VIDEOS: Uproar after white tigers snapped next to crèche. But getting your own one is not that difficult we discover
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Imagine stepping outside to check on the kids and seeing a huge white tiger peering over the fence at the group of children.
This is exactly what happened to teachers at a small crèche in Boksburg.
Teachers were shocked to learn that the schools’ neighbours have been keeping not one but two fully grown white tigers on their property, metres away from young children with only a seemingly low fence preventing the big cats from jumping over.
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The owners of the daycare told media reporters that since spotting the tigers, playtime on that side of the premises has been stopped with some parents even pulling their kids out of the creche for concerns over the safety of their children.
“That fence is not high enough and the tigers will jump. If they don’t jump into our school, they will jump into our other neighbour's house and, just across the road, there is an old age home. There are approximately four schools in this street, so this is a danger to everyone living in the area,” the owners told reporters.
The owners of the creche approached their tiger-loving neighbours as well as the SPCA and local councillor to try and address the situation but found no joy.
Matthew and Anneline Kruger had apparently complied with all the regulations in Gauteng regarding the keeping of exotic animals on their premises.
The social media of Annelise Kruger, one of the big cat owners, is plastered with images and videos of the two tigers playing on the jungle gym, diving in their plastic pool and on a bed, sleeping next to Kruger.
Local animal welfare organisation, Four Paws was made aware of the issue last week.
Four Paws Director, Fiona Miles said “tigers have very little protection under SA law, despite being considered an endangered species. This is particularly true in Gauteng, where such cases of private keeping are prevalent.” The main reason, currently, for the lack of protection of tigers is that they are not indigenous to South Africa and do not hold the same protective rights as other native big cats such as lions, leopards or cheetahs.
According to Four Paws, there are around 1 500 tigers kept in captivity in SA, though there are fewer than 4 000 left in the wild.
So how does a person come to own a tiger?
Surprisingly, the process is not that difficult. The requirements to own any exotic animal in Gauteng is set by Nature Conservation, a division of the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
According to the Gauteng government website, “All persons or companies who import, export, trade-in, keep, possess, collect, pick, convey, transport or hunt listed wild animals and wild plants in Gauteng must apply for permits with the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nature Conservation.”
All you really need to do is complete the correct application form, pay the relevant fees and you would most likely be granted a permit within 15 working days.
White tigers are not snow tigers or a different species of a tiger as many believe.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, “white tigers aren’t an endangered species, their white coat is simply the result of a genetic anomaly which doesn't require conservation.
And as long as captive facilities continue to supply tigers, their parts and products into the illegal trade which fuels the demand for tiger products, wild tigers will always be at risk.”