The Necessity for Animal Ethics Reform in Southern Africa

Posted onCategoriesethics

Animals in the Southern African region suffer from ongoing exploitation, commodification, neglect and cruel abuse:

  • The increased poaching of rhinos, coupled with suggestions of legitimising rhino horn trade; threats to other endangered species including Giraffe, Cheetahs and many others.
  • Canned hunting of lions, the most reprehensible form of hunting yet devised, accompanies trophy hunting and illegal poaching as self-indulgence masquerades as conservation.
  • Overpopulation of companion animals and the increase in neglect and cruelty in that sector; inadequate legislation and policing; poor governance; insufficient resources, divisions and conflict regarding policies.
  • Poor treatment of working dogs in security companies, working donkeys and horses.
  • Continued abuse of animals as entertainment in illegal rodeos, greyhound racing, dog fighting and circuses.
  • Ongoing cruelty in the livestock, meat, egg and dairy industries. Invisible to the general public who seem to be blissfully unaware or wilfully ignorant, ‘food’ animal cruelty takes place behind closed doors.

What is meant by ‘animal ethics reform’?

Animal Ethics deals with the question of whether we should take nonhuman animals into consideration in our moral decisions, and the degree and manner in which we should.

Human evolution has included a progressively well-informed understanding of the mental and emotional status of nonhuman animals, and this progress has resulted in changes in human attitudes, policies and the treatment of nonhuman animals.

We believe that everyone has an interest in animal ethics reform, whether in our own homes, within social groups with which we interact, or in society as a whole. There are correlations between social evils and neglect and cruelty to animals, which are never good for any society. The benefits of increased ethical responsibility and the expansion of our compassion to other species far outweigh the sacrifices and costs.

How animal ethics reform happens

Reform takes place first in the minds of those who are informed and have the appropriate knowledge, who gain either scientific or philosophical understanding that implies or demands a change in ethical position and behaviour. Whether such reform then becomes part of an organisation’s policies or a nation’s legislation largely depends on the degree to which those possessing the knowledge then communicate it to others in a coherent and convincing manner.

It is structural reform that takes the longest to achieve; in many cases laws are entrenched that still embrace long-held preconceptions, and while the majority of the populace still hold those preconceptions, the probability that structural reform (changing of legislation to reflect progressive values) will occur is reduced.

It then becomes crucial for mature communication to take place. While protests and emotional rants and conflicts populate social media, there is very little in the way of in-depth, comprehensive debate in which substantive issues are explored, systematically examined, and conclusions reached pertaining to pragmatic solutions and their implementation.

Once this is done, it then becomes possible to disseminate these to the general public in a cogent manner in order to create buy-in and cooperation.

There has never been a time when the necessity for such collaboration has been greater or more urgent.


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