SPCA inspectors disturbed by remains of animals found after fire

A dead squirrel found burnt after Table Mountain fire.

The remains of dead animals found after the recent Table Mountain fire indicated immense suffering as inspectors found their bodies laying in unsettling positions.

Inspectors from the Cape of Good Hope SPCA returned to the burnt areas after the fire to see whether there were any animals that could still be rescued.

All the animals they have found to date, including snakes, squirrels, mongoose, mice, dassies and tortoises, were already dead and burnt by the time they got there.

SPCA spokesperson, Belinda Abraham, said: “Each set of remains we have come across tells a story of immense suffering. Heartbreakingly, the positioning of their remains show animals who never stopped fighting to live. They have been turned to charcoal in running/climbing positions. We can only imagine what they must have gone through. Some remains are burned beyond recognition.”

Ms Abraham said it was a really upsetting time for the inspectors as they searched the fire-ravaged areas on foot for animals in need of help. Unfortunately, all that has been found to date are the charred remains of animals. However, she said, the signs of life that can be seen are just enough to give one hope.

“We are also on high alert for the wild animals who may be returning to their areas of origin where they had burrows or nests. The very hot earth could still burn their soft underbellies and paw pads,” she said.

The inspectors were able to find one snake that could have been saved and this was enough to give them hope to continue their search.

“We wouldn’t have been able to not undertake a search-and-rescue effort. The thought of leaving animals to suffer prolonged and agonising deaths would have been unbearable,” she said.

A snake found after last week’s devastating Table Mountain fire.

The SPCA also found the remains of two tiny piglets, each separately padlocked in a cage, located approximately 2km into the forest at Madiba Circle at UCT’s upper campus.

UCT responded that the inspectors discovered the remains of an ongoing PhD research project in forensic entomology, being hosted by SANParks.

Ms Abraham said that they have no evidence of whether the piglets were alive or dead before the fire and also had no evidence about the origin of the remains. There is therefore not enough substantial evidence to clarify this incident currently.

The public are encouraged to continue keeping shallow containers of water in their gardens in case animals find their way to it.

The reporting of any displaced wild animals or animals in distress should also continue being communicated to the SPCA.