As South Africans, we failed the 30 euthanised lions – Bloemfontein SPCA
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Pretoria – SPCA inspectors in Free State are reeling in devastation from the discovery of heavily suffering lions, and 30 of the big cats had to be euthanised as they were in a deplorable state of neglect, burnt and bruised.
Wildfires have ravaged parts of the Free State, and according to Bloemfontein SPCA chairperson Thea Smit, teams had to comb the vast area, offering help to affected farm and animal owners.
“Bloemfontein SPCA is proactive and combed the affected areas for any animals that may have burnt but still alive. The Farm Olivia falls within the district that was affected by the fires. Our inspectors could see, as they combed the area, that Farm Olivia was also affected,” said Smit.
The Bloemfontein SPCA requested to enter the farm in an attempt to assist with any animals that may have been affected by the fire, but the requests were denied.
“The inspectors were denied entrance, which obviously was a huge concern. We knew there were animals, and we had to get in to make sure that no animal was suffering as a result of the scorching flames. We proceeded to obtain a warrant to enter the farm,” she explained.
“Once we entered, a soul-destroying discovery left us heartbroken. Lions, unable to move, as a result of injuries sustained during the fire, glaring at us with what we experienced as hopeless eyes.”
Smit described the lions they discovered at the farm as “burnt, bruised, starved and neglected”.
“There was no way that we were going to turn our backs on these big cats that were failed by humans to enrich themselves. Lion farming and breeding is a greedy and cruel industry. Captive bred, to be shot, and when there are no hunters or buyers for their bones, be tortured by raging flames that they cannot escape from,” the conservationist decried.
“How can this be acceptable? We have failed these animals as a country. The worst thing that ever happened to these majestic animals was the legalisation of their captivity that leads to over breeding and cruel hunting.
Shining additional light on the dark sector of animal hunting, Smit said when the lions are raised for that gruesome purpose cannot be hunted, “they are often slaughtered in the most inhumane ways to harvest their bones and sell them to a market that has a complete distorted perception of what they are buying and using”.
“Adding on top of the raging fires, then you can clearly see that these lions have a heartbreaking fate. When they cannot be hunted or their bones harvested, they are rendered useless with no monetary value,” said Smit.
“It is all about the lack of moral compasses and the greed of money.”
In total, the Bloemfontein SPCA inspectors found 59 lions on the enclosure, of which 30 had to be “humanely euthanised to end further suffering” after veterinary assessments.
“Had we not intervened and used the little resources we have to help these lions, they would still be on the farm, dying a slow, suffering and starving death. Some of them suffered wounds to their mouths, faces, paws and body. To an extent that, even when fed, would not have been able to eat,” said Smit.
“Even if given the opportunity to escape, they would not have been able to move. Their paws were so badly burnt that they tumbled to the ground when attempted to get up.”
The Bloemfontein said a case of cruelty to animals under the Animal Protection Act has been prepared and will be presented in court.
Smit said the Free State Department of Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA) had been notified of the case.