SPCA officials have expressed their shock at finding hundreds of dead parrots at the home of a parrot breeder in Randburg.
"We received an anonymous complaint indicating that animals were being kept in unsatisfactory conditions," Randburg SPCA inspector Shiven Bodasing told News24.
He identified the owner of the premises as a senior official of the Parrot Breeders' Association of South Africa (PASA).
The SPCA was prevented from accessing the property and approached the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court for a warrant.
"We went with a doctor of the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital to inspect the property. We were quite shocked at what we found there. It was clear that there was gross negligence. It was horrendous," said Bodasing.
'High mortality rate'
The SPCA removed 20 distressed birds from the premises and found at least 150 dead birds.
"They had been dead for quite a while, though the real figure would probably be higher because we couldn't count them," said Bodasing.
According to the PASA's code of conduct, "Parrots will be housed in clean and suitable aviaries that are protected against draughts, extremes of weather, predators and rodents.
Aviaries will be constructed of impervious material that can be washed and sterilized. At least two wooden perches will be provided that will be placed as not to interfere with free flight."The code also highlights clean aviaries, water, food and health of the birds as important.
PASA chair Ben Minnaar told News24 that the official resigned following revelations of the dead parrots."This morning Antonie [Meiring] tendered his resignation as member of our society.
He says he has an explanation for the skeletons."On the face of it, the allegations are serious to warrant an internal investigation in terms of our disciplinary code," Minnaar added. SPCA officials found birds in cages in disgusting conditions.
'This is not a breeding problem, it's a human problem'
"What's most concerning to us is that a facility owned by vice chair of the Parrot Breeders' Association of South Africa has such a high mortality rate," said Bodasing, adding that the birds usually have a 50 to 70 year lifespan.
Based on rough estimates of the skeletons observed, the SPCA said the value of the birds was about R750 000.
"Rare Macaws sell for R80 000. They are valuable animals. These animals were basically exploited for the gain of these people," Bodasing charged.
He said that the parrots should not have died in such high numbers, given their lifespans.
"It's just inexcusable to have such a high mortality rate. This is not a breeding problem, it's a human problem. Wherever there's money, there's greed and exploitation," said Bodasing.
The rescued birds are currently being housed by a vet.
Bodasing said consultations were under way while the SPCA considered criminal charges.
"We are going to lay criminal charges once we've consulted with relevant roleplayers."