2000

UNITED DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT

MEDIA RELEASE


GIRAFFES DIE AT SEA - WHO'S TO BLAME?

                STATEMENT ISSUED BY MTUTUZELI MBADI, MP
UDM SPOKESPERSON FOR ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM

The UDM is appalled at the reported fiasco surrounding the export of twenty-two (22) giraffes and three (3) white rhinos that were to be sold to a Spanish zoo.

It is reported that these animals left SA on 5 October 2000 and then sent back because Spanish authorities refused to allow their ship to dock due to the foot-and-mouth outbreak in SA.

These wild animals spent five-weeks on a ship at sea and one wonders at the trauma these animals experienced, since some of them stopped eating and they are described as thin and in poor condition. It was reported that two (2) giraffes died during the voyage.

It has been argued that consideration should be given to extending, not only moral rights, but also even legal rights to animals. The UDM believes that there is no valid reason why the circle of legal recognition of inherent worth should not expand to include wildlife.

It is unacceptable that the animals left Durban a full month after foot-and-mouth was identified in KwaZulu Natal. We would like to know who was responsible for making such an ill-timed decision. It is also reported that the return shipping company has now claimed ownership of the animals, pending payment for the expenses incurred. Once again the animals are at the receiving end of their human counterparts' careless behaviour.

It is being speculated that bungling or opportunism is at the root of this cruelty, and the UDM would like to know what the South African authorities are going to do to clarify this issue and what preventative steps they propose to prevent this from re-occurring.

The UDM believes that more attention should be given to the welfare of both domestic and wild animals at national level through the establishment of comprehensive Animal Welfare legislation.

Legislation reflects our decisions regarding what is acceptable for the society in which we live. Attitudes to wildlife also reflect the culture and society of which we are a product, it is time for our legal system to provide a clearly defined body of law, which will give effective protection to what remains of the wildlife resource. Sadly, this type of ineptness undoes the good work being done in the wildlife sector such as the new
trans-frontier park between SA, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

The UDM supports the NSPCA's call for a government moratorium on the export of live animals until such a time as there are regulations in place, since it seems that there are very few guidelines for situations like these.

Issued by:
Prof Mtutuzeli Mbadi
UDM Spokesperson for Environmental Affairs and Tourism

Umtata
14 November 2000