The Cullinan owners of Marti the pet zebra were left heartbroken after a dispute with neighbours over permits led to him being relocated last week.
Marti is a five-year-old zebra stallion, born from two rescued and retired zebras, Bob and Cindy, which the Kaffkas took in about seven years ago.
“I still can’t believe he is gone and to think it is all because of a neighbour, I cannot think people can be so malicious. Marti lived here his whole life,” Beverley Kaffka said.
Two weeks ago Marti escaped their 71-hectare property when their fence was cut. Kaffka said she was informed of his escape by a neighbour, who read it on the local Community Policing Forum group.
Kaffka and her daughter went to where Marti was being kept to collect him and take him home.
“The employee refused to hand over Marti unless we produced a permit,” Kaffka said.
“I tried to explain to her Marti was born on our property and lived there his whole life, that’s why he doesn’t have a permit, but she refused.”
The Kaffkas opened a case of theft at the Cullinan stock theft unit.
“We were told we simply needed a transport permit, which only costs R88. I immediately applied.”
She was then told by Gauteng Nature Conservation that their property was not big enough to house a zebra.
Eventually, Kaffka approached the Cullinan Magistrate’s Court in a desperate attempted to buy time as she applied for an exemption of the specified 100ha required to house a zebra and the transport permit to move Marti.
Kaffka’s application was thrown out and she was given two options: surrender him to the state or give the animal away.
“I couldn’t surrender Marti to the state, it will put him in a zoo and that would be like sending him to the concrete jungle.”
Kaffka said she did not believe she was in contravention of any laws.
She spoke to Roodeplaat veterinary surgeon Dr Heinrich Davies, who helped organise Marti’s move to another lodge which had space for the wandering zebra, about 30 kilometres from the Kaffkas’ home.
Davies said Marti is doing well at the lodge.
“He had to take a bite or two or give a kick or two to survive but he did it,” he said.
“He is doing well at this stage.”
Davies said he is usually worried when younger zebras enter an enclosure after being out of the wild for a period.
“But nature took over and he followed his instinct,” Davies said.
He said although Marti has butted heads with an older zebra already, it seems he might have made a few friends in a team of horses.
General manager at the Tshwane Waltloo Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Dewald Wahlstrand said a permit is needed for any wild animal.
“You can get fined if you do not hold a permit and possibly even face imprisonment if it is a recurring offense.”
He, however, said he is not sure what the repercussions would be for owning a zebra illegally.
Wahlstrand said the person is usually given a warning and has a short period to apply or produce the permit before being fined.