Thursday, September 28, 2006

South Africa: Poisoned caracal 'displayed as a challenge'

By Staff Writer

A dead lynx [i.e. caracal] was found hanging on a fence at the western entrance to Baviaanskloof in the Eastern Cape, one of the country's most botanically important regions, and a World Heritage Site.

Bool Smuts, director of the conservation organisation, Landmark Foundation, said in a statement on Wednesday he suspected the animal had been poisoned and hung on the fence deliberately.

"The animal in all likelihood died of poison and was displayed as a trophy.

"This can be seen only as a thumbing of the nose at conservation efforts in the region, particularly the conservation of predators.

"And this at the gateway to one of our World Heritage Sites," Smuts said.

Smuts has been campaigning for several years against attacks on wild predators, particularly against the use of gin traps which snap the leg bones of animals.

In the last four years 19 leopards and "countless more lynx" had been killed in the Baviaanskloof region.

Some of these had been caught in gin traps several times and released by vets and conservation officials.

Others had to be put down or died of thirst as they lay helpless in the steel jaws of gin traps.

Smuts said consumers needed to make the link between what they bought to eat and wear, and how these meat and wool products had been produced.

He called on consumers to boycott the "barbaric practices of poison and gin traps as a means of agricultural production".

"Gin traps have been banned in 80 countries and yet they are legally used in this country.

"I call on consumers of meat and fibre products to join a boycott of products that profit from these means of production," Smuts said.

He said consumers must call on retailers to supply "green" products which provided guarantees that they were not produced by farmers using poison or gin traps against wild predators.

This article was originally published on page 4 of The Cape Times on September 28, 2006 art_id=vn20060928005700164C914383

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