The State of Animal Welfare Address Panel

FOUR PAWS South Africa Delivers Its First State of Animal Welfare Address 

FOUR PAWS seeks to inform stakeholders about the current state of Animal Welfare in South Africa


CAPE TOWN, Tuesday 14 May – On Friday 10 May global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS hosted their inaugural State of Animal Welfare Address (SOAWA) at the District Six Homecoming Centre in Cape Town. The networking event convened key stakeholders who reflected on the animal welfare issues and challenges experienced in South Africa and what needs to change to achieve the state of animal welfare we all want for animals in South Africa. Based on the findings of a number of surveys conducted over a period of time, by FOUR PAWS, the results were presented at the event that was broadcasted live on the FOUR PAWS South Africa YouTube channel.  The concerns raised in the survey reaffirmed the organisation's position to continue revealing animal welfare issues for the protection of animals.

Guests were welcomed by MC and forum moderator Graeme Richards with opening remarks by Honourable Narend Singh, IFP Chief Whip who is also a member of the Portfolio Committee on Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment. Amongst the speakers were FOUR PAWS Ambassador Kajal Bagwandeen who opened the discussion urging South Africans to #LiveKinder collectively for the health and welfare of people, animals and the planet followed by Fiona Miles Director at FOUR PAWS who delivered the State of Animal Welfare in South Africa (SOAWA). Highlighting the various animal welfare issues and concerns Miles said “understanding and respecting the interconnectedness of animal welfare, human wellbeing and environment can and will secure us a healthy future because when they suffer, we suffer. FOUR PAWS is calling on all political parties in South Africa to include Animal wellbeing and sentience in their political manifesto”. Alderman JP Smith responded to SOAWA by stating, “Local government is in an awkward space in that we don’t have a clear mandate for Animal Welfare. We derive our legal powers from no animal specific mandate. We derive it from an environmental health, public nuisance open space, regulation function in schedule 4B and 5B of the constitution. It is evident that local government needs a strong clear explicit mandate and in fact so does provincial and national government. As local government the city is therefore very dependent on our relationship with Animal Welfare organisations. We rely on their skills and their facilities, their resources, their conscience and their motivation so I have attempted to make myself and the city the best allies we can to these Animal Welfare societies and in my political capacity I have proposed, seconded, and supported numerous motions to our federal Congress in support of Animal Welfare.”

A word from other animal welfare organisations was heard from Michele Pickover representing the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum South Africa who gave some context to the history of Animal Welfare in South Africa and the ongoing fight to protect wildlife to date, Nicola Vernon representing the Farm Animal Alliance (FAA) shared their support for better welfare of farm animals in South African communities and shared a heartwarming story of how a side hustle piggery turned into a lucrative fresh produce business through a program called ‘Pigs to Plants’ that helps assist and educate farmers to take better care of their animals and persuade farmers not to farm with pigs but to help establish them with a vegetable garden for fresh produce instead. Tony Gerrans representing the Cape Animal Welfare Forum (CAWF) discussed the sentience of animals and how in 2018 the constitutional court stepped up and produced a progressive judgement which essentially recognized the intrinsic value of animals and that protecting animals is part of protecting our environment and forms part of section 24 of the Constitution on the right to a safe and protected environment.

Celiwe Shivambu Campaign Officer at FOUR PAWS delivered the FOUR PAWS survey results which painted a picture of the animal welfare we deserve. “These results serve as a call to action to not only the government but the consumer, the meat and dairy industry, the farmers and policy makers and animal welfare organisations alike. The survey revealed that 86% of South Africans feel that the state of animal welfare in our country is poor. We need to change this,”says Shivambu. FOUR PAWS urges South Africans to become the authoritative voice for animals and not let their future be pre-decided. We have the power to demand that animals no longer be mistreated and that they no longer have to endure the suffering under direct human influence. 

In concluding remarks Advocate Anthony Mitchell, expressed his thanks to all the speakers who joined in on the discussion of animal welfare in South Africa and recognised the need for legislative intervention. “The discussions we’ve had here tonight not only challenge us, but also call upon our deepest sense of empathy and responsibility. Tonight, we are taking some of the first tentative recurring steps towards animal sentience in South Africa. It’s a monumental shift how we view and treat the nonhuman inhabitants of our world. This is our biggest challenge that we have, and the environmental portfolio will know that the environment sits at the very bottom of the pile of government portfolios making it harder to get anything through. So, it’s not just a matter of policy but also a profound moral imperative that we recognise and incorporate animal sentience into laws.” 

Fiona Miles, FOUR PAWS Director in South Africa, says: “In 2024, we need to build together a common consciousness and empathy, to live kinder and act together to create a worldwide animal welfare movement driven by scalable change of human behaviour and systems so that animals can live their best lives possible.”


SOAWA provided an overview of the state of animal welfare in South Africa covering various animal welfare issues from wildlife to farm and companion animals; including the legal and illegal trade of big cats contributing to biodiversity decline and calling for immediate implementation of the government's intention to ban the captive lion industry. The speech addressed the challenges faced by homeless dogs and cats in South Africa, emphasising a need for funding and improved veterinary care and sterilisation to help address the stray population crises. Furthermore, the speech addressed the cruelty of factory farming and its connection to public health and pandemic risk and calling for a One Health approach to prevent future pandemics by improving animal welfare and ending high risk practices. In closing, the speech called for urgent action and policy changes to create a better future for all.  

Watch the State of Animal Welfare Address livestream here.

10th of May marks South Africa’s Meat Exhaustion Day 2024. South Africa already exhausted its yearly meat consumption allowance within planetary and health boundaries here.

Public Relations Officer ZA

Deidre Daniels

Public Relations Officer

+27 (0)21 702 4277

+27 (0)78 675 8220

9B Bell Crescent, Westlake Business Park, 
Green Building, Cape Town, 7945

A Public Relations professional with over eight years’ experience in fostering positive relationships between organisations and media.

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. 

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