Northern KZN
Special message from breeding project
08:10 (GMT+2), Fri , 12 September 2014
Northern KZN
Lately, more and more people want exotic animals as pets, and in South Africa, these tend to be the smaller animals like meerkats, servals, mongooses, caracals, genets and so on.
Often, these animals are bought illegally on the black market and in some cases found on farms and even residential areas.
Most of the time, these animals’ mothers are out hunting and people think the young have been abandoned.
They take these babies and then try to hand-rear them in good faith.
The problem with this is that all of them have very different needs when growing up, and the first six weeks of nutrition are the most important.
If you get it wrong in those first six weeks, you will irreversibly damage that poor animal’s health for the rest of its life. Problems like bone density issues, bone deformities, lung and organ complications, and even neurological problems will occur.
You will never completely domesticate them. You will need to respect the wild side of them, and understand how the wild side will reflect on you.
This does not mean they will be aggressive or vicious, but it does mean they have certain characteristics they have developed over thousands of years to help them survive and thrive in the wild.
To try and rectify these problems is in some cases not possible, and these animals need to be put down.
So when people try to rescue animals, they are mostly trying to help these wild animals but unknowingly do more harm than good. These animals should firstly be monitored to see if they are actually abandoned or if mom might just be hunting.
Secondly, if mom does not return, contact your closest rehabilitation centre to assist.
Understandably, we all want a pet we can show off with, but is it fair on these animals that we use them as show pieces while they are suffering due to our own selfish needs?
So, please, if you find an abandoned wild animal and are not sure as to what to do, rather contact the right people who will take the necessary action to ensure that the welfare of these animals is not further compromised.
Your nearest centre understands the rehabilitation process and is more than willing to offer a safe environment for them.
Exotic animals as pets are becoming a popular commodity and little concern is given to their actual welfare.
Their babies are plucked from the wild, and the few animals that survive this stressful ordeal and transportation face lives in captivity as ‘pets’.
Exotic animals are not suited to a life as a house pet; they do not draw comfort or benefit from being near people.
Despite what animal sellers may say, appropriate care for wild animals requires considerable expertise, specialised facilities and lifelong dedication to the animals. Their nutritional and social needs are demanding to meet and, in many cases, unknown.
They often grow to be larger, stronger and more dangerous than owners expect or can manage. Baby animals can be irresistibly adorable - until the cuddly baby becomes bigger and stronger than the owner ever imagined.
The instinctive behaviour of the adult animal replaces the dependent behaviour of the juvenile, resulting in biting, scratching or displaying destructive behaviours without provocation or warning.
These animals typically become too difficult to manage and are confined to small cages, passed from owner to owner, or disposed of in other ways.
Please do not stimulate this market by purchasing an exotic pet, as there will always be a heartless person supplying the demand.
As you know, in the last 12 months, we have successfully raised, re-wilded and released two abandoned caracals, three servals, and some smaller antelope and birds into the Nambiti Big 5 Private Game Reserve.
These orphans were all brought in by farmers from the Harrismith, Mooi River and Bergville area. Remember Diablo, the three-month-old serval from Pretoria that was rescued by us... he was bought as a pet for someone and eventually ended up being locked away in a room.
He is now doing very well as a free animal, often seen by our rangers and guests in the reserve. Contact us on 083-377-9340 for more information.

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