Saving injured animals
WHILE the focus was on evacuating people when scorching wildfires engulfed the coastal towns of the Southern Cape over the past few weeks, the Garden Route SPCA staff are still run off their feet attending to injured farm and domestic animals.
So far, more than 100 injured domestic and wild animals have been saved by the organisation after veld fires swept down the mountains, forcing residents to flee their homes in the George, Knysna and Rheenendal areas.
Six children under the age of 12 and two women, one of whom was six months pregnant, died when fire raged through their homes in Karatara outside Knysna.
Western Cape Minister of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Anton Bredell has declared George and Knysna disaster areas. The blaze, which lasted for two weeks, was fanned by strong winds and left a trail of destruction through the veld and displaced hundreds of families as well as domestic and wild animals.
Farmers in the region were battling to come to terms with the damage caused to their crops and the veld.
A farmer on Herold Farm, Keith Dippenaar, said: “l had to move quickly to remove my cows and horses because the fire was moving so fast.
“We are still battling with the drought, so this is not going to be easy for the farmers.
“It’s a horrific situation because the fire has left a trail of total destruction in the natural vegetation and some people have lost their lives.
“Towards the end of the year farmers always lose their livestock because of veld fires.”
Johan Koen, a farmer outside Knysna, said: “lt’s a sad time for the people of the region because some families lost loved ones in the fire.
“And while the drought is still making its presence felt, we are once again hit hard by veld fires that destroyed everything including plantations.
“There is too much destruction. “This time l was quick to move the livestock because last time l lost some goats, pigs and six sheep.
“Our livestock are left with no grazing.
“All that is left here is a total disaster – no trees, grass nothing.
“We are battling with drought and again we are now faced with this,” Koen added.
Garden Route SPCA manager Frieda van Rensburg said their staff were working around the clock to save the lives of lost and injured animals.
“We are now devoting more of our time to healing injured animals, including livestock, that were injured in the fire”.
Van Rensburg said a large number of animals had been badly injured and were in need of immediate medical attention.
“The scenes we are seeing are shocking. Some animals are badly injured and traumatised.”
“We are urging members of the public to donate to sterilise the evacuated cats, kittens, dogs and puppies.
“Our work will not be complete if we cannot return the animals to their owners having been sterilised.
“These animals breed fast which makes the problem even worse.
“Dry or tinned pet food for these extra animals would also be appreciated greatly.”
Donations can be made to the Garden Route SPCA: Standard Bank, Branch code 051001, Account number: 060823216, and please use the reference “fire”.