Friday, January 22, 2010

SOUTH AFRICA NEWS: Deer Remaining on Robben Island to be Removed or Culled

Robben Island has given conservationists until the end of the month to obtain permits for the live capture and removal of about 30 remaining fallow deer, or it will continue the culling process.

Lekgetho James Makola, acting senior manager at Robben Island Museum, said the cut-off date was necessary so a final decision could be taken on whether the culling of the deer would resume.

Robben Island officials have met representatives from animal welfare group Four Paws International, which runs the Lions Rock sanctuary in the Free State, to discuss a proposal for the capture and relocation of the fallow deer.

Makola said Four Paws International presented a proposal for the sterilisation, capture and removal of the deer.

"We have approved their proposal and have given the go-ahead for them to obtain permits for the relocation."

According to Makola, Four Paws International has until the January 31 to come up with the permits.

He said the island had tried for three years to obtain such permits, but all applications had failed.

About 220 deer have been culled in the problem animal control operation under way on the island.

Three months ago, the museum, CapeNature, SPCA, and others were approached by interest groups offering to find an alternative home for the deer, and agreed to suspend the culling.

Makola said he hoped Lions Rock would meet the requirements set by CapeNature.

"We are hoping that their application will be successful, so that we can put this behind us.

"But if they fail to do so, we will have to revert to the culling programme."

Dr Amir Khalil, director of project development at Four Paws, said the organisation had offered "to assist with the capture and removal of the fallow deer, and placement in a sanctuary approved by relevant parties".

"The monitoring and supervision of the capture, sterilisation and translocation will be done exclusively by the SPCA Cape of Good Hope," he said.

Four Paws had agreed to carry the cost of the capture, translocation, logistics and life-long care of the deer.

"The best time to move the animals is in March and April, but we are ready at any time to do the transfer."

Khalil said Four Paws was awaiting a response from Free State Nature Conservation about the permits.

"Once we obtain these, we can summit a full application to CapeNature for a final decision on whether a capture and transport permit will be approved," he said.

Source: Independent Online

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