‘NSPCA acted recklessly’

The South African Crocodile Farmers’ Association (SACFA) has temporarily withdrawn its support for single-pen crocodile farming following public outcry that has dubbed the practice as cruel.

- Advertisement -

Crocodile farmer Coen Labuschagne was charged with animal cruelty by the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) and has since transferred the crocodiles in the single pens to communal pens. After hearing about the charges brought against him, Labuschagne reported to the police station, but was not arrested.

SACFA said that more research is needed to establish norms and standards for the practice and that it would not support single-pen farming until such a study was completed. Robert Reader, chairperson of SACFA, said that it was a pity that SA had come under fire for single-pen crocodile farming since it was the norm in numerous other countries.

“Crocodiles are in many respects better off in captivity than in the wild. In SA, crocodile brains are used for muti which has severe implications for the species. Farmers are in a position to protect the species and ensure their survival.” Reader said that for this reason it was reckless of the NSPCA to run to the press with the issue because it damaged the industry.

- Advertisement -

“Buyers of skins don’t want to be seen to support a country that has animal cruelty problems. Yet these buyers would still be happy to buy skins from other countries where single-pen farming is used.” Labuschagne added that his clients had already expressed concern about the quality of skins since communal crocodile pens do not produce the same quality as single pens.

“There are a lot of lies going around. There are reports from wildlife experts that have condoned single-pen farming, but this has all been ignored by the NSPCA.” Reader said: “The NSPCA falls under the department of agriculture, so it must consider the implications for the sector should an industry such as crocodile farming be tarnished.”