The Richards Bay Project

Next weekend the Mobile Operating Theatre will be in Richards Bay. This is a very exciting development for Cluny Animal Trust. We are seeing it as the first tentative step towards achieving a goal established by the Trust several years ago when the Mobile Operating Theatre build was first commissioned.

A feral cat colony sterilization clinic near the Caledon River between Fouriesburg and Clarens ~ photo by Mary Walker

The plan was that the Theatre would service the Eastern Free State region where Cluny is domiciled, using funding raised by us and by our faithful volunteers and donors. In addition to this, the Theatre and the Cluny Team would provide a service further afield, on request. The understanding would be that the recipient of the service (the client, if you like) would undertake to arrange the outreach logistics themselves and raise funds themselves to cover the costs incurred by Cluny in the course of its delivery of the service. In this way the Trust funds for local work would not be used.

A sterilization outreach clinic