Dog starves due to Covid-19

) Dog starves due to Covid-19

Yoliswa Makalima, a resident from the Khayelitsha community, visited the Mdzananda Animal Clinic to hand her dog over. Her dog, a small Staffordshire bullterrier cross named Nonjana, was extremely skinny, spine and bones protruding. Yoliswa was handing her over because she had no money to feed her dog and wanted Nonjana to have a better life.

“She is such a sweet girl,” said Ms Makalima. “I really don’t want to let her go.”

Yoliswa lost her job due to Covid-19 restrictions and her income is down to zero. She is the only income earner in her household. She worked as a cashier at a grocery store. 

“We could see Yoliswa didn’t want to lose her dog. She clearly loved Nonjana. We decided to help her keep her dog,” says Marcelle du Plessis, Fundraising and Communications Manager of Mdzananda Animal Clinic.
The Clinic had received dog food donations specifically for people like Yoliswa. They gave her a bag of dog food and admitted Nonjana to their hospital for sterilisation, free of charge.

“We don’t usually offer free services,” says du Plessis, “but we will never turn a suffering pet away.”  At our clinic we charge just R150 for an operation. These operations can cost us anything from R350 to R5000. We believe that charging a small fee helps to create pet owner responsibility. If people are not able to pay that fee, we ask them for any financial contribution they are able to make.

Ms Makalima wanted to share her story so that she could be a voice for many animal lovers who find themselves in her situation.

The clinic reports that there are many people needing to hand their pets over due to losing their jobs or Covid-19 effects. Another example is that of Jazz and Gushani who were handed over because their owner died of Covid-19. They were very confused when they entered the shelter.“Covid-19 has been tough on everyone, including animal welfare organisations. It is thanks to individuals making donations that we can help pets like Nonjana, Jazz and Gushani,” says du Plessis.

The Mdzananda Animal Clinic is a non-profit veterinary clinic treating up to 1000 pets per month through consultations, hospitilisation, surgery, sterilisation, mobile clinics, an animal ambulance and pet adoptions. They have a strong focus on education and working with the community to create an environment where everyone cares for animals and sees them as companions. In October 2021 the clinic will be celebrating 25 years of existence.

If you would like to support their work a donation can be made to Mdzananda Animal Clinic, Standard Bank, Account number: 075595710, Branch: Rondebosch, Branch Code: 025009, Bank transit (SWIFT) Number: SBZAZAJJ, Savings account, Reference: Covid Help +Your Name. For more information or to adopt any of the stranded pets contact or visit

Source: Mdzananda Animal Clinic 

Call for vets to be included in Phase 2 of Covid-19 vaccine roll-out

Call for vets to be included in Phase 2 of Covid-19 vaccine roll-out

Cape Town – South Africa’s vets want to be included in the government’s national vaccine rollout plan citing professional safety concerns.

The South African Veterinarian Association (Sava), together with the Black Veterinary Forum (BVI), issued a request to the Departments of Health, and Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development for animal health and welfare workers to be added to the phased roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine, citing professional safety concerns.

Dr Leon de Bruyn, chief executive of the association, said the sector had not been considered.

“It’s been problematic,” he explained. “We’ve had two colleagues pass on a week ago. We had a husband and wife veterinary team pass away late last year. Quite a few of our clinic and health workers have been affected. We obviously try and maintain social distancing and wear our masks to a point, but we are integral in food supply. We are the custodians of animal welfare. A lot of that entails being in relative proximity to the people handling the animals. There is a risk, there’s no doubt about that.”

The association cited the government’s plan released which breaks down the phases in which vaccinations are prioritised to different groups. Phase one of the plan will include health care workers identified according to different risk categories, while phase two lists other essential workers, people in congregate settings, persons aged 60 and older, and persons aged 18 and older with comorbidities. Though having been classified as essential workers during the lockdown, animal health care and welfare workers are not listed in the phase two rollout.

“We fully understand that the human healthcare workers should be vaccinated in phase one, but we certainly should fall under the essential workers in phase two,” De Bruyn said. “We understand if that’s an oversight, if they didn’t necessarily think of everyone when they were drawing up that document.”

