Public Outcry Forces End to Plans for Meerendal Wine Farm Elephants
Public outrage against the cruelty of elephant tourism, has forced Meerdendal Wine Estate in Cape Town to back down on its plans to install safari elephants on its estate.
Last week a coalition of local, national and international animal welfare groups took issue with CapeNature, the Western Province’s conservation authority, on the movement and use of elephants for tourism purposes including riding safaris.
Among their concerns was that Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville, a peri-urban suburb of Cape Town, had intended to use three elephants as a tourist attraction including for riding and to crush grapes to make a novelty range of wine. Meerendal withdrew their permit application to CapeNature on Saturday.
“Even though Meerdendal chose to make light of the fact that public pressure had forced them to withdraw their permit application, we are relieved to know these elephants will never end up at the wine estate,” said Allan Perrins, Chairman of the Cape Animal Welfare Forum and CEO of the Cape of Good Hope SPCA.
“Meerendal should have withdrawn with dignity, but their churlish, condescending statement announcing they have abandoned their plans shows they still don’t grasp the seriousness of protecting elephants or the concerns of the public regarding the exploitation and cruelty inherent in elephant tourism. In fact this is a victory for consumers who have made it clear they will vote with their pockets, and it won’t be at Meerendal Wine Estate if they promote elephant tourism.”
Jason Bell, Director of the IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare, www.ifaw.org), called on CapeNature to stop considering any applications for elephants for use in tourism, or allowing elephants to be shifted across provincial boundaries for this purpose.
“Given the levels of abuse inherent involved in the taming and training of elephants, we have to ask CapeNature: ‘Why are these permits even being considered when there are welfare concerns around captive elephants? The abuse of elephants to tame and train them for the safari tourism industry has been going on for years, and is well known’,” said Bell.
“If it hadn’t been for the astonishing public response that forced Meerendal to withdraw its permit application, permissions could have been granted and elephants may soon have been crushing grapes to be turned into a novelty wine and carrying around tourists on the outskirts of Cape Town.
“We’re calling on CapeNature to take heed of their mandate to conserve and protect wildlife. If not, CapeNature will be seen as complicit the exploitation of elephants by the tourism industry,” said Bell.
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. News photos, audio and video available at www.ifawimages.com