249 animals die at experimental farming facilities in Eastern Cape

16 January 2020 - 20:35
By Ernest Mabuza
Nearly 250 animals have died at six experimental farming facilities in the Eastern cape in a year. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Tommy Brison Nearly 250 animals have died at six experimental farming facilities in the Eastern cape in a year. Stock photo.

Revelations that nearly 250 animals had died at the Eastern Cape government’s six experimental farming facilities have raised serious concerns around care and possible neglect at these facilities.

The DA said that provincial rural development and agrarian reform MEC Nomakhosazana Meth revealed this while replying to a question posed by the party about the number of animal deaths at the facilities.

The province has six experimental farms, focusing on animal, pasture and crop sciences — namely the Dohne ADI, Bathurst RC, Adelaide RF, Cradock RC, Wolwehoek RF, Jansenville RF and the Mthatha Dam.

The party said all these facilities, except for Mthatha Dam, had livestock on the premises, ranging from Nguni cattle and merino sheep to angora and cashmere goats.

DA MPL Retief Odendaal said that, in response to a parliamentary question, Meth confirmed that 249 animals across the facilities had died in the last financial year.

He said at the Jansenville facility, for example, 98 goats died, while at the Dohne facility 20 cattle and 43 sheep perished.

“Whilst this does not necessarily mean livestock are subjected to mistreatment in any way, as one could reasonably expect losses in any farming operation, the excessive number of animals that have perished raises serious concerns about the management of these experimental farms.

“These deaths raise issues such as whether the animals have been vaccinated, and whether the staff at these facilities are trained in identifying and treating diseases,” Odendaal said.

He said he had requested the portfolio committee to demand urgent reports on the operations at these experimental farms, with specific emphasis on the management of livestock at the facilities.

“Should any form of animal neglect or abuse come to light, the DA will ensure that criminal cases are opened against those individuals responsible,” Odendaal said.

Odendaal said the basic test of a fair society was how it treated its animals.

“The DA is determined to eradicate any practices in this province that result in cruelty to animals. This cannot be tolerated in any form.”

Comment was sought from the provincial rural development and agrarian reform department earlier on Thursday and this article will be updated when a response is received.