De Bruyn added their request had been acknowledged by the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development, but they had received no response from the health department.

Health Department spokesperson Popo Maja said the list of essential workers in the published roll-out plan was not yet concluded, and they were still learning from countries that had already commenced their vaccine roll-outs.

“Everyone is included in the vaccine roll-out plan,” he said. “It is a matter of prioritising frontline health workers. In that category, health workers who interact with patients directly and daily will be prioritised. Animal healthcare workers are important. And their concerns are considered. We learn as we go. None of us have any experience in the roll-out of a vaccination programme of this magnitude.”

Groups such as the Animal Welfare Society of South Africa have had to introduce strict protocols to avoid infections.

“At the society, we’ve had very strict protocols since we started,” said society chief executive and practising veterinarian Dr John McMullen. “We see about 300 people every weekend from anywhere in Cape Town and the Cape metropole. Somebody goes outside and makes everybody fill out a form, asking if they had been in contact with anybody and before we even consider seeing their animal. We only allow one person at a time into the facility and consulting rooms.”

McMullen noted the lives of fellow veterinarians he knew had been lost to the pandemic. “We are regarded as an essential service and have been since lockdown,” he said. “We have worked right through. There is a great danger in the frontline.”

Other groups, such as the Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha, have had to implement half-staff rotations to protect its volunteers.

“This was done so that, if one staff member got infected and the team needed to isolate, the other half staff team could take over,” said fundraising and communications manager Michelle du Plessis. “This was to ensure the clinic would never need to close as this would be detrimental to the animals and pet owners. This, however, had a large impact on our staff as it was half a team working with more pet patients than normal.”

The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) backed the call by Sava for workers to be vaccinated.

“Animal care workers place themselves on the frontline just as other essential workers, even in level five of the lockdown,” said NSPCA spokesperson Keshvi Nair. “Animals cannot be left to suffer, therefore, we must place ourselves at risk to stop that suffering and should be afforded that protection when it becomes available so we can continue to do our work.”

Tamsin Nel, founder of the South Africa Mass Sterilisation Trust (SA.MAST) clinic in Khayelitsha, said the possibility of omission was disappointing, but not surprising.

“It is the brave men and woman working in the veterinary and animal welfare sector who prevent a myriad of debilitating conditions from infecting the general population, the majority of which, if they were to suffer from a zoonotic disease or infection, would seek medical intervention from already overwhelmed state run and funded clinics and hospitals,” Nel said.

“As a country, we are already suffering from a critical shortage of veterinary staff and this will only get worse if our leaders continue to underestimate the positive health and safety role we play in South Africa.”

Source: IOL

RSPCA issues warning after animals found entangled in disposable face mask straps

RSPCA issues warning after animals found entangled in disposable face mask straps

Animals worldwide are being found with surgical masks wrapped around their legs.(Supplied: RSPCA England And Wales)

The RSPCA is urging people to “snip the straps” on disposable face masks after an ibis was found entangled in Brisbane.

With masks mandatory in Greater Brisbane until 12:01am Friday, more people have been using and disposing of personal protective equipment (PPE) face masks.

The RSPCA said throwing the masks away is not enough and they are asking people to cut the elastic straps that hold the masks in place.

Senior rescue unit officer Jo Jordaan said she responded to a report over the weekend, but she was unable to locate the bird.

“I was called out to an ibis at the art gallery at South Brisbane and it had ended up with the mask around its feet,” she said.

“It must have just walked through the mask and unfortunately it’s tangled around itself and hasn’t been able to free itself.”

The RSPCA said the issue is widespread in the United Kingdom, and they are worried more animals will become entangled in Australia.

“Sadly one is too many, but we’ve been getting increasing calls as of late,” Ms Jordaan said.

“Just like other parts of the world it is very disturbing that our wildlife is starting to be impacted by these surgical masks.”

