“Abandoned their duties in caring for state-owned game, in so doing placing an additional burden on already struggling farmers”
GAME and tortoises have become the latest victims of the drought in the Northern Cape.
The Beaufort West SPCA were last week alerted to the condition of game at the old Victoria West game reserve, which has now become commonage land.
“During their inspection on Tuesday last week, the SPCA found several carcases and insufficient water for the approximately 275 surviving animals that are living off the land. The area was also strewn with dead tortoises,” DA consistency head of Bo-Karoo, Fawzia Rhoda, said on Friday.
“The DA appreciates the quick response by the SPCA, as well as assistance by way of fodder, that has been given to the animals by private organisations, including neighbouring farmers. However, as a result of worsening conditions of the ongoing drought they have to feed their own animals and it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to provide fodder to the municipal game as well,” Rhoda said.
She further pointed fingers at the local and provincial government for having “abandoned their duties in caring for state-owned game, in so doing placing an additional burden on already struggling farmers”.
“Ubuntu Local Municipality should have implemented measures to mitigate the impact of the drought on its commonage land,” Rhoda added.
“Yet, the municipality does not even have a commonage manager, as prescribed by law. The municipality also turned a blind eye to the questions and photographs relating to the situation, which DA councillor Wilma Schultz sent to the institution’s head of infrastructure and planning and the acting municipal manager, in September.”
The party also questioned why the drought had not yet been gazetted as a provincial disaster. “Other provinces have succeeded in officiating their disaster declarations, why not the Northern Cape?” Rhoda questioned.
“We are becoming worried that local and provincial government may have alternative agendas that are contrary to the best interests of the Northern Cape agricultural sector.
“In the case of Ubuntu Municipality, we are glad that the complaint opened by the SPCA against them in effect prohibits them from dishing out surviving game to friends as Christmas hampers. The culling of such animals must be done in a humane way, under strict supervision of inspectors.
“In the case of the provincial government, we can only wonder what the real cause of the delay is. Regardless of the reasons, however, it displays a serious lack of care and even disregard for the agricultural sector.”
The party said it would continue exerting pressure on government to declare the drought a provincial disaster. “We will also be investigating the conditions under which animals reside on commonage land.”