Caracal custodians appear in South African court

Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) -- The owners of the Kalahari Raptor Centre (KRC) Friday appeared in the Kuruman Magistrates Court to answer charges of transporting and keeping three caracals without a permit.
The caracals were darted by nature conservation officials in December and moved to the Bloemfontein Zoo.
The confiscation of the animals was successfully challenged in the High Court and the conservation department was ordered to return the animals to the KRC.
The trial and the attack upon the KRC have provoked outrage among animal welfare groups both in South Africa and overseas, but it has an importance that goes far beyond animal welfare.
Chris Mercer, co-owner of KRC said that if the department obeyed the new democracy laws and followed the procedures required by them, they would have given the KRC an opportunity to make proper representations, and the animals would today be living free in the 20 000 hectare predator-fenced camp at Tswalu in the Kalahari.
"An application to permit the KRC to care for caracals was made before the animals were rescued and the department was notified shortly after their rescue," Mercer affirmed, adding "the KRC believes that by prosecuting innocent people whose work and purpose is to save the animals' lives, the department would find that it has put itself on trial.
" The trial continues.

04 may 2001 21:55:00

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