RSPCA issues warning after animals found entangled in disposable face mask straps

RSPCA is pleading for people to cut the straps on disposable face masks after use.(ABC Gold Coast: Tom Forbes)

RSPCA issues warning after animals found entangled in disposable face mask straps

Fishing line threat

Rowley Goonan operates Wild Bird Rescues Gold Coast and said he responds to around 150 entanglements annually.

The rescuer said the birds most commonly entangled include ibis, magpies, pigeons, and seagulls.

“The greatest entangling material on the Gold Coast is discarded fishing line,” he said.

“When fishers are doing a re-rig and cut off a length of line, if they carelessly drop that on the ground instead of disposing of it in a bin, then any species of bird walking through that area is likely to become entangled.”

Mr Goonan said human hair is a very common material found entangled in smaller birds.

“If someone brushes long hair and then drops the brushings on the ground, or out of a car window, any of the foraging small birds can get that hair caught around their toes or feet,” said the rescuer.

“It will tighten and it will literally cut them off.”

The RSPCA said if someone finds a bird entangled they should try and catch it and take it to their nearest vet or wildlife hospital for treatment.

“Anyone can all 1300 ANIMAL and we can put you in contact with the nearest rescuer in your local area,” Ms Jordaan said.


Okavango Delta under threat from oil, gas exploration

BOTSWANA – 2019/12/14: A group of Yellow-billed storks (Mycteria ibis) in the Gomoti Plains area, a community run concession, on the edge of the Gomoti river system southeast of the Okavango Delta, Botswana. ReconAfrica has acquired rights to explore more than 35 000 square kilometres in the Okavango Delta watershed, a Unesco-designated World Heritage Site.

Q7 Beckett has travelled through South Africa on foot before, but for the indigenous San youth leader, his latest 1 500km protest walk is his most important: saving the Okavango Delta, Africa’s last intact wetland wilderness, from major oil and gas development.

On 1 February, Beckett, joined by a group of San indigenous leaders and supporters, left Knysna for the Namibian consulate in Cape Town. 

On Monday, they will hand over a petition from the San First People of southern Africa objecting to ReconAfrica, a Canadian oil and gas firm, to which Namibia and Botswana have given the green light to scour the Kavango Basin in the Kalahari desert for oil and gas. The petition is being sent to the Botswana government.

“As the custodians of this land for thousands of years and the rightful current inhabitants, we’ve never been consulted, nor have we given the go-ahead to any entities to prospect for oil and gas,” it reads. 

Prospecting and consequent production will irrevocably damage and transform the fragile ecosystem on which the San depend. 

The fight for cultural survival resonates with Beckett, whose roots can be traced to the region. “We are matriarch-led, and I grew up with all these grannies from that area, learning how to make medicine, how to heal people and play the bow instrument … Drilling for oil and gas will bring devastation to these communities.”

What’s at stake

ReconAfrica has acquired rights to explore more than 35 000 square kilometres in the Okavango Delta watershed, a Unesco-designated World Heritage Site. 

According to the firm’s consulting geochemist Daniel Jarvie on its website, drilling in the Kavango Basin is a no-brainer. “Given the nature of this basin and the tremendous thickness, it will be productive, and I’m expecting high-quality oil.”

Last month, ReconAfrica started exploratory drilling operations on the first of three test boreholes in Kawe, in the ephemeral Omatako riverbed in Namibia. 

Opponents say the hunt for oil and gas threatens vital waterways in Namibia and the Okavango Delta’s arid savannas, home to the world’s largest elephant population and vast numbers of endangered wildlife. The exploration licence area falls within the newly-proclaimed Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier area, while the biodiversity-rich Okavango river basin is a crucial water source for over a million people. 

‘No negative impacts on Okavango ecosystem’

Namibia says the proposed exploration activities “will not cause any negative impacts” to the Okavango ecosystem as they are not connected to the proposed drilling locations. 

The firm’s exploration licence area originally included the Tsodilo Hills, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Unesco is following the exploration projects “with attention and concern”.

This week, Botswana’s government stated that the exploration licence does not cover the “core and buffer zones” for the “treasured” Okavango Delta and the Tsodilo Hills Heritage Sites.

