Cape Town - In the past few weeks, at least five stray dogs have made their way onto the airfield at Cape Town International Airport, posing a potential aviation risk.

It can take up to an hour to catch the dogs while aircraft are trying to take off or land.

The Cape of Good Hope SPCA was asked for advice on how to handle the situation by Marius van Rooyen, senior wildlife control officer with the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa).

He had identified areas where the dogs may have come through the perimeter fence.

One possibility was darting the dogs and tranquilising them while the other would be to shoot them.

Inspector Moyo Ndukwana of the Cape of Good Hope SPCA said the the national council of SPCAs was the relevant authority dealing with airports and he had asked them for recommendations.

Inspector Tshepo Sebake of the national council of SPCAs said they would be sending an inspector to the airport to try to establish where the dogs were getting in.

“If it is just a hole in the fence it will be easy to deal with but we can’t speculate until we have observed the problem.”

Linden Birns, managing director of Plane Talking, a Cape Town-based aviation advisory service, said any animal walking around on an airfield would be cause for concern.

 

Deidre Davids, Acsa spokeswoman, said one of the incidents resulted in an aircraft doing a “go around” delaying the landing.

“The ‘go around’, although a nuisance is an important safety precaution, something which we will not compromise on.”

She said the airport had a Wildlife Hazard Management Plan in place and also a Bird and Wildlife Unit that managed the prevention of and response to such incidents and tried to minimise the impact of animal interference as far as possible.

“Our bird and wildlife department is currently involved with NSPCA to further assist us in any recommendations for future problems on stray dogs.”

They were also looking at improving the management of areas that could attract wildlife to the precinct such as waste/food management areas.

The Mthatha airport in the Eastern Cape has long battled stray animals on the runway, at one stage even threatening the closure of the airport.

Other countries have had their share of problems.

In April, Turkish Airlines had to abort the landing of three of its airliners at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport due to stray dogs on the runway, which were later caught by firefighters.

Last month, around eight pigs made it onto the runway while India’s President Pranab Mukherjee’s jumbo Boeing 737 was taxiing towards the runway after landing, prompting a probe by its civil aviation regulator.

Spokesperson for the South African Civil Aviation Authority, Kabelo Ledwaba said the incidents in Cape Town were initially reported by the Air Traffic and Navigation Services.

“Acsa also confirmed the incident; and an investigation has been instituted to determine the cause of the incident as well as mitigation action required to avoid recurrence.”

Cape Argus