The Cape of Good Hope SPCA received myriads of distressed calls, as many ushered in 2024, with fireworks

The Cape of Good Hope SPCA said it had its hands full on New Year’s Day, as it received myriads of distressed calls, as many ushered in 2024, with fireworks.

PHOTO: Cape of Good Hope SPCA

In a statement, the animal organisation said it was inundated with distress calls on the 1st and 2nd of January 2024. It said inspectors were on site at the V&A Waterfront to monitor marine birds on nests, seals who were asleep and all other wildlife in the immediate area where an industrial firework spectacle took place just as the clock struck twelve.

Loud, percussive noises (e.g. fireworks) are deeply distressing to animals, who do not understand the source of the sudden and terrifying sound.

‘’Our inspectors reported seeing marine bird pandemonium erupt as the fireworks display started. Hundreds of Hartlaub’s gulls took to the air and were seen colliding with one another mid-air in fear and confusion at the cacophony of loud banging noises,’’ said spokesperson, Belinda Abraham.

‘’On the V&A ‘s Seal Platform, an area of refuge provided for Cape fur seals to seek permanent shelter and protection, twenty-two slumbering seals were jarred awake into sudden panic by the fireworks and noise erupting all around them and were seen barking and biting each other in a panic to escape the noise. They were hesitant to flee into the sea, unsure if the perceived danger was in the water or on land. They decided to stay put on their platform instead and cowered together in the corner instead,’’ she added.

The Cape of Good Hope SPCA lost a court judgement, after it filed a complaint against the Management of the V&A Waterfront, of the detrimental impact fireworks will have on local wildlife.

“It was heartbreaking to see these usually placid animals scared into flight or fight mode in response to a danger they had no idea how to handle. If everyone who thinks that fireworks have no impact on animals could just have witnessed what we saw, we think they would change their minds very quickly,” said Jon Friedman, SPCA Wildlife Department supervisor, who was at the V&A Waterfront monitoring the seals.

Chief Inspector Jaco Pieterse said the animal welfare also received calls from across the metro of injured and panicked domestic animals

‘’Many wild animals fell victim to firework-related suffering, among the reported casualties were several birds, an injured duiker, and a squirrel. Reports of injured sea birds are still being received and have come from as far away as Melkbostrand and Fishoek beach. It is disheartening to see such indifference towards the plight of animals despite our proactive efforts to engage with the relevant parties and advocate for the well-being of animals.’’

The Cape of Good hope SPCA appealed to the V&A Waterfront and other event organisers to recognise the shared responsibility of protecting vulnerable wildlife populations and to make compassion part of their decision-making processes.


Done By: Mitchum George


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