Maritzburg Sun (South Africa)

Outrage over animals buried alive

- Shornè Bennie Maritzburg SUN

Residents and animal activists have condemned the practice of burying alive animals they see as a “nuisance".

Trapped in a dark hole, the animals suffocate slowly, with no escape.

Jackals are the latest victims of this and are sealed inside anthills.

Local residents and animal activists are demanding justice for these animals which are killed because they feed on crops or cattle.

A concerned Howick resident witnessed a jackal that managed to dig itself out of a covered hole on a farm in the Midlands. He said that that there is no justificat­ion for burying an animal alive. He said that due to it being breeding season for jackals between July and September, they are being buried alive with their offspring.

“I saw a man in a front-end loader covering up the anthills. It was as if he was closing them up systematic­ally. He did not even bother to stop and check the holes if there were any small animals in there. There are a lot of small animals which burrow and stay in these holes, especially during winter, to care for their young. A few days later, I watched a jackal digging itself out of the ground, it had red soil on it and then turned around and continued to dig at the hole in the ground. I realised that her pups must have been in there. An animal will only do that if her children are in there. They are buried deep, several metres under the ground,” said the resident.

The resident said there should be more effective ways to protect livestock and fresh produce from animals that are seen as problemati­c.

“There is an ecosystem for a reason. They form an important part of the ecosystem. Burying them alive won’t solve anything. Rather secure livestock and fence your property so that the jackals don’t get in".

The resident said that more should be done to bring awareness about the barbaric act of burying animals alive.

“Do people who do this have no conscience about burying an animal alive? It is a living being with children who are being buried. Those pups will be hungry and thirsty. They will suffocate undergroun­d. One won’t even be able to hear their cries as they are buried so deep. What is more shocking is that some of the people I spoke to didn’t seem bothered about what is going on. They didn’t seem to care or understand the plight of the animals and that is distressin­g,” said the resident.

Tammy Caine, a raptor specialist at FreeMe Wildlife, she said that burying animals alive is seen as animal cruelty and the perpetrato­rs can be prosecuted.

“It is animal cruelty to bury any animal alive. Those who are guilty can be prosecuted by the SPCA, NSPCA and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, as wildlife are seen as the property of the state. If there is a need to control problemati­c animals, then they need to contact Ezemvelo Wildlife, who will provide them with a permit to do so in a legal and ethical manner. There is no excuse for burying an animal alive.

"There is no question that this is immoral and the animals experience needless suffering. There is a lack of kindness and empathy and, as a result, there is suffering inflicted on another creature — which is appalling," said Caine.

Caine said FreeMe assists with rehabilita­ting "problemati­c animals". She urged people to get assistance as opposed to destroying animals inhumanely.

"We have relocated several caracal, serval and jackals to other areas and even rehabilita­ted them. It is better that the animals are moved or rehabilita­ted rather than being killed," said Caine.

She offered tips to those wanting to report incidents of animals being buried alive.

"Evidence is key when reporting that animals are being buried alive. It helps build a legal case. Ensure that you get the name and location of where it is happening. Also try your best to get images or videos. These incidents can be reported to the SPCA, NSPCA and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife," said Caine.

A former parks official and now consultant for wildlife conflict management and owner of a non-profit organisati­on, Wildlife Poisoning Prevention and Conflict Resolution, Tim Snow said more can be done to solve the issue of animals that are seen are problemati­c. He said that he has received previous complaints about farmers burying animals that are predators or seen as problemati­c.

"There should always be the question of, does this help to solve the problem? Yes, burying a jackal may allow for relief from the issues that they are causing but what about when they return to the area. Jackals are bound to return to the area where there were once other jackals. They will still cause issues. If a farmer is experienci­ng issues with jackals, then they should invest in securing their cattle and property, which may be more costly, but in the long run the farmer doesn't have to face loss every single time. To solve the issue, they must analyse the issue and then find a solution. There have been incidents where a proper solution has been found. At least one to seven jackals are born at a time and their survival is affected by disease, falling prey to other animals and starvation. This can affect their numbers,” said Snow.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife communicat­ions manager Musa Mntambo said that any form of cruelty towards domestic or wildlife animals can lead to the perpetrato­rs being prosecuted.

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