Sav­ing in­jured animals

The Sunday Independent - - METRO - MPUMI KIVA

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”.

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