Beitbridge - Bulawayo - Chegutu - Chinhoyi -
Chiredzi - Gweru - Harare - Hwange - Kadoma - Kwekwe - Marondera - Mashava -
Masvingo - Mutare - Zvishavane
30 MAY 2003
Busier than ever - but the team remains determined
and positive. Sadly, a rather disturbing development
during the more recent rescues has been a lack of co-operation from the ZRP.
Meryl has assessed that because most of the rescues at present involve farms
which have been taken over by MPs, 'chefs' and other senior party
officials, there is a decided reluctance on the part of the police to get
Herewith are details of some of the cases dealt
with by Meryl and her team during April and May (usually without police
The ZNSPCA were tipped off about dogs that had
been abandoned on a farm in the Ruwa area after the owner had left the country.
The team found 3 black Labradors in very poor and malnourished condition despite
a worker claiming that he was 'looking after them'. The female which had badly
deformed legs (a birth defect) was removed and euthanased as she would have been
difficult to rehome. The two males are being cared for and will be
A call was received from a farmer's wife from the
Mazoe area. The family were evicted from their farm in September last year but
the farmer had continued farming by going to the farm daily. A few weeks ago,
the farmer suddenly found himself barricaded in by the resident war vet and he
was held hostage for several hours. He was finally released and told never to
return. The farmer's wife asked Meryl if she could uplift their Siamese cat and
have him euthanased as they would have to leave the country.
Meryl and the new ZNSPCA vet assistant, Erick
Samva, went to the farm in the morning in order to avoid the war vet who is
usually only present in the afternoon. One of the workers opened the gate and
the team found that the homestead was deserted apart from a few remaining looted
goods on the lawn and a truck full of looted timber which had been abandoned as
the truck would not start. The other workers on the farm told the team that
they had all lost their jobs since the farmer had been evicted and they did not
know where to go.
Meryl found a beautiful long-haired Siamese lying
on the verandah - painfully thin but purring loudly and obviously pleased to see
her. As the owners had requested he be PTS, they decided to save him the trauma
of taking him from his life-long home, the long trip and noise and smells of the
kennels. In Meryl's own words "we drove a short distance and parked in the
shade of some gum trees. I held him in my arms as Erick slipped the needle into
the vein in his leg - he was still purring as his head slumped on my
The team were alerted to the situation on another
farm in Ruwa. 'Settlers' had occupied part of the farm, but not the house. The
owners, a young couple, had decided to relocate to South Africa but had assured
everyone that they were taking their dogs with them. ZNSPCA were tipped off
that the dogs had been abandoned. The team checked the farm house and found the
house was occupied by an unemployed person who had brought in 5 dogs of his
own. The team removed a very ill Scottie female with a severe respiratory
infection. She has since been treated, spayed and rehomed. The vet found that
her ovaries were also badly infected and said that she must have been feeling
very poorly for several weeks. The vet said he had known 'Tok-tok' since she
was a puppy and was shattered that she had been left behind. The present
occupant insisted that the owners would be returning for their other dogs.
ZNSPCA will continue to monitor the situation.
In a most disturbing case, the ZNSPCA received a
call from another farmer's wife concerning 30+ cats which had been left behind
on a farm in the Concession area. The couple had been evicted from their farm
in January but the wife was concerned about all the cats which had been left 'up
in the barns'. She reported that the cats were her husband's 'hobby' and that
all were tame. She asked that the cats be uplifted to Harare SPCA and she would
chose which ones to keep and the rest to be PTS. She later changed her mind and
said they could all 'go'. The team found the gate to the premises locked but
after much hooting one of the resident war vet's workers let them
The team again decided to save the cats unnecessary
trauma and euthanase them in situ. A message had been left that the war vet
wanted to keep the cats, but the team found that many of the animals were sick
with 'snuffles', all were unsterilised and there were the usual signs of
weakness and poor development resulting from interbreeding. The worker called
the cats and 'Whiskas' were dished out liberally for them - they were all very
hungry. It was found that none of animals were tame with each one spitting,
scratching and biting - the exercise proved to be quite stressful for the cats -
and the team. They sprayed euthanaise into the cats' mouths to sedate them
slightly. They managed to PTS 20 animals on the first visit but had to give up
around 4.00pm when light started to fade and the cats became more difficult to
The team returned four days later and euthanased
another 19 cats - another long battle - finishing at 4.30pm. The last few cats
had hidden in the large pipes stacked at the back of the barn. The team had to
dismantle the pipes one at a time in order to get them out.
