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Celebrating the amazing humans who rescue animals
Springbok Online Casino may be about gambling, but we’re also about the love of all creatures great and small. When it comes to animals, it’s a sure bet that we believe that their lives are precious and that they deserve our respect and protection. As much as the hunting and killing animals is (unfortunately) part of life for some South Africans, we are also blessed to have incredible organizations run by people who have devoted their lives to rescuing and rehabilitating animals – both big and small, wild and domestic. Below we feature just a small selection of these wonderful orgs and the people who really care.
TEARS – Southern Peninsula, Cape Town
“TEARS is able to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome hundreds of animals each year, turning tears of sadness into tears of joy.”
They provide free sterilisation and subsidised medical assistance to the low-income communities covering 250 square kilometres across the southern Cape Peninsula. TEARS visits vulnerable communities daily to collect and transport animals for sterilisation, provide basic animal healthcare such as vaccination and pest control as well as rescue homeless, unwanted and injured animals. These animals are transported to the TEARS Veterinary Clinic for treatment. Like all charitable institutions, TEARS relies on funding by supporters and the hard work of volunteers are vital in creating happy endings for the approximately 100 dogs and puppies and 140 cats and kittens in their care. On top of helping animals who have ‘owners’, TEARS also has a group of women aka “the Feral Queens” who feed feral cat colonies and TNR (trap, neuter, release) – this ensures a stable environment where disease is eliminated by neutering, vaccination and tick and flea treatment.
C.A.R.E. – Centre for Animal Rehabilitation
C.A.R.E. – Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and was founded by Rita Miljo, who tragically died in a fire at C.A.R.E. in 2012. Situated near Phalaborwa, This facility primarily cares for and rehabilitates young baboons back into troops for release back to the wild. Sadly, in many parts of the country and especially on farms, baboons are treated as vermin and shot on sight, often leaving the tiny babies alive clinging to their dead mothers because the callous shooter had no stomach for killing a little baby. These babies are then brought by concerned citizens to C.A.R.E. where the traumatised infant begins the long journey to wholeness, first being nurtured by humans, then adopted by a baboon surrogate mother and finally integrated into a troop with the freedom to move on.
The Karoo Donkey Sanctuary
The Karoo Donkey Sanctuary was originally founded by Jonno Sherwin on his farm outside Prince Albert, but moved to bigger, green pastures outside Plettenberg Bay. Donkeys are probably the most abused and overworked animals on the planet, quietly suffering under impossibly heavy loads or pulling carts with ill-fitting harnesses cutting into their flesh. And in the last 5–10 years, another existential threat to these gentle creatures: the donkey-skin trade fueled by China, for making ‘traditional medicine’ and cosmetics. KDS buys at auction, rescues and takes in donkeys and horses under threat from being killed in abattoirs. Here they are treated like the gentle, deserving creatures that they are. The sanctuary has rescued quite a few other animals, including sheep, cattle, a zebra and giraffes. All the residents live happy, healthy, carefree lives at KDS – just as nature intended.
The Rhino Orphanage
The Rhino Orphanage is situated in an undisclosed location for security reasons. This care facility and others like it grew out of the rapidly escalating and heinous act of poaching of rhino for their horns, the same stuff as our hair and nails are made of. As young rhino calves have no horn yet, poachers leave the traumatised baby next to its dead mother to fend for itself. In some instances, a young rhino is killed for just a minimal nub of emerging horn. The lucky ones are found in time and are brought to the orphanage to begin their journey of learning survival skills and to trust again – something their mothers would instill in them for the 3 or more years they are together. Many young rhino graduate from the orphanage and are released back into the wild under heavy guard.
Owl Rescue Centre – Hartebeespoort
Vulpro – Hartebeespoort
Owls and Vultures, besides both beings birds (obviously!) have one thing in common – they are both under threat due to human behavior. In urban settings owls are subject to being harmed and harassed due to cultural superstitions among some communities that they are bad omens. They are also dying horrible deaths from eating rats and mice that have been poisoned.
Vultures are also threatened by eating carcasses of animals that have been deliberately poisoned by farmers who view them as pests, as well as by poachers who want to eliminate their telltale presence from their illegal activity. Vultures are also prone to collisions with power lines and electrocution. In addition, vultures are considered powerful ingredients in muti and are targeted for this market, as are owls.
The Owl Rescue Centre takes in poisoned and injured owls and rehabilitate them for release. People drive long distances to the bring injured birds to the Centre, which stays open into the nights. The Centre also undertakes long journeys to collect owls for treatment.
These keystone bird species happily have these incredibly dedicated organisations who place their interests front and centre and who do everything in their power to rescue, heal and release these beautiful and important natural wonders.
Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital – Midrand
This is a charity that treats only wildlife, and it’s all free of charge as wildlife doesn’t have owners. Snakes, birds, mice, small mammals, tortoises – its all in a day’s work for this amazing group of vets and carers. Their website states: “Our aim is to improve the quality of treatment, survival and success rate of rehabilitation of small to medium sized indigenous South African wildlife. We are the first of its kind in Gauteng and our vision is that our hospital will grow to such an extent that it will become a world class facility which will serve as a teaching hospital for veterinary students interested in treating wildlife.” A look at their Facebook page shows the huge variety of “patients” – pangolins, bushbabies, jackals, genets and hedgehogs, to name a few.
ADI Wildlife Sanctuary – Winburg, Free State
The stated aim of Animal Defenders International (ADI) is to end the suffering of animals in captivity and protect wild animals and their habitat. Their main work over the past 20 years has been to rescue animals from circuses around the world and get them into sanctuaries where they can live out their lives in peace and with dignity.
Animals in travelling circuses are subjected to an unnatural and cruel life of coerced training to do ‘tricks’, kept in extremely confined, often dirty, spaces and carted around the country in ‘beast wagons’. They are unable to practice natural behaviour of any kind. Often they have been cruelly de-clawed and had sharp fangs snapped off. Broken in spirit and broken in body, ADI has managed to rescue lions, tigers and other animals from circuses in countries where the law has changed to ban them.
Big cat sanctuaries have large fenced camps with bushes, grass and trees where the animals have some privacy. Circus and zoo lions cannot be let loose entirely as they have not learnt any survival skills in the wild; but a sanctuary goes a long way to providing peace and tranqulity in a natural and relatively large habitat. The ADI sanctuary in the Free State houses lions rescued in appalling conditions from circuses in Peru and Bolivia.
As stated, these are just a few of the many fantastic organisations dedicated to helping animals. We should not forget the many SPCA branches around the country who go over and above helping both domestic and wild animals. Two examples from recent news – rescuing an unfortunate cow who had fallen into an open septic tank, and a seal found on a busy road nowhere near a beach. Bless them all!