Resume of the Community Meeting concerning the horse problem in Kranshoek - 17th of September 2011
The problem of free roaming horses in Kranshoek has been going on for many years and there is a general agreement that something urgent must be done to stop it.
Saturday September 17 saw Kranshoek horse owners, members of the Kranshoek community, Bitou Horse Welfare and some concerned members of the Plettenberg Bay community come together at the Kranshoek Community Center for a round table discussion on the existing problems and possible solutions.
The source of the problem is economic. Owners must feed (at no small cost), medicate, de-worm and have their horse's feet and teeth cared for all on a regular basis. Many owners cut their costs by allowing their horses to roam free on the streets and in the gardens of Kranshoek. This, aside from being illegal under Paragraph 2 Section 10 of the Bitou Municipality by laws, creates a number of serious problems.
The horses reproduce indiscriminately thereby perpetually increasing the equine population of Kranshoek. This in turn, leads to more expenses for the owners of whom many are unable to financially care for even their current horses. When the free roaming foals are born they are vulnerable to attack from dogs. Bitou Horse Welfare has taken in several of these cases and the foals had to be medicated and nurtured back to health by hand. Sometimes, despite efforts, the animals still have had to be euthanized due to the severity of their wounds. Adult horses are also victim to attack by packs of dogs and sometimes suffer severe life threatening injuries.
Members of the community at the meeting also spoke about horses repeatedly breaking down their garden fences. This is particularly distressing when the gardens in question are vegetable gardens and produce food for the family. One point mentioned at the meeting was the reluctance of many community members to come forward due to fear of reprisal. The frustration on the part of the public, however, is very real.
The free roaming horses are also open to abuse from children and teen-agers who ride them irresponsibly and sometimes cruelly with no concern for the horse's wellbeing. Sometimes wires are used in the place of bits and the horses are ridden and beaten until they literally drop. This often results in necessary veterinary care and even euthanasia. Bitou Horse welfare often pays ensuing veterinary bills.
Another problem is that the horses injure themselves on strands of discarded barbed wire, broken bottles, rusty cans and other dangerous objects while they are foraging for grazing amongst the rubble. They are also often reduced to drinking sewage water due to the lack of any other water source.
Bitou Horse Welfare is a non- profit organization run exclusively by volunteers. It is dedicated to providing emergency care and rehabilitation for any abused, neglected or abandoned horses, donkeys or mules. The association proposed that creating secure camps in which to confine the horses would help in all of the above problems and expressed the willingness to fund the creation of such camps. It suggested a freeze mark brand (a painless procedure allowing identification of the horse and its owner) would also be beneficial. It would also help identify horses that had been treated under The Bitou Horse Welfare African Horse Sickness Prevention Program. The horse owners who attended the meeting agreed that this could be a solution to the problem. The association also pointed out that the success of this depends on creation of a municipal pound.
Bitou Horse Welfare believes that key to reducing the equine problem in Kranshoek is reducing the ever-increasing horse population by means of castration. The organization has organized and funded more than twenty castrations to date with the full co-operation of the local community.
Volunteers attending the meeting have also offered to create an educational program to teach the community about proper care for horses.
Participants at yesterday's meeting expressed frustration at the lack of support from law enforcement officials and the municipality, who by law have an obligation to abide by and uphold The Bitou Municipality By-Law Relating To Prevention Of Public Nuisance And Public Nuisance Arising From The Keeping Of Animals. A number of examples were cited where community complaints were left unheeded.
The meeting ended on a very positive note with the horse owners and community members of Kranshoek agreeing to form a committee which would in turn work with Bitou Horse Welfare to implement solutions to the horse problem in Kranshoek.