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Animal Welfare

Author: Christine Kuch ~ NSPCA

( Article Type: Explanation )

Animal welfare in South Africa is governed by the Animals Protection Act and the Performing Animals Protection Act. While welfare cannot solely be defined by legislative provisions, it is important to note that national issues and problems relating to animals are being addressed through regulations, codes of Practice and by-laws. This includes transportation of wild and farm animals, protocols relating to the export of animals and the capture of wild animals.

Although the Animals Protection Act specifically relates to animals in captivity or under the control of any person, it is recognised that animals in the wild may also need assistance. This would include disaster response such as when animals are trapped or injured in floods or fires.

A key element to the definition of ‘animal welfare’ is that no objection is raised to the use of animals per se provided that humane standards and treatment applied throughout the animals’ lives and that the method of killing is humane in accordance with The Five Freedoms listed here. This leads to the active role played by welfare organisations in liaising with industries or businesses such as emerging farmers, the red- and white-meat producers, businesses and security departments using security dogs, laboratory animals in schools and institutions to enable the acquisition of knowledge and skills for the benefit of animal welfare principles. Environmental enrichment for captive animals is also a key objective.

Welfare organisations believe there is no known humane way to kill a whale at sea. Therefore the stance of South Africa at meetings of the International Whaling Commission to uphold and continue the ban on commercial whaling is applauded. It is an important welfare issue, albeit that these marine animals are‘ in the wild’.

Issues of concern and currently at the fore within our country include ‘canned’ hunting, the exotic animal trade, fur, trapping (including snares and poaching), production methods that are inherently cruel, and uncontrolled ‘backyard’ breeding.

The Five Freedoms

  • Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour
  • Freedom from fear and distress