Fracking fears

ReconAfrica’s marketing material refers to conventional and unconventional methods; the latter includes hydraulic fracturing or fracking, designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock. Public investor documents describe how the basin’s Permian petroleum system supports “large-scale unconventional and conventional plays”.

Frack Free Namibia & Botswana says it’s crucial to emphasise that ReconAfrica’s ultimate intention is to explore the basin to determine the presence of shale-based oil and gas. “This fact has been displayed prominently in their presentations to investors as well as in their employment of senior personnel with extensive fracking experience.”

ReconAfrica is made up of the who’s who of global fracking, says a conservationist. “These people mean business and are just getting started at the end of the fossil fuel age.”

Okavango Delta under threat from oil, gas exploration

(John McCann/M&G)

‘We won’t be fracking.’

ReconAfrica spokesperson Claire Preece says its geological and stratigraphic testing well programme is for conventional oil. “ReconAfrica is not fracking. Conventional oil and gas production uses vertical wells, no fracking and very little water. The Kavango is a new sedimentary basin, and like all other hydrocarbon basins, conventional production is the focus.” 

Both Namibia and Botswana are concerned about “misleading” information over plans to start fracking “as this does not form part of the approved programme of exploration”.

Andy Gheorghiu, of Saving Okavango’s Unique Life, says ReconAfrica will need to conduct at least one fracking operation at the end of the exploration phase to decide whether it’s worth entering the production phase.

“During the envisaged 25-year production period, the large-scale extraction of shale oil … will not be possible without the extensive use of fracking and the successive industrialisation of the licensed areas.”

He says that fracking involves massive freshwater consumption and competition with drinking water needs and irrigation; potential water contamination from fracking chemicals and the disposal of highly toxic wastewater, air pollution, a significant contribution to global warming and possible induced seismicity through the underground injection of wastewater.

‘Wrecking’ the climate

Opponents, among them David van Wyk of the Benchmarks Foundation, have sent letters to the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise. “It’s with great sadness that we see predatory Canadian corporations invading various parts of Africa, including some with the most fragile and sensitive ecosystems, to carry on activities that will harm the climate and the environment,” it reads.

Botswana and Namibia are signatories to the Paris Climate Agreement, says the San petition. “Should the Kavango basin yield the 120-billion barrels of oil equivalent predicted by Jarvie, this equates to about five billion tonnes of carbon dioxide: a climate-wrecking project.” 

Together, Botswana and Namibia emit around 13-million tons of carbon annually. 

Climate change impacts are much more significant for southern Africa, “compared to countries in the north that will benefit from the profits”. The San have been displaced and scattered to some of the most inhospitable, unbearably hot environments in southern Africa and “even hotter temperatures would prevent habitation”.

Water risks

Dr Surina Engelbrecht, a geohydrologist at the University of the Free State, is concerned how oil and gas exploration could affect groundwater in the shallow water tables of the Omatako river basin. Aquifers in arid areas cannot be cleaned once contaminated, she stresses.

The Okavango river basin is still relatively pristine, but oil and gas extraction could affect groundwater levels and contaminate surface water and groundwater resources, eventually reaching the Okavango Delta.

“The poor environmental impact assessment procedures that were followed and the apparent lack of a regional water resources baseline before allowing oil and gas exploration, point to a serious lack of understanding of the possible negative environmental effects … in this sensitive region.”

But Preece says the water management plan is focused on aquifer protection and management, surface water and drainage management and “project no-go buffer zones are implemented proactively”. 

Project ‘will bring development’

ReconAfrica and the Namibian government say the development of a successful oil and gas industry will provide jobs, energy independence, community water wells and infrastructure.

Max Muyemburuko, the chairperson of Kavango East and West Regional Conservancy and Community Forestry Association, says locals remain “in the dark” about the project. “We depend on hunting, conservation and tourism, which are under threat.”

‘Nonsense and stupidity’

In an email, last month, ReconAfrica’s environmental assessment practitioner Dr Sindila Myiwa described concerns raised by Muyemburuko about the potential impacts of oil and gas exploration as “stupid” and “nonsense”. 

