AKI Grantee: Mthatha SPCA (South Africa)
Dividing and Re-Fencing Mthatha SPCA's Grazing Land for Neglected & Injured Livestock
AKI awarded the Mthatha (Umtata) SPCA an Africa-Based Animal Welfare Organization Grant to fence off their livestock grazing area and divide the fenced area into sections to properly manage large animals (mainly cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys) in their care. Mthatha SPCA is responsible for the large animals that the Traffic Department brings to the SPCA when found wandering on the national roads. The SPCA also provides care for livestock that they rescue from neglect and road accidents. All livestock are placed on grazing land, with access to water, and are dipped against ticks and fleas. Most of the animals are reclaimed by their owners eventually, but it can be months before the owner can afford to pay the SPCA's daily rate for keeping their animals – which is actually low and does not cover the SPCA's costs.
With the AKI grant, the Mthatha SPCA addressed the following problems:
1) Old fences collapsing Our available land is limited, and our fencing keeps collapsing because of the high number of animals we receive or rescue.
2) The need to divide the land into sections We need to be able to section off parcels of land
● so that some can be kept for grazing while other parts recover;
● to separate the large animals (cows, horses) from the smaller animals (sheep, goats), so that both groups can be managed better and so that each group has equal access to food;
● to house sick or wounded animals, or those who need to give birth, separately from those who are healthy.
3) There is also a huge need to protect against stock theft. Cattle is wealth in the Eastern Cape, and thieves steal our cattle in broad daylight when we are forced to take them out to public land for extra grazing – even though we do employ two men to herd the farm animals. Thieves also break in at night, cutting our broken fence and leading animals away.
4) Decent fencing will also stop cattle from wandering off and walking into town along the national road, where they are in danger from fast moving traffic. According to the Animal Protection Act, we are mandated to protect these animals, but without proper fencing, we cannot perform our job well.
5) Properly fencing our grazing land will raise our chances of being able to raise funds for fertilisers so that we can increase the grass available to cattle. Our land and the surrounding land in our area is much depleted and worn.
The Mthatha SPCA successfully implemented their grant project. Old fencing was removed, new fence posts and fencing were placed on the grazing land, livestock were rotated to allow grass to return, animals are now kept safely off the road, protected from thieves, and given access to healthy pasture (and water).
Condition of the land and fencing in November 2021:
By January 1, 2022, the grazing land is divided, fences are completed, and the land has a nice cover of vegetation for the livestock:
Based in South Africa in the province of Eastern Cape, in the district of Mthatha (also known as Umtata), the Mthatha SPCA started operating in 1967. The Mthatha SPCA covers a vast area in a region where people are very poor and do not donate. The SPCA "sees to a huge area, with almost no money coming in."
The Mthatha SPCA:
● Educates communities about animal welfare through fliers, outreach campaigns and talks in schools.
● Vaccinates dogs and cats against viruses such as distemper and rabies, using the services of state vets when we can get them.
● Dips dogs in our dipping tanks against disease such as mange, tick fever, etc.
● Houses dogs and cats when their owners are away, for which we receive a small income that is not enough to cover salaries.
● Occasionally runs sterilisation campaigns, using state vets and volunteer private vets from other cities - a rare occurrence as most vets are too busy.
● Admits tens of unwanted animals each month, mostly dogs.
● Finds good homes for dogs and cats (adopting them out) and conduct a home inspection before any such adoption.
● Admits tens of stray animals, mostly livestock, that have been found wandering on roads and in Mthatha and surrounds.
● Attends to injured or neglected animals, and attend to cruelty cases. We have taken out court orders against some owners for cruelty.
● Inspects hawkers’ sites – the selling of live animals in overcrowded pens, especially before weekends, is common. This includes daily poultry selling sites along the side of the road. We insist on adequate shelter from the weather, and the provision of water, and often issue warnings of confiscation.
Mthatha SPCA's future plans are:
We aim to expand our organisation to accommodate as many animals as we can.
We aim to open our closed clinic, which we were unable to run for more than a year or so when we could afford a vet.
We intend making an arrangement with government to second one of the state vets to SPCA, if possible.
Some of the Mthatha SPCA's challenges are:
We were not, and still are not, in a position of being able to afford working technology such as a computer with constant access to internet. Most of what we do is manual.
We are short staffed.
Local government is not playing its part by regularly supporting the pound, which we run on their behalf. When they pay for the service, it is piecemeal and always behind. We need to lead by example, and therefore have focused on reaching out to every animal in need that is brought to our attention. We never refuse a call-out.