Cape Town Unites For Animals Again

Yesterday, 104 conservation, animal and human protection, and social justice organisations, as well as numerous members of the public united once again for animals in the Mother City.

After a short march from Darling Street to Parliament, Toni Brockhoven from Beauty without Cruelty presented a petition to His Excellency, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, MP Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). He made a promise to bring the petition to the attention of the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Ministers of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs.

The petition draws attention to the fact that the South African public is largely dissatisfied with the current policies, regulation, enforcement and management of our wildlife. Section 24 of our Constitution guarantees a healthy environment to every person, including animals, as was established by our Constitutional Court. This ruling confirmed statements made by the Supreme Court of Appeal:

* constitutional values dictate a more caring attitude towards fellow humans, animals and the environment in general;

* the rationale behind protecting animal welfare has shifted from merely safeguarding the moral status of humans to placing intrinsic value on animals as individuals;

* illustrates the extent to which showing respect and concern for individual animals reinforces broader environmental protection efforts. Animal welfare and animal conservation together reflect two intertwined values.

The petition signed by 104 organisations asks our Parliament among others:-

  • To outlaw the use of captive elephants for riding and interaction; to ban cruel training methods, such as the use of bull hooks; and to object to any CITES annotations in respect to ivory,
  • To better protect our rhinos by dealing with corruption and mismanagement within our conservation bodies and law enforcement; and to stop supporting the legal local and proposed international trade in rhino horn,
  • To implement the Parliamentary Resolution to put an end to the captive lion breeding industry,
  • To update our wildlife related legislation to make provision for welfare norms and standards; to ensure consistency in national and provincial legislation; and to enforce proper permitting, record keeping and transparency of the captive wildlife industry.

The response from Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi was hugely supportive and encouraging. Two statements in his three-page letter stood out for me:

This is not about us feeling good about ourselves, because we’ve fulfilled some moral responsibility. It is about affirming the truth that animals have intrinsic value. For far too long humans have placed a financial value on animals, thinking in terms of what we can get from them, or what we can sell them for. This itself is a crime against nature.

Right now, we are 4 weeks away from a national election… Sadly, animal rights hardly feature on the national agenda. If parties even talk about the environment, it’s in terms of preserving resources for human consumption. Only the IFP is standing up and making an explicit statement.

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