IFAW's Mission in South Africa: Cora's Story

Claw_2Cora Baily is the "boots on the ground" and the heart and soul behind IFAW's Animal Project in South Africa that we call CLAW (Community Led Animal Welfare). The following blog entry is a "short" summary of an average grueling yet rewarding week. And while being on call every day waiting for the unknown, hoping to help those animals in distress, Cora finds solace in writing about her experiences:

Its been a really harsh two weeks.  To kick it off, CLAW received a call from Lawley New (Southwest of Johannesburg) where a group of young criminals had just hanged a dog. There were no other witnesses but a 5 year old child. Therefore, there was not much that could be done to locate the culprit.

In another township called Sol Plaatjie, residents were being moved while I was there to meet with community leaders. Informal settlements that spring up across South Africa are often moved from one area to the next by request of authorities. It was a chaotic day in Sol Plaatjie. While meeting with the community leaders I was called to a house where there were seven starving children being cared for by a grandmother with Altzheimers. After stressful phone calls to community leaders and pleas for help, the children were taken from the home by social workers. I walked away with the family's starving puppy.

Just minutes into my meeting in Sol Plaatjie, I received another call about a monkey that was being chased by an angry mob in Kapok 35 kilometers away. I managed to divert a team from another area to the scene in Kapok and I was able to get there just after 5pm. When we arrived there was a crowd of about 500 people doing their best to persuade a terrified vervet monkey to come down from a tree.

Fortunately he was about 30 meters up, and so the missiles being hurled at him were not very effective. We placed a trap in the tree despite a severe incoming thunderstorm (it got rid of the crowd for a while), and got thoroughly drenched. We bribed some people to monitor the area and keep people away. We returned the next morning at 5am only to find that every time the monkey approached the trap, someone would scare him off. We ended up having to call in a police unit to protect him (and us)! They cordoned off the road, and eventually we managed to calm everyone down. The community was convinced that the monkey had been sent by witches to cause harm to the settlement.

We had two people there for three days (5am - 7pm), and were finally able to catch him on the third day. He is being safely transported to SanWild where he will be cared for for a few weeks, and then released to join a troop in the area.

During my time in Sol Plaatjie, I somehow managed to get a head full of infested ticks! I only discovered this the day after when they became engorged and had to be removed with tweezers. Because my head is still covered in bites and some of them have gone septic, I must go see doctor to have this taken care. Just another unexpected yet expected adventure in South Africa!

Yesterday while I was in Slovoville, I spotted a young filly and a donkey pulling a cart with a BMW (cut in half) perched precariously on top. Both animals had severe harness sores, the donkey was bleeding from shoulder and flank. The drivers refused to stop and started galloping the poor things down the road. With one hand on the wheel, the other frantically trying to get the police and SPCA on the phone, I tried unsuccessfully to cut them off for 3 kilometers. Eventually I got some help from the police thanks to a friend in the Johannesburg Metro. They diverted a VIP protection vehicle to assist.

The SPCA soon arrived with a horse transport vehicle and welfare inspectors. I let the police and SPCA take control of the situation and left the area, only to see them half an hour later frantically trying to wave me down. One of the cart drivers had tried to stab an SPCA inspector when he was loading the donkey into the transport vehicle.  Unfortunately, the driver took the donkey and managed to escape.

The vehicle that I was driving was the only hope at quickly tracking down the cart driver, but we had no success in finding him. The police never came back.

During my search for the escapee and the donkey, I met some children who surrendered three kittens to me. These kittens will join 5 puppies that I am bottle feeding back home.

Lastly, at the end of the week CLAW was called by someone on Saturday afternoon informing us that their children had stolen puppies from a stray dog who had a litter behind a factory in Randfontein. Two of the seven pups had starved to death by the time we could intervene and since then we have not been able to locate the mother.

We continue to work around the clock in South Africa responding to situations where animals are in crisis. Thanks to support from authorities and police we are slowly making a dent in improving animal welfare in South Africa. Stay tuned for more stories.......

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