Eight tortoises were killed after a controlled fire at the Darling Wildflower Reserve. Photo: Supplied
Cape Town - After eight tortoises died an agonising death, the Darling SPCA has vowed to take further action should anything similar happen again.

The tortoises died in a controlled burn by the West Coast District Municipality Fire Service.

Darling and Swartland SPCA manager Louise van Zyl said it found out about the burn a few days before and tried to contact the relevant parties to organise a sweep of the area to check for animals.

“We were not able to get a hold of them and we were told that it would happen at 10am, but it happened earlier, so our teams were not able to do the sweep. By the time we got there the burn had already started.”

She said it was very sad for the team, especially imagining how scary and agonising the ordeal must have been for the animals.

“After the burn, the staff had a walk through and found the tortoises and picked them up.

‘‘It was very sad for them because they had to go in afterwards and there was nothing they could do to help them.”

Van Zyl said in future, it would not hesitate to take further steps against those involved.

“We now believe this is broadly understood by role players and we hope future burns will be managed in a better manner.

‘‘If not we will take action. We have made them aware.”

Chief fire officer Bertus Senekal said it was requested by the reserve manager to assist it in conducting the burn on the Darling Wildflower Reserve, 87km outside Cape Town.

“This was because the veld was not burned in the last 60-odd years.

“Fynbos is a fire adaptive biome and needs to burn in order for new seeds to germinate.

‘‘The state of this veld was therefore in a very poor state.

‘‘The best time to burn fynbos is also between February and April.”

Senekal said it was granted permission by the Swartland Municipality to assist with the burn.

“We cannot comment if the area was checked for animals or not and if any other animals were injured.”

He said the burn was started earlier than the scheduled 10am as all the relevant people were present.

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