Great efforts to help animals after Simonstad fire


The Cape of Good Hope animal protection society (SPCA), whose resources are usually stretched to the limit at this time of year, now also has the enormous task of searching for injured animals in the scorched field in the Simonstad area and as many trying to save wildlife if possible.

On Friday, inspectors continued their massive efforts to comb the burned field for any animals that may have been injured and could still be helped.

“We will continue to search until we are sure that every animal that needs help receives it,” the organization said.

“The ground is still blazing hot and there are small flare-ups here and there. It is difficult to search the area (for animals) because seemingly solid ground can suddenly give way and our team members then find themselves knee-deep in ash.”

Rescue efforts continued through the night on Thursday, with the SPCA team working in close collaboration with officers at the Joint Command Center (JOC Center) at the Simonstad Fire Station.

Strong winds previously meant the team had to temporarily suspend their rescue efforts and some of the animals had to be left behind after the approaching flames threatened the team.

Officers have since returned to the area to continue their relief efforts. Volunteers from the Tears animal shelter and Animal Welfare SA also signed up to help. The SPCA staff are trained to work in fire conditions and will share this knowledge to lead efforts to get animals out of the area as quickly as possible – and as safely as possible.

“We take our hats off to the efforts of the Cape Town firefighters and thank them for keeping us and the community safe. They show incredible bravery and determination in an extremely difficult situation.

“Our respect to everyone on the fire line – and our prayers for your safety accompany you,” the SPCA said in a message to the emergency service workers.

The SPCA’s mobile clinic is stationed at the fire station, ready to respond to any urgent situation. Pet owners can also take their animals there if they are worried about anything.

Despite the heartbreaking scenes that greeted inspectors in so many places, several of the injured animals that were rescued in the past few days did survive. And on Friday, even more “survivors” were found and helped.

However, other animals were less fortunate. Turtles burned to death in their shells, snakes were charred and lizards burned in the flames.

“It is heartbreaking for our team to see the lifeless bodies of the animals that did not survive. This is a huge loss for this unique habitat and our search and rescue efforts continue urgently to find any surviving or injured animals.

“We don’t give up until we are sure that no animal in need of help has been left behind.”

Help like that

The SPCA appealed to people to be on the lookout for any animals they notice on the outskirts of Simonstad that may need help. In such a case, the SPCA can be called on 021 700 4158/9 or 083 326 1604.

“Remember that injured animals can act aggressively due to pain. If you do pick up any injured animals, please place them in a cardboard box with ventilation holes and cover the box with a towel. The darkness will reduce stress and make them feel safe.”

Residents can also place shallow bowls of water in gardens for animals that may go there. Place rocks in the bowls so they don’t drown.