Help for strays in South Africa
Working for sustainable animal welfare in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape
In recent years, together with the local organization Community Veterinary Services for Southern Africa (CVS-SA), we have achieved far-reaching animal welfare successes in the townships around the capital Pretoria and in the Eastern Cape province: We enabled the expansion of basic veterinary care, carried out castration and vaccination campaigns and provided educational measures to raise awareness of animal welfare among the population. Now it is important that the great successes for the strays in South Africa are not destroyed by the consequences of the corona pandemic.
In South African townships, numerous domestic animals such as cats (e.g. as mouse catchers) or dogs (as companions and guardians) are kept. Children in particular take care of the animals, which are mostly free to roam. But people often cannot find the necessary financial resources for adequate veterinary care. Uncastrated animals reproduce in an uncontrolled manner and preventable diseases such as distemper and cat disease are spreading rapidly. Even today, rabies is a life-threatening danger in many locations.
In the project area of the Eastern Cape and Gauteng provinces, we have been able to make a noticeable contribution to greater animal welfare within the framework of our cooperation over the past six years: Through educational measures, we have achieved that the local population, including children in particular, treat animals with much more respect and care for their needs, but also know about veterinary needs. Conflicts between humans and dogs and biting incidents have been significantly reduced.
The involvement of veterinary students was and is an important component of the mission: The prospective veterinarians gain valuable practical experience for their later work and familiarize themselves with the remote areas of operation and the prevailing animal welfare problems - skills that are not taught to them as part of their studies at the university, but are essential to improve the animal welfare situation in the country in the long term.
Animal welfare during the pandemic
One of the overriding goals of our animal welfare projects is always to be able to hand over the work entirely to local organizations and the local people in the long term. In January 2021 it seemed as if the necessary structures regarding veterinary care and animal welfare education had been created on site and our support was no longer necessary. But with the worsening of the situation in South Africa due to the corona pandemic, the situation unfortunately changed again to the detriment of the animals:
Financial losses at our partner organization on the one hand and in the local population on the other hand as well as the numerous contact and travel restrictions meant that animals and people in the project area were threatened with a relapse into old problem patterns: an uncontrolled reproduction of animals due to fewer castration options, untreated diseases due to the difficult access to local veterinary care and the spread of diseases due to the lack of important vaccinations became real dangers again.
That is why we have reactivated our mission and are again supporting our partner CVS-SA in the provinces of Gauteng and Eastern Cape. The team around veterinarian Renee van Rheede van Oudtshoorn is regularly on the job - the corona-compliant implementation of animal welfare measures is at the fore at all times:
- Every week, stray and owner animals are picked up in the townships of the Gauteng province and brought to the stationary clinic of our partners where they are neutered, vaccinated and, if necessary, receive veterinary care. The owners accompanying the animals – in accordance with the corona measures, currently one person per animal is allowed - are sensitized by the staff to the needs of their animals in order to continue the animal welfare education in the population. In the next two years of our cooperation we aim to neuter 500 animals and vaccinate 5,000 dogs and cats against rabies and inform 5,000 pet owners about good animal welfare.
- In the remote villages of the Eastern Cape Province, we aim to neuter a total of 1,500 animals, vaccinate 15,000 against rabies and raise awareness of important animal welfare issues to 15,000 people over the next two years. In order to guarantee a hygienic environment we are given the possibility to carry out interventions (especially castrations) in suitable local premises. By not treating the animals on site, but transporting them to the established locations, large gatherings of people in the communities and thus health risks for the keepers and our employees are avoided. For this reason, the vaccinations also mainly take place as part of door-to-door visits and not, as common before the corona pandemic, as mass vaccination events at a central location in the community. The close exchange with the local community leaders is particularly important in the Eastern Cape because they know the area best and know exactly how many people and animals live together. With their support, our partners will also be able to work in remote communities where veterinary care is often difficult and animal welfare problems are more likely.
In addition to part of the monthly personnel costs, we provide the veterinary equipment, medication and educational materials and assume transport costs for these operations,
This is how we aim to maintain the previous project successes even in pandemic times and ensure more sustainable animal welfare in the poorest and most remote townships in South Africa. Please help - with your donation!