Padlocked in a cage facing a fire storm

Padlocked in a cage facing a fire storm

Update – 29 April 2021


The Cape of Good Hope SPCA received confirmation from the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) today that the research project by UCT has ethical clearance and is above board. The documentation has previously been requested from UCT by the NSPCA when this matter came to light. UCT only provided the NSPCA with the information late yesterday afternoon. Based on the further information at our disposal we conclude this investigation and regard the matter as finalised. We find no wrongdoing or contraventions of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962.


Response from Dr Lyn Horn, Director: Office of Research Integrity at the University of Cape Town (UCT):- “This project has permission from both UCT FHS Animal Ethics Committee and SANParks to study the decomposition and insect colonisation of decomposing carcasses. These carcasses were ethically sourced, still-born piglets and the purpose of the research is to advance human forensic science, where being able to accurately establish the time of death is very important. Internationally, pig carcasses are used for this kind of research as the model is closest to the process of human decomposition. The carcasses are placed in cages so as to prevent scavengers from accessing them.”

Update – 23 April 2021
UPDATE – 22/04/2021

The Cape of Good Hope SPCA was contacted by the forensic entomology research team at the University of Cape Town with regards to this incident. We have been advised of the following: “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.”

We will engage further with the forensic entomology research team at the University of Cape Town with regards to this incident.

Original post 21 April 

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! 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.

The discovery is not only shocking, but it is also a complete mystery!  What we do know is that these tiny piglets were left out in the open, without shelter, food or water for an undetermined period of time before they died, they were contained in padlocked cages with no way to escape and likely suffered the torture of the blazing wildfire.

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