The rescue mission was implemented as a collaboration between two renowned international NGO’s, The Aspinall Foundation and FOUR PAWS.
According to the statements made by the Park, the 8-year-old male tiger, named Jasper, breached the fence of his enclosure on the 16th of June and proceeded to kill an employee of the Park, who was working on fences in close proximity to Jasper’s enclosure. Jasper then breached the fences of a neighbouring enclosure where he killed another male tiger, to get to a female tiger who was in oestrus. The electric fences of Jasper’s enclosure were not working as the Park was busy with repairs, hence providing an opportunity for the tiger to escape.
The Aspinall Foundation and FOUR PAWS extends sincere condolences to the family and friends of David Solomon, who lost his life.
After the tragic event, the management team of the Park placed Jasper in a small holding facility on the same afternoon to manage the incident. The Park then contacted The Aspinall Foundation to provide assistance in securing a a new home for Jasper as the Park was unable to ensure his safety. FOUR PAWS, which manages LIONSROCK, confirmed that they were able to accommodate the tiger immediately and the operation was launched. LIONSROCK is a world-class sanctuary where breeding, hunting, trade of any sort and animal interactions are prohibited. LIONSROCK provides a species appropriate lifelong home for big cats who have been rescued from exploitative and precarious situations from all over the world.
The team decided that Jade, the 8-year-old female tiger (Jasper’s sister), should also be surrendered as they had been together their entire lives, which the owners of the Park agreed to. Dr. Annie Mears, a local vet who was appointed by the collaboration, treated Jasper on Sunday, 20 June 2021, for severe dehydration as a result of his confinement and the trauma sustained by him during the incident. He was further treated for minor injuries and underwent a full health check, to ensure that he was fit to travel, while the rest of the team made the necessary preparations for the move. This included permit applications, vehicle and crate preparations and the assembly of veterinary teams, etc. Due to the complexity of the matter and the restricted time frames involved, the Uitenhage SPCA and their legal team, Karien Van Schalkwyk from BDLS Attorneys, and Advocate Ivana Bands, ensured legal compliance throughout the operation and played a critical role in obtaining the necessary permits, in accordance with the relevant legislation, for Jasper and Jade’s timeous translocation.
Upon receipt of the necessary translocation permits from the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism and the Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environment, the team began to mobilise.
The translocation operation was led by Veterinary Specialist Dr. Peter Caldwell, who tranquilised both tigers and did final health checks. The team then loaded the tigers into LIONSROCK’s customised tiger crates and loaded them onto two vehicles. They were then transported approximately 1,000km and released at LIONSROCK on the morning of the 23rd of June 2021. The tigers are both doing well and are adapting very well to their new home.
Dereck Milburn, The Aspinall Foundation’s Regional Director who coordinated the operation, said: “This was a critical and complex operation to complete within a restricted time, to remove any further risk to staff or animals. We are very thankful that the tigers are healthy and that they get a second chance at life in a new ethical home. In many captive facilities, animals are seen merely as an object, may Jasper and Jade show that these are sentient beings we are dealing with, who should be treated as such.”
Fiona Miles, Director of FOUR PAWS in South Africa says, sadly the situation elsewhere for tigers on South African soil is not as hopeful.
“As tigers are not a native species to South Africa, and whilst they may be afforded protection under the Animals Protection Act, and globally the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, their exploitation in private keeping, intensive breeding for commercial purposes and the tourism industry is not protected by legislation in South Africa. While the country has recently made the landmark decision that it will no longer allow the breeding of lions in captivity for commercial purposes, tigers have been omitted from this protection. We believe there are around 1,500 tigers being kept in cruel conditions across the country that will continue to suffer if this is not addressed. The animals are bred for tourist attractions, petting and bottle feeding, while they are young cubs. Then as juveniles they are used in walk-with or photo prop opportunities before they are killed, and their parts and derivates used in illegal international trade,”
“We, therefore, urge the South African government to include tigers in the captive breeding ban, as these animals will simply become the focus area, and subsequently more of these incidents will take place.” Miles concluded.
Fiona Miles, Director of FOUR PAWS in South Africa
The Aspinall Foundation (TAF) is a UK based charity devoted to the conservation of endangered species and returning them to wild protected areas. TAF’s major conservation projects include the reintroduction of the western lowland gorilla to the Batéké Plateau region of Central Africa, using both wild-born and captive-born release stock, the reinforcement of small isolated gibbon and langur populations in Java, the transfer of eight captive-born, Critically Endangered eastern black rhinoceros to protected reserves in South Africa and Tanzania, and the implementation of a species survival programme for the Critically Endangered greater bamboo lemur in Madagascar. www.aspinallfoundation.org
Contact Person: Dereck Milburn (Regional Director - +27 82 684 6236/ firstname.lastname@example.org)
FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.
Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.
With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.au