Muyemburuko had “zero experience in training in oil and gas exploration” but now sought to be an “overnight expert”, he said.

Public meetings for its planned 2D seismic testing programme have been well attended, and local communities “fully support the developments being proposed in their areas”. 

On 4 February, the WWF Namibia published a full-page statement in The Namibian and New Era, calling for a transboundary strategic environmental assessment before further exploratory drilling is approved. 

Significant political and economic difficulties could ensue if it is discovered late in the process that there are potentially serious risks to biodiversity, water security and local communities’ welfare.

Source: Mail & Guardian

Top dogs brought in to sniff out KZN’s rhino poachers

Top dogs brought in to sniff out KZN's rhino poachers

Two dogs have been introduced by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to boost the fight against rhino poachers. Image: Supplied

KwaZulu-Natal wildlife authorities have brought out their top dogs — literally — to protect their rhinos.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife this week announced that it had formed a dog unit — in partnership with several individuals and organisations — in the hope it will not only protect the endangered animals but also help to catch poachers before they strike.

“The K9 unit has adopted a proactive approach to apprehend poachers before they poach rhinos. Some of the operational expectations regarding this unit is that it is used to intercept poaching groups before they shoot rhino,” Ezemvelo said in a statement.

“The unit also needs to align well with other law-enforcement agencies that are actively involved in combating rhino poaching.”

Dennis Kelly, a section ranger of Ezemvelo’s Hluhluwe/iMfolozi Park (HiP) said: “The use of canines is a very effective tool and has been used successfully in Kruger and in other parts of Africa.”

Top dogs brought in to sniff out KZN's rhino poachers

Ezemvelo says it has already recorded several successes since it brought in the dogs. Image: Supplied

Dogs are useful in many ways for law enforcement. Their noses — which have 50 times more scent receptors than human noses — are their most valuable tool, allowing them to follow and detect specific scents. This is of crucial importance in combating ever-determined and evolving poaching teams which have become more sophisticated and can easily hide their tracks once they are inside protected areas.”

This dog unit has two handlers, and two “cold scent” dogs which are doberman and bloodhound crosses. These dogs have the ability to follow scents which are up to eight hours old.

Having the dogs on the premises is already yielding results.

“They have carried out numerous interventions which have resulted in three notable successes with three arrests and a number of poaching groups interrupted before they have poached a rhino,” said Ezemvelo.

The dogs’ arrival follows Ezemvelo’s introduction of a hi-tech early detection system known as Smart Park. It alerts authorities based at an operational command centre of any unusual movement. Just like the K9 unit, this system, which uses camera traps and detection fences, was formed courtesy of various partnerships.

Ezemvelo hopes to expand its unit and that these dogs can be used for further tasks, including detection of weapons and animal products at the park entrances and exits.

Source: Times Live

When dogs bark, are they using words to communicate?

Image: Pixabay

Does your dog bark a lot? Or is he one of those quiet pooches who barks only when things get really exciting? Most dogs bark at least a little.

Dog barks are not words. But although your dog will never tell you about his parents or the weather or the amazing bone he had yesterday, his barks still communicate important information.

Dog barks are much closer to the noises people make when they accidentally hit their thumb with a hammer – “Ow!” – or open a fantastic present – “Wow!” These sounds convey how someone feels, but not why they feel that way. When other people hear these kinds of sounds, they often come over to see what has happened: How did you hurt yourself? What is this wonderful gift you received?

All dogs, even the tiniest chihuahua, are descended from great grey wolvesWolves almost never barkThey howl. Sometimes dogs howl too – but howling is rarer in dogs. Understanding why wolves howl and dogs bark helps explain what barking is for.

A howl can be a beautiful sound – almost like a kind of music. And, just as group singing brings people together, so too does group howling help a pack of wolves feel united.

Dog barking also brings groups together – but it’s not a beautiful sound. It is a much more urgent noise, just like the sounds you make when you are hurt or very pleased. Many smaller animals, like scrub jays, meerkats and California ground squirrels, make such noisy sounds. They do this when they feel frightened by something. In dogs, barking can bring a group together to defend against a danger that can’t be coped with alone.

