Bloemfontein, South Africa
22 June 2007 01:47
Two game farmers with tape measures in hand say Free State authorities break their own rules for housing confiscated wildlife, including lions, Volksblad newspaper reported on Friday.
The two arrived at holding pens at the Soetdoring Nature Reserve outside Bloemfontein where five lions, four caracals and two serval cats were kept. They had been confiscated from the men because their enclosures were too small.
The farmers wanted “to show the world the department [of environmental affairs] does not keep to its own regulations and keeps animals in enclosures and camps that are too small”.
Gideon Odendaal of Rouxville owns the five lions that had been kept in an enclosure of 136 square metres over the past year, and which were moved after pressure from the media this week. Sarel Wessels of Kroonstad owns the caracals and other cats.
The two men also measured the Bloemfontein zoo enclosures for lions.
“We heard there were 17 lions [at the zoo], but counted only 14. They are held in 200 square metres, while according to the department’s regulations they should be held in 8,5ha.”
The two farmers said the department violated its own regulations, did not treat everybody the same and “harassed” some farmers.
Free State department of environmental affairs spokesperson Kgotso Tau said: “Individuals should stop kicking up dust and dramatising and start keeping to rules and regulations.”
He said people who do not keep to the regulations will be prosecuted. “They must learn from the many others who, without problems, continue farming,” he was quoted. — Sapa