Teams from the National Council of SPCAs have returned from the flood-stricken areas around the Orange River where assistance was given to animals left behind on islands when most of the human population was evacuated.
The situation was assessed upon arrival. It was noted that grazing animals had food – horses, cattle, sheep and goats – as sections of islands remained above water. The concern related to food for pigs, dogs, cats and chickens.
“The people who had been evacuated by the SAPS expressed concerns to the point of desperation for their animals,” explained NSPCA Senior Inspector Morgane James. One elderly man refused to leave his animals and had to be physically removed for his own safety. That’s where we came in with assurances that help would be given.”
Emergency rations were flown in via SANDF helicopters when space was available on relief flights. “The SA Air Force was wonderful.” The mielies and dry dog food pellets were supplied to last the animals for a week, by which time it is expected that roads would be passable.
“Whilst in the area together with the SPCA Upington we rendered assistance to any animals in imminent danger. For example we took a mother cat and her kittens to safety when we found them beneath a tree and in danger of being washed away.”
“The extent of the flooding was such that not only were the actual islands isolated but the roads were flooded, bridges beneath water and existing islands splitting into smaller islands as floods engulfed them. Usually the connection between the islands was by road but this proved untenable due to the extent of flooding, the fast moving waters and the desperate and urgent nature of the situation.”
The National Council of SPCAs understands and appreciates the protocol regarding the saving of human lives. We feel that the situation was not an “either/or”, nor was it a case of putting animals before people. As Senior Inspector Morgane James summed up the operation: -
“It was a classic example of working together. Cooperation and an appreciation that life is precious were the key factors.”
The National Council of SPCAs looks back at what has been achieved, thanking all concerned. Staff are on standby should any further flooding take place.