Wolves don’t need to make sounds like this because they are big and fearsome and don’t often feel threatened. Dogs, on the other hand, are much smaller and weaker than their wolf ancestors – and often need to call the group together.

Image: Pixabay

This is why dogs bark. They are calling their group to get help with something they are not confident they can handle on their own. This doesn’t mean a barking dog is always frightened. He may just be very excited. He badly needs the family to know that there is a stranger coming to the door, or another dog coming close to the house.

Your dog’s barks may not be words, but he probably barks a little differently depending on what kind of thing has got him excited. If you listen closely, you may find you can tell the difference between a bark directed at a package deliverer and one directed toward a friend at the door. The bark to a passing dog may be different than the bark at a passing car.

Your dog doesn’t understand much of what you say, but he listens hard to try to make sense of human language. If you return the compliment and listen hard to his sounds, you may find you can also understand him better, and the two of you will have a richer life together.

Source: The Conversation

Montego’s premium Karoo range expands to Cat food

 Montego’s premium Karoo range expands to Cat food

Montego Pet Nutrition is excited to announce the expansion of the Karoo range to a whole new cat-agory! Introducing Karoo Cat and Kitten, the newest addition to Karoo’s family of super-premium, limited ingredient recipes that is sure to make your cat purr with pleasure.

The new Karoo Cat range is made with hearty and nutritious ingredients, vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, and high levels of antioxidants for an optimally balanced diet. The Montego Karoo Cat range contains up to 36% protein, which helps build and repair fur, skin, claws, and muscle.

Now our feline friends can enjoy the super-premium quality of Karoo that many have come to know and love. Made with real ingredients and containing flavours of chicken, lamb, and rice.

“We are so excited about the new Karoo Cat range and have kept to our standard of manufacturing products with the highest quality ingredients, giving pets a complete and balanced meal. The health and well-being of pets remain a priority to us, and that is why we are committed to providing products that cater to all their nutritional needs in new, innovative ways,” said Wilfred Cawood, Marketing Manager at Montego.

The Karoo Cat range comes in 2kg-4kg bags for kittens and 2kg-10kg bags for adult cats, from R 175.00. Visit for more information.

Source: Montego


#BeMyValentine – Homeless pets offering love

#BeMyValentine – Homeless pets offering love

Pictures: Ballito and Mamsie

It’s the month of love and the Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha is encouraging members of the public to show some love to homeless pets in need. Their #BeMyValentine campaign features dogs and cats up for adoption looking for sponsorship to make their Valentine’s day a happy one.  

“Valentine’s Day has become an extremely commercialised event with people spending large amounts of money on gifts, chocolates and flowers. This year we are encouraging people to allow a homeless pet to be their Valentine by sponsoring them and showing them some love,” says Marcelle du Plessis, Fundraising and Communications Manager.

If you’re feeling out of love this Valentine’s month, head over to Mdzananda’s website or Facebook page to meet their tail wagging bachelors and sassy bachelorettes which you can sponsor.

BeMyValentine – Homeless pets offering love

If you would like to sponsor a pet for Valentine’s Day visit to see all the pets needing sponsorship, contact or make a donation to Mdzananda Animal Clinic, Standard Bank, Account number: 075595710, Branch: Rondebosch, Branch Code: 025009, Reference: Pet’sName +YourName. All pets are also up for adoption.

About Mdzananda Animal Clinic (

The Mdzananda Animal Clinic is a permanent, veterinary council registered, NPO animal clinic in Khayelitsha, a township just outside of Cape Town, South Africa, home to 400 000 people (2011 census) and their pets. The clinic serves an average of 700 animals per month through consultations, hospitalization, general and orthopaedic surgeries, continuous sterilizations, mobile clinics and an animal ambulance. Mdzananda has a strong focus on community empowerment and education to ensure responsible pet ownership into the future.

Source: Mdzananda Animal Clinic

Vaccinating your best four legged friend: The Pros and Cons

Vaccinating your best four legged friend: The Pros and Cons

We all love our domestic pets and only want what is best for them. But love, food, shelter and cuddles aren’t all that they need. They are at risk from a variety of potentially dangerous diseases or illnesses which can be avoided through the use of essential vaccinations recommended by all vets.

