Thursday, 25 January 2007

Statement on the wild elephant capture by Shearwater

Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ZNSPCA)
As our only concern is the welfare of animals and the enforcement of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, ZNSPCA has patiently remained silent in the midst of a barrage of defamatory press releases, whilst at the same time having received letters from Atherstone & Cook, on instruction from Shearwater, threatening to bring charges of malicious prosecution against the Society.

In response to reports of possible cruelty taking place during the capture of 12 wild elephants in Hwange Game Reserve, which was witnessed by visitors to the park, ZNSPCA initiated an investigation.

On 11 January 2007 on a follow-up visit to Victoria Falls to check on the reported improved conditions for the elephants, the ZNSPCA Inspectors were denied access to the elephants. A charge of obstruction has been laid against Shearwater.

In order to be fair and reasonable and in order to give Shearwater time to improve conditions and the opportunity to allow ZNSPCA Inspectors to check on the alleged improved condition of the elephant, although Inspectors are not required to have such permission, we have waited 7 days in order for permission to be granted and have withheld making any statements to the press in this regard at the behest of Shearwater. It is therefore most regrettable that permission has not been granted.

We have heard that there have been apparent improvements in the condition of the elephant and the boma, but our Inspectors are unable to ascertain if this is true.
This is the first instance where our Inspectors have ever been denied access to premises housing wildlife in captivity. It is the duty of SPCA Inspectors to ensure the welfare of any wild animal in captivity.

In addition, Shearwater refers to a report by two veterinarians that was CONFIDENTIAL and not for release to the media. Regrettably Shearwater has breached that confidence and has been selective in quoting from the report.

Many remarks contained in that report clearly indicate that in our opinion cruelty was taking place at the time of report.

Our Inspectors will continue to conduct their duties in this regard without fear or favour, in spite of being subjected to verbal abuse and insults, having their every move monitored and all other efforts to discredit their motives which have been appearing in the media.

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