Elephants will be introduced to the new park near Kleinmond.
Cape Town - Animal activists are up in arms over a new Safari Park near Kleinmond, saying it has been approved despite objections.

The Conservation Action Trust said the park might hold economic gains for its owners, but would compromise the animals’ welfare and at a cost to the sensitive Overstrand environment, with elephants and other animals subjected to exploitation.

An ongoing petition calling on the Overstrand Municipality and CapeNature to deny the proposed Lamloch Safari Park developments, has reached more than 17000 signatures.

The Conservation Action Trust also complained of inconsistencies that emerged in the plans for the development of Lamloch Safari Park, which are open for public comment and objections until Friday.

The organisation said elephants would be introduced to the park by the owner, Craig Saunders, despite having its Public Access to Information Act application denied.

The organisation indicated that locals feared that the impact of building on the site and introducing elephant to the sensitive environment had not been sufficiently studied.

According to NSPCA Wildlife Trade Trafficking manager, Karen Trendler, the NSPCA is appalled by the lack of transparency by Cape Nature.

“The NSPCA was told to apply for information regarding Saunders’s captive elephant through PAIA. However, Cape Nature had refused PAIA requests from the EMS Foundation asking for the same details. This, despite a 2017 meeting in which Cape Nature director, Ernst Baard, stated that non-governmental organisations could play an important role in assisting them to develop best practice methodology and guidelines aimed at optimising the captive management of elephants,” Trendler said.

Hermanus-based biologist, Sally Paul, said the Environmental Impact Assessment had not assessed the critical environmental issues sufficiently, or mitigated against any potential negative effects.

“The property is between the Kleinmond estuary and the Botrivier estuary as well as between the mountain and coast. It plays a significant role as a corridor for the movement of wild animals as well as the iconic feral horse population that exists in the area,” Paul said.

But Saunders said all the necessary approval had been sought for the establishment of the park.

“Scientific studies have been done by the Cape Nature to determine establishment of the park. I have not received complaints from any organisation regarding the park. The park will provide free running of the animals, such as small groups of managed elephants. We are complying with the laws of the country; no one has lodged objections. We will use the park as a platform for animal preservation. There will be no elephant back riding.”

Saunders said people would be welcome to look at the animals.

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