Ele­phant tor­ture claims not true, says park

NSPCA ac­cused of pla­gia­ris­ing wel­fare re­port

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - CARYN DOL­LEY

PLA­GIA­RISM al­le­ga­tions have sur­faced in a row over the wel­fare of ele­phants at a Knysna park, with claims a Na­tional So­ci­ety for the Preven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals (NSPCA) re­port was mostly copied.

The al­le­ga­tions came this week af­ter the NSPCA tried to have work­ers at the Knysna Ele­phant Park charged with an­i­mal abuse. But pros­e­cut­ing au­thor­i­ties found in­suf­fi­cient grounds to pursue a case.

The NSPCA last week vowed to try other ways to have those at the park charged while those at the park coun­tered that they would take le­gal ac­tion against the NSPCA.

In the lat­est de­vel­op­ment, Knysna Ele­phant Park yes­ter­day al­leged that more than three quar­ters of the re­port en­ti­tled “The Wel­fare Sta­tus of Ele­phants in Cap­tiv­ity in South Africa”, was pla­gia­rised. The NSPCA de­nied this.

Yes­ter­day the park’s owner, Lisette Withers, said two mem­bers of her African Ele­phant Re­search Unit had com­piled a re­spond­ing doc­u­ment to it.

“The (unit’s doc­u­ment) indi- cated that large por­tions, in fact 76 per­cent, of the NSPCA re­port had been pla­gia­rised from doc­u­ments writ­ten by oth­ers about to­tally dif­fer­ent ele­phants (in Thai­land and zoos in Europe),” Withers said.

“We con­sider this fraud­u­lently mis­lead­ing.”

She said this had neg­a­tively af­fected her busi­ness, and could lead to job losses.

The doc­u­ment said the duo had found the NSPCA re­port “deeply flawed”, with text pla­gia­rised from sev­eral on­line sources.

“De­spite its in­tro­duc­tory claims that it is based on ‘ob­ser­va­tions and find­ings dur­ing in­spec­tions’, the NSPCA’s re­port… is not a re­port of in­spec­tion find­ings by the NSPCA at all, but rather a col­lec­tion of mas­sive gen­er­al­i­sa­tions in the form of text pla­gia­rised from var­i­ous sources,” it said.

Yes­ter­day a se­nior NSPCA in­spec­tor and an au­thor of the re­port, Is­abel Wentzel, said she was not sur­prised that the park was fo­cus­ing on the re­port.

“They would of course dis­pute it… They’re try­ing to di­vert at­ten­tion from the other mat­ter,” she said.

Wentzel said some in­for­ma­tion in the re­port had been taken from other sources, but had been ref­er­enced.

Some of the re­port was based on in­spec­tions at var­i­ous fa­cil­i­ties, and could not have been copied from any­where.

The row be­tween the park and the NSPCA started in May last year when the NSPCA lodged com­plaints about an­i­mal cru­elty against Ele­phants of Eden, which falls un­der the Knysna Ele­phant Park.

The NSPCA said it had got hold of video footage of “cruel and abu­sive train­ing meth­ods” used on young ele­phants.

The NSPCA said the di­rec­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions in Gra­ham­stown re­cently de­cided not to take the mat­ter fur­ther as he could not be per­suaded that the train­ing meth­ods con­sti­tuted cruel treat­ment or un­nec­es­sary tor­ture.

caryn.dol­ley@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: SUP­PLIED

RE­JECTED: Staff at the Knysna Ele­phant Park claim that the Na­tional So­ci­ety for the Preven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals (NSPCA) pla­gia­rised most of a re­port on the wel­fare of cap­tive ele­phants in South Africa. The claim comes af­ter the NSPCA ac­cused the park of abus­ing ele­phants, al­le­ga­tions the park de­nies.

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