The piglet remains found in a padlocked cage among the debris near the University of Cape Town (UCT) on Wednesday, 21 April are not a case of animal-cruelty, say the Cape of Good Hope SPCA.
The organisation were horrified by the discovery during an operation to find injured and distressed animals in the aftermath of the Table Mountain fire that gutted 600 hectares of land.
“While our team were searching through the fire ravaged areas we were expecting to see some horrific sites, but nothing could have prepared them for this,” they said in a post. “The burnt remains of 2 tiny piglets, each separately padlocked in a cage were located +/- 2 km’s into the forest at Madiba Circle at UCT’s upper campus,” they said in a post.
Initially, the SPCA asked for information that would lead to finding perpetrators who left the two piglets to burn to death in the locked cages.
The forensic entomology research team at the University of Cape Town reached out to them to take responsibility for the piglets.
The piglets, however, were not alive when the fire engulfed their cage – they were deceased carcasses being used for research.
The researcher issued a response to the SPCA denying animal cruelty.
“Please be advised that this is NOT a case of animal cruelty; your inspectors have discovered the remains of an ongoing PhD research project in forensic entomology of which I am a co-supervisor, being hosted by SANParks.
“We have been establishing baseline data on forensically relevant carrion insect succession in Cape Town, using deceased piglet carcasses as the source of carrion. The carcasses are caged to prevent scavenging and/or theft. Both UCT and SANParks are aware of the research, and it is ethically approved,” they said.
The animal rescuers plan on engaging further with UCT to find out more about the incident.
Among the fire debris were burnt snakes and other small animals.