Midvaal municipality looks to tighten by-laws on domestic ownership of exotic animals

Exotic tiger, regal in natural habitat. Picture: Rupak de Chowdhuri

Exotic tiger, regal in natural habitat. Picture: Rupak de Chowdhuri

Published Jan 19, 2023


Midvaal residents thinking of keeping an exotic wild animal as a pet could find themselves tangled in red tape.

According to Midvaal Local Municipality mayor, Peter Teixeira, council is looking at ways to toughen up by-laws on keeping wild animals as pets.

“The municipality is already in the process of strengthening its by-laws to regulate the process of keeping exotic wild animals to ensure that such incidents never occur again,” Teixeira said.

He said this after a female tigress, named Sheba, had to be euthanised after she escaped from her enclosure in Walkerville, at the weekend.

Teixeira said Sheba was spotted after an intense three-day search. She was euthanised in the early hours of Wednesday morning after she attacked a man and killed several animals.

Teixeira said Sheba was spotted in the Arboretum Farm area in Walkers Fruit.

He said the decision to euthanise her was not taken lightly as tigers are listed as “endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red List of threatened species.

“Many efforts and resources were put to capture the tiger safely and alive.

“The decision to euthanise Sheba was taken to protect the lives of residents as the tiger had become increasingly dangerous,” Teixeira said

Animal rights group, World Animal Protection, says if South Africa imposed stricter laws on exotic animal ownership, Sheba the tigress would still be alive.

Wildlife Campaign Manager Edith Kabesiime, said Sheba's life was ended prematurely due to human actions that could have been avoided.

“As World Animal Protection, we reiterate that wild animals are not pets and should not be kept as such. They have specific needs and behaviours that are difficult to meet in captivity. They are sentient beings and have a right to a wild life,” she said.

The organisation urged the government through the Department of Forestry Fisheries and Environment to reconsider their captive wildlife policies and adopt laws which do not promote animal cruelty and exploitation as they are reviewing their lion farming policies.

“Wild Animals should not be kept in captivity to be exploited for commercial gain. It is cruel and inhumane” she said.

The National Council of SPCAs (The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has confirmed that it is investigating the circumstances leading up to the shooting. “Neither the local SPCA nor the NSPCA (National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) were contacted when Sheba was sighted and shot. This ‘silver lining’ in this very dark cloud is that, at the very least, Sheba will never have to face living her life as a prisoner in a cage again,” the council said.