Not only can the owner protect the well-being of the animal, be it a cat, dog or other common household pet, but it can be a significant means of avoiding potentially costly treatments, which may be necessary for our furry friends if they are not protected by the vaccines. Certain diseases such as rabies can even be passed from the animal to humans if the pet is not properly vaccinated, so it is a critical way of protecting the family too, especially children.

There are a variety of ways in which a vaccine can be administered to the animal by a qualified vet including through intramuscular or subcutaneous injections. Such vaccinations have been proven to have saved the lives of millions of domestic animals during the last century alone. The basic purpose of a vaccination is to allow the immune system to produce antibodies which fight against the spread of bacteria or viruses within the body without causing the disease itself. The body thus “remembers” the infectious agent for which it has been vaccinated.

There are two principle types of vaccinations: core vaccinations which are necessary for all domestic pets, and non-core or “lifestyle-based” vaccinations, which are only necessary depending on the living circumstances of the animal, for example if it has to spend time in a kennel surrounded by other potentially diseased pets. Whilst certain vaccinations need only be administered once, others must be repeated at particular intervals.

Some vaccines are a legal requirement, such as that against rabies. Puppies should be given a “combination vaccine” three times in the first year of its life and in some cases once a year thereafter (also referred to as “booster” shots). Amongst other illnesses which affect dogs this combination provides protection against “cat-flu” (parvovirus), a deadly virus which affects dogs younger than one year of age, Parainfluenza (an upper airway disease), Bordetella (also known as “kennel cough”) and Leptospirosis which can cause liver and kidney disease. On the other hand, the combination

vaccines for cats on the other hand protect against such diseases as Rhinotracheitis (eye and respiratory infections) and Chlamydiosis which causes pneumonia and can even be passed on to humans.

The risks which can be posed by certain vaccinations are not very common but in some cases, animals have displayed symptoms of allergies such as pain or swelling at the point of the injection and occasionally cats have been found to develop tumors due to particular vaccines. To avoid the dangers of over-vaccinating your vet can perform a “titer” which is a blood test that determines whether your animal is still protected by a previous vaccine.

It is critical to the health of domestic pets and their owners to make regular visits to a trusted vet and to ensure that all precautionary vaccinations are administered. This allows a greater peace of mind and enjoyable life for all. If necessary one can contact SAVA (the South African Veterinary Association), a voluntary association for registered veterinarians which represents more than 60% of all vets in South Africa.

For more information, please visit the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) website, Facebook or Twitter page.

Source: South African Veterinary Association

No shade, no company, no exercise – that’s no life for sad elephant Charlie

Charlie in captivity at the Pretoria Zoo. Photo: Unita Hanekom

Charlie in captivity at the Pretoria Zoo. Photo: Unita Hanekom

Specialists from around the world have petitioned Environment Minister Barbara Creecy to release into a sanctuary a Pretoria Zoo elephant bereaved by the loss of partners and offspring and showing signs of stress.

Charlie leans against a rock, listless, bored and unstimulated. There’s no space for him to exercise (wild elephants travel huge distances) and no enrichment equipment. He suffers from colic, unknown in free elephants.

In his sandy, desert-like enclosure at the Pretoria Zoo, he has witnessed the death of his female companions and his young son, Deneo. Alone, he has the form of an elephant, but without the touch and communication of a herd he’s hardly an elephant at all.

In an open letter to Environment Minister Barbara Creecy, eminent elephant specialists, including vets, lawyers, conservationists, traditional leaders, animal welfare specialists, scientists and heads of environmental organisations in SA, Pakistan, India, the United States, Botswana, Kenya, Canada and Zimbabwe have appealed for his release into the care and community of a sanctuary. The EMS Foundation has offered to fund his move to a sanctuary and his upkeep.

According to Smaragda Louw, director of Ban Animal Trading (BAT), keeping Charlie in solitary confinement in a barren enclosure with almost no shade and dirty water and with no enrichment is “nothing more than animal abuse for the sake of human entertainment”.

