cheek. These monkeys were boxed together.
Each troop other than the smaller groups were split into 2 large boxes with a capacity between 6 and 10 individuals. The boxes are 1.5m x 1.2m x 1m with a steel frame as to ensure the safety of the monkeys while being transported.
Dr. Roy Jones, who is Ezemvelo’s District Conservation Manager – Ethekwini has expressed his appreciation to SPCA and all officials involved in the rescue of these monkeys and further warned that Ezemvelo will continue to confiscate animals that are kept without official permit.

IMAGE OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA POST:

At the time of writing this letter, the post on Facebook had received 735 comments the majority of which were not complimentary towards Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the SPCA or the Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife.

In light of the SPCA objective and mission which is to serve and protect all animals, to uplift their welfare and to ensure that the protection they have under South African law is upheld and respected, to prevent cruelty and promote the welfare of all animals, whilst our vision is to end animal cruelty in South Africa and engender compassion for animals the members of WAPFSA would appreciate an urgent response to this letter to confirm where the nearly 100 vervet monkeys seized during the aforementioned raid are being held at present. 

WAPFSA consists of an alliance of diverse South African organisations and individuals that share certain values, knowledge and objectives that collectively comprise of a body of expertise from scientific, conservation, legal, animal rights, tourism, social justice and public advocacy sectors.

Whilst WAPFSA members appreciate the fact that the SPCA cannot comment on the on-going matter that is being heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on behalf of the owner of the Umzizi Umkomaas Vervet Rescue Centre.  The raid was apparently illegal because it was carried out without a warrant.  

Our concern is for the well-being of the vervet monkeys whilst the outcome of the high-court matter is being determined. 

WAPFSA members would however like to be advised if the NSPCA will be  investigating what transpired during the aforementioned raid and what exactly happened to the confiscated vervet monkeys?  

Will the NSPCA be pursuing charges against the organisations and or individuals involved with regard to the Animal Protection Act?  Will the NSPCA therefore investigate the SPCA branch that was present and active during this raid?

WAPFSA members would, in particular, like the following questions answered:

  1. A number of the captured monkeys were physically and mentally challenged, were special precautions taken to make sure these monkeys received adequate care during the confiscation process?
  2. Were the monkeys unnecessarily terrified during the capture process?
  3. Did one of the monkeys die during the capture process?
  4. Where were the monkeys transported to? What was the distance covered between the capture site and the release site? 
  5. How many monkeys died during the transportation from stress and/or heat exhaustion?
  6. At the “release” site, were a number of monkeys shot? 
  7. Who gave the order to exterminate these monkeys?
  8. Were they shot in their cages?
  9. Were the monkeys in individual cages?
  10. How many shots were fired in total?
  11. How many monkeys survived and where are these monkeys being held?

The undersigned members of the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum South Africa (WAPFSA) look forward to receiving a timely explanation and answers to our important and relevant questions.

Yours faithfully, Megan Carr and Steve Smith

Megan Carr Founder Rhinos in Africa

Steve Smith Co-Founder Monkey Helpline

Dave du Toit Founder Vervet Monkey Foundation

Samantha Dewhirst Director Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education

Jenni Trethowan Founder Baboon Matters

Lorraine Holloway Director Baboons of the South

Smaragda Louw Director Ban Animal Trading

Michele Pickover Director EMS Foundation

Stefania Falcon Founder Future 4 Wildlife South Africa

Toni Brockhoven Chairperson Beauty Without Cruelty

Wynter Worsthorne Founder Animal Talk Africa

Sairusha Govindsamy Founder Africa Climate Alliance

Stephen Fritz Chief South Peninsula Khoi Council

Jabu Myeni Founder Gifted for Good

Linda Tucker CEO Founder Global White Lion Protection Trust

Les Mitchell Director Institute for Critical Animal Studies Africa

Kim Da Ribeira Director OSCAP

Vivien Law Parliament for the People

Lex Abnett Director Southern African Fight for Rhinos

Sera Farista Youth Climate Group

Guy Jennings Director WildAid Southern Africa

Fiona Miles Director Four Paws South Africa

Image Credit: Tracy Rowles Umsizi Umkomaas Vervet Rescue Centre

© 2021 WAPFSA. All rights reserved