ABUSED?: Angora goats are bred for their soft inner coats, which are generally shorn twice a year, from when they are as young as six months. Picture: PETA
Cape Town - Undercover footage and an investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) showing the mistreatment of Angora goats could be the death knell for the mohair industry in South Africa after the organisation called for a ban on mohair products from this country. South Africa controls 50% of the world market for mohair products.

Video footage showing frightened goats being dragged by their horns and being killed by shearers who rid them of their coats was released by Peta. The organisation conducted an investigation into the Mohair industry in South Africa, and visited 12 different farms to investigate shearing practices.

They reported that many goats were killed during shearing and 40000 goats reportedly died per weekend across South Africa due to exposure after being sheared. Now stockists, including Topshop, Zara and H&M, have come on board and banned the sale of mohair at their stores as a consequence.

“Baby goats were left screaming in pain and fear on the shearing floor, all for mohair sweaters and scarves. Peta is urging shoppers to check clothing labels carefully, and if it says ‘mohair’, leave it on the rack,” said Peta vice-president of international campaigns Jason Baker.

Baker said Peta had been told by farmers that the practice of mishandling goats happened because shearers were paid by volume, and not by the hour.

“Shearers end up working quickly and carelessly, leaving goats cut up and bleeding. The goats are then roughly stitched up without any pain relief. Farmers admitted that after shearing, many goats died from exposure to the cold wind and rain.

“A complaint has been filed asking law enforcement agencies to investigate and file charges, as appropriate, for violations of South Africa’s Animals Protection Act, 1962,” said Baker.

Spokesperson for Mohair SA, Riaan Marais, said the reports in question are a completely inaccurate depiction of the Mohair Industry “and what this remarkable Industry represents”.

“We invite any user of the fibre to obtain first-hand experience of how the fibre is produced, and we distance ourselves from any potential findings of the mistreatment of animals by farmers and farm workers.

“By acting on sensationalist and opportunistic claims, the potential damage to the Mohair Industry and the livelihood of its 30 000 dependents could be devastating. Farmers are assessed and monitored to ensure compliance, and their product will be certified as being produced ethically and sustainably in the future,” said Marais.

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Cape Argus