The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) on Friday exposed the horrific conditions of lions at a farm in North West.
Inspectors from its wildlife protection unit obtained a warrant after receiving a complaint.
“Upon arrival, the inspectors were horrified to find two lion cubs that were unable to walk and appeared to be showing signs they were suffering from a neurological condition.”
The NSPCA removed them for assessment and veterinary treatment by a specialist carnivore vet.
“Other issues such as small enclosures and inadequate shelter, no provision of water, overcrowding, and filthy and parasitic conditions were noted in the camps that contained lion, caracal, tiger, and leopard. Twenty-seven lions had mange and the caracal were obese, unable to properly groom themselves.
“It is deplorable that any animal would be forced to live in such conditions, with such medical ailments,” said senior inspector Douglas Wolhuter, manager of the unit.
“The fact that these are wild animals already living unnatural lives in confinement for the purposes of trade, makes it more horrific.”
The investigation continues.
“The NSPCA is building a strong case and have every intention of ensuring that justice is appropriately served for the animals.
“The trade of wild animals opens the door to abhorrent cruelty, whether it be intentional or negligent.
“Where there is money and animals involved, there is bound to be cruelty,” Wolhuter said.
Fiona Miles, the director of Four Paws in South Africa, said it wasn’t an isolated case. “This is a clear illustration why the Department of Environmental Affairs needs to implement the recommendation published last year by Parliament to bring an end to the captive breeding and keeping of lions.
“The facts are that with 300 captive breeding farms and in the region of 12000 captive lions, it is impossible to ensure each and every one of these animals are being cared for properly.
“The demand for lions, lion products and bones is increasing and our actions as a country are only fuelling this demand,” Miles said.
Meanwhile, in another case, NSPCA special project unit inspectors armed with a warrant, arrived at a Mahikeng property and found 43 greyhound dogs confined in “horrendous” enclosures without access to water. The enclosures were unkempt and parasitic.
“Some of the dogs were underweight, some had old wounds that were left untreated and had become infected.
“Puppies were suffering with Parvovirus, a highly infectious intestinal disease, and all the dogs were infested with internal and external parasites.
“One of the dogs had an untreated broken jaw.”
The inspectors removed 20 dogs due to poor conditions, and a warning was issued for the remainder.
“The NSPCA was informed by members of the public that the owner allegedly rents them for hunting wild animals, although the owner denies this, claiming he owns and breeds these dogs for the love of the animals.”
It is to lay charges against the owner and will undertake follow-up inspections to ensure conditions improve and remain acceptable, “failing which, further action will be taken”.