In South Africa today, beset as we are by so many serious problems and so much human suffering, it can seem irrelevant to put together laws which guarantee the rights of animals and set standards about the way we treat them.
Yet, the mark of any civilised people, or nation, is how they treat the most vulnerable in their society … and animals, whether domesticated or wild, depend on us.
So, it’s comforting to hear that the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill – which includes stipulations about the care of animals under the control of a human, whether temporarily or permanently – is now moving again through the National Council of Provinces, after being stalled a while.
The Centre for Environmental Rights believes “law reform in respect of wild animal welfare is long overdue” and the bill will regulate interactions between people and animals, including hunting, gathering, collecting, importing or exporting, among others.
Animals occupy this fragile planet we call home along with us.
And they are entitled to similar rights (as the World Organisation for Animal Health lists them), including freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom from fear and distress and freedom to express natural behaviour.
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