Animals rescued from facility outside Stellenbosch, after being found in hazardous environment


Despite warnings from the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, Eagle Encounters - a facility at Spier Wine Farm outside Stellenbosch, known for its captive bird exhibitions- will now face criminal charges after it failed hygiene standards, housing conditions, and tethering of birds.

The SPCA had to get a court order, as the owners denied inspectors of the SPCA, access to the facility, despite them having a license stating that an inspector may enter such facilities at any reasonable time, further stating that denying entry to such an officer is a criminal offence.

‘’Inspectors laid criminal charges of obstruction against one of the owners of Eagle Encounters at the Stellenbosch SAPS in terms of Section 5 of the PAPA. A conviction could lead to a R20,000 fine or 5 years’ imprisonment,’’ said Belinda Abraham, Cape of goodhope SPCA spokesperson.

‘’A court order in terms of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962 was obtained from the Stellenbosch Magistrates Court, granting our Inspectors, inter alia, access to the property for a thorough inspection. Upon arrival, Eagle Encounters staff once again tried to obstruct our Inspectors from exercising their statutory powers,’’ she added.

When eventually gaining access, inspectors confiscated six birds of prey, three snakes, and an Egyptian goose from the facility.

PHOTO - Cape of Good hope SPCA: Inspectors encounter rehab

‘’Our Inspectors discovered a shed where five birds were being concealed and kept inside crates, covered with towels. Two birds, including a Booted Eagle and a Spotted Eagle Owl, had fractured wings, with one showing a severe maggot-infested wound. These birds had been under the facility’s care for two and three days, respectively, without veterinary care. No drinking water was provided to any of these birds. Additionally, three snakes were also found concealed in plastic containers behind a washing machine inside the shed, also without water. The shed was filled with hazardous tools and open paint containers, indicating a hazardous environment,’’ said Abraham.

PHOTO: Cape of Good hope SPCA

According to Cape of Good hope SPCA, during the inspection, the facility’s veterinarian arrived and whilst acknowledging the inadequate conditions, he tried justifying the facility’s actions. The veterinarian also became verbally aggressive, attempting to defeat the administration of justice and intimidate the consulted wildlife rehabilitation veterinarian, even threatening to report her to the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC).

PHOTO: Cape of Good hope SPCA

“Despite Eagle Encounters’ claims on their website that “severely injured or poisoned birds are immediately referred to one of our recognised veterinarians, who specialize in treating raptors, evidence suggests that animals have been suffering in their care for days without the promised immediate attention as advertised.” said Jaco Pieterse, Cape of Good Hope SPCA Chief Inspector.

“In any reputable wildlife rehabilitation facility, the well-being of animals remains paramount. This entails ensuring their environment is clean, stress-free, and equipped with essentials like species-specific enclosures and proper perches. Regardless of the size of their temporary housing, animals must always have continuous access to food, water, and daylight. Particularly for creatures like snakes, provisions like hiding places and water are non-negotiable. It’s imperative to recognise that many animals entering rehabilitation are not just physically compromised but also traumatised from capture and potential dehydration. Ultimately, rehabilitation centres owe it to both the animals and the public who entrust them with these vulnerable creatures to uphold these standards,” said Dr. Karin Lourens of the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital.

PHOTO - Cape of Good hope SPCA: Open fracture infested with maggots

The Cape of Good Hope SPCA said the facility will now face further criminal charges in terms of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962. Additionally, a complaint will also be lodged with CapeNature, the permitting authority, due to suspected breaches of their permit. The facility also denied access to a CapeNature official.

 The Cape of Good Hope SPCA further said it will not tolerate ‘’the obstruction of its Inspectors in the execution of their statutory powers and is committed to ensuring that no animal endures harm from those entrusted with their protection.’’


Done By: Mitchum George


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