Two giraffes being transported from the estate in an open box top. One of the animals died afer it hit its head against a bridge.

Johannesburg - The exclusive Meyersdal Eco Estate never received permission from Gauteng conservation authorities for its giraffe to roam among the towering mansions of the luxurious estate.

Residents of the estate have complained that the giraffes have devoured all of the indigenous Kiepersol trees on the upmarket property in Alberton, south of Joburg.

Andile Gumede, the spokesman for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said while the estate had submitted an application for keeping giraffe, this had been declined. “Officials did an inspection and established that the area was not a suitable habitat for giraffe and advised the estate to move the giraffe to a suitable habitat.”

Last Thursday, a blindfolded giraffe died in a horror accident after it hit its head on the Garsfontein bridge on the N1, while being transported from the estate along with another giraffe on an open box top. This week it emerged that a second giraffe died during attempts to capture it last Wednesday.

The Tshwane SPCA is considering pressing charges against the wildlife transporting company, Ditshabe Wildlife Services. The giraffes were being moved to Kameeldrift, outside Pretoria, because they had “overpopulated” the plush estate. It has emerged that the developer of the estate, controversial Ekurhuleni property developer Rean Booysen, donated two giraffe to the estate several years ago. Four others were born on the estate.

Jurgens Bekker, the attorney for the estate, told the Saturday Star the giraffes had been sold “to avoid overpopulation”.

Rynette Farrar, a resident, said the giraffes did not have enough food. “The problems were that there was not enough food for them so the estate had to supplement their diet. Nearly all the Kiepersol trees in the estate were destroyed by the giraffes and it will take a while for them to recover.

“Booysen and the rest of the board were fully aware they didn’t have the necessary permits for these giraffes and other animals, like the water buck. I know because I was sitting on the board as well. They also knew it would not be possible to get the permits as policy is that only animals roaming here years ago would be on the estate with permits,” she said. Department officials, she said, often visited the estate but “turned a blind eye” to the wild animals there without the necessary permits.

The estate, which forms part of the larger Meyersdal nature area, bills itself as an “environmental paradise with wide open unspoiled nature areas”. Over the years it has reintroduced 12 game species, totalling 300 animals that were historically found in the area.

Farrar alleges that other wildlife have died on the estate. This includes a zebra that drowned when it ran, half-drugged, into a dam after an operation on its leg and a Nyala that impaled itself on a palisade fence and died. An unknown person had shot dead another Nyala bull, while a Hartebeest that broke its leg had to be put down and another “wild animal was electrocuted”.

“We are unaware of these specific incidents and assume it must have happened over several years,” Bekker said.

Saturday Star