Probably the most disturbing aspect of this case
was when two workers described to Meryl and Erick how they used to dispose of
unwanted litters - they would put their boots on, roll the kittens up in a piece
of plastic and then jump and trample on them. They stated they had being
disposing of kittens in this manner for the past five years. All in a very
unpleasant task for the team, but they have at least put an end to any more of
this horrific suffering.
Last week the team were called to the Centenary area to uplift a female
pony. The family had been evicted 3 months previously and despite all efforts,
could not get back onto the farm. They were also concerned as water had been
cut off to 'Milly'. This time Support Unit were present, as the family were
removing their belongings at the same time. The 'settlers' had been advised
that the family would be coming to remove their possessions so they had felled a
huge tree across the road to try and prevent access. Meryl managed to drive the
pick-up and horse-box around the tree. The team found Milly and despite
concerns that she might be difficult to load, she was so hungry she followed
Meryl (walking backwards holding a dish of cubes) straight into the
We are very pleased to report that after nearly two
years of trying to improve the living conditions of the baboons at the
University of Zimbabwe, Meryl finally negotiated with the Dean of the Faculty of
Veterinary Science for the release of the 3 remaining healthy baboons which were
being kept in concrete and metal cages at the University. A mature female who
was captured as a juvenile in the Kariba area and two juveniles who were born at
the University - 'Tiggy', a female, and 'Jimmy, a male, were released into a
large grassy enclosure at the Lion and Cheetah Park complete with a tree,
platform, logs and hanging tyres - none of which the youngsters had ever seen
before, including sunshine. Meryl said they were trembling with excitement and
anxiety but once they had retreated upwards and started eating fresh oranges,
they soon settled down. There is still an elderly adult male at the University,
but the Dean is reluctant to release the baboon as he has not been well for some
time. Meryl will continue to monitor his welfare.
On the same note, in the midst of the rescues, the
ZNSPCA have made regular visits to the Blair Research and Government Analyst
Laboratories in Harare to monitor the welfare of their animals i.e. rats, mice,
guinea-pigs, rabbits and hamsters. The conditions they found on their earlier
visits were appalling but Meryl reports that there has been a huge improvement.
They will continue to monitor the situation and work with the staff to maintain
the best standards for the care of the animals.
Disappointingly we have learned that National Parks
have now obtained a third Leopard (male) to replace the female that died in
Abuja and the female that died, inexplicably, whilst in the custody of National
Parks, who maintain that she was ill when they received her. The reports Meryl
has received about the male are that he is very stressed and has several facial
abrasions from trying to escape.
Whilst engaged on farm rescues, the team came
across a sad case of an elderly female 'hoarder'. The team have removed many of
the animals - some have been euthanased and some have been rehomed. Conditions
have improved greatly with support from ZNSPCA who will continue to work with
Meryl left for a farm in Mtorashanga early this
morning in response to a plea from a family who were being evicted. They were
taking their pets but asked the team to uplift 2 pet Duiker, 30 Geese and
several tame Guinea Fowl.
Following another tip off, the ZNSPCA has uncovered
a dog-fighting ring in Arcadia, a suburb of Harare. The names of the
perpetrators have been established. Staffies and Pit Bulls were being used.
Investigations continue and prosecutions will follow.
The large male cheetah which we reported on earlier
last year who was caught in a snare in the Marula area has now been released in
the Limpopo area. He has been fitted with a radio collar supplied by ZNSPCA
courtesy of AfriCat and will be monitored by Viv Wilson whose initial report
said that the cheetah was doing very well and was hunting.
Another encouraging achievement is that agreement
has been reached with Cotco (Cotton Company) that they will place water troughs
for donkeys at all Cotco Depots throughout the country.
All indications are that mass stayaways and protest
marches will commence in most urban areas next week. We have launched appeals
to members of the public to ensure the safety of their pets during any unrest
and to make sure that they also have adequate supplies of pet food. Security
companies and livestock-owners have been requested to take necessary measures to
ensure that all animals are fed and watered every day.
We will remain in close liaison with the NSPCA in
South Africa during the days ahead, in the event of further crisis.