A senior inspector for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) was attacked by two lion breeders at a controversial predator auction in Hoopstad in the Free State on Friday.
Inspector Rick Allan was punched in the mouth and hit with a walking stick in a brief skirmish about an hour before the auction was to start on Friday.
His attackers said they were angry about a media statement Allan made on Thursday in which he condemned the auction without personally inspecting the animals and conditions first.
According to Shorty Durand, one of the breeders who put animals on sale and on whose farm the auction was held, Allan did not turn up for an appointment to inspect the animals on Thursday.
”How can he make media statements about the conditions here even before he has seen it?”
The auction, the second of its kind to be held in the Free State, has attracted harsh criticism from some animal welfare groups including the NSPCA over the past two weeks. Critics have said that auctions such as these go hand in hand with ”canned” hunting.
Captive-bred lions, Bengal tigers and jaguars were for sale.
The auction yielded disappointing results for the four sellers, Durand said. Only four of the lions were sold for a total of R185 000.
In private transactions after the auction the turnover was boosted to R1,7- million, Wimpie du Plessis, director of the auctioneers firm Vleissentraal said.
Du Plessis said many prospective buyers indicated that they did not want to bid in public for the animals because of the wide media coverage and criticism of the auction. Camera teams from as far
afield as France attended.
The highest price was paid after the auction, for a 15-year-old male bred by Durand — R235 000. Durand said his asking price was R270 000.
In total 17 lions, two Bengal tigers, two jaguars and four wild dogs were sold.
Another of the sellers, Marius Prinsloo, from the Camorhi ranch near Bethlehem, said they were frustrated with the NSPCA and wildlife activists’ attempts to give the breeders of captive predators a bad name in the media.
”We don’t have the time or the means to properly to react to their allegations,” Prinsloo said.
He also said that the NSPCA should not target them for criticism as the animals were kept and bred in the best of conditions.
Allan said he was willing to forget the whole incident of his attack as long as he was allowed to properly inspect the animals after the auction.
He denied knowledge of any appointment with Durand on Thursday.
”We never make appointments for inspections — that would defeat our purpose,” Allan said. – Sapa