“At least, while his partner Landa was still alive, Charlie had company. There is absolutely nothing educational about this ‘display’ of an African elephant. How this is supposed to contribute to the conservation of African elephants is a mystery.”

“I had the feeling he’s just given up,” said Unita Hanekom of BAT, who took the photographs. “There’s very little shade and only a few boulders. It’s a bleak place.”

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has acknowledged the open letter and says it “will give it consideration following appropriate scientific advice”. Yet, in an answer to a parliamentary question, Creecy stated: “The South African National Biodiversity Institute’s National Zoological Garden is currently considering options as to whether to find a companion for our one remaining elephant.”

Charlie was captured in Hwange, Zimbabwe, 40 years ago and was trained in the Boswell Wilkie Circus. When it closed down he was transferred to the Natal Lion Park then, in 2001, to the Pretoria Zoo. There he mated with Pumbi but her calf, Deneo, died shortly after birth, followed by Pumbi a year later.

She was replaced by Landa, who died in October 2020 aged only 36 – young for an elephant, which can live to 60 or 70 in the wild. A postmortem found her colon was blocked from eating sand.

Colic from sand ingestion also caused the death in 2017 of Kinkel, an elephant held at the Johannesburg Zoo. After he died, his companion, Lammie, displayed severe stress behaviour and a campaign to free her into a sanctuary was launched. A petition to free Lammie obtained 270,000 signatures. Instead the zoo acquired two new wild-caught elephants.

According to the petition to Creecy, co-ordinated by the Pro-Elephant Network (PREN), “What these elephants are being fed does not come close to their natural diet in the wild. This is indeed an additional form of abuse. Eating sand could be an attempt to satisfy the mineral imbalances. It is a management issue.”

Keeping elephants in zoos is being challenged around the world. It is increasingly acknowledged that it is unacceptable and cruel to remove animals from their natural habitats and break up social units for the amusement of zoo visitors or in the name of research. Zoos deprive elephants of their most basic needs, resulting in a high mortality rate. It’s recognised that they cannot survive in near or complete isolation.

“The history of elephants in zoos in South Africa,” says the petition, “is one of extreme exploitation, violence and death, which saw baby elephants, mainly between the ages of two and seven, violently removed from their mothers and families, who were often killed in front of them during culling.”

PREN says elephant-care standards in South African zoos “are woefully inadequate, unethical and untenable. We are extremely concerned about whether the zoo can adequately care for Charlie.

“He has witnessed the deaths of a number of elephants in his enclosure. A growing body of scientific evidence supports the idea that non-human animals are aware of death, can experience grief and will sometimes mourn for their dead.”

There are about 1,500 formal and many more informal zoos in the world holding three to four million wild animals. Some do well in good zoos, but elephants are not among them. For every calf born in a zoo, on average another two die. This is almost three times the mortality rate in the wild. In US zoos, 76 elephants have died since 2ooo, half of them before age 40. Nearly half of that country’s captive elephants display atypical behaviour such as swaying, rocking and placing vegetation or food on their heads.

If an institution’s yardstick is to do no harm to these animals – and it should be – elephants are beyond a zoo’s capability. They are highly social, live in close family groups and move large distances in search of a great range of foods that cannot be replicated when in captivity. This is increasingly being acknowledged by zoo management.

Since 2000, 37 zoos in Europe have closed their elephant exhibits, including London’s Regent’s Park, because they could not provide “appropriate facilities for such large, far-roaming, intelligent animals”.

In the Pretoria Zoo, Charlie is showing the typical behaviour of a stressed elephant. According to PREN, keeping him incarcerated “is the very antithesis of celebrating South Africa’s biodiversity. It is not conservation in any shape or form. His housing is simply atrocious. The fact that Charlie is now alone is making the situation even worse and this is not acceptable.”

The report of a parliamentary committee oversight visit to the National Zoological Gardens in 2018 has not been released.

The coalition has asked Creecy to intervene and support Charlie’s removal to a sanctuary. 

Source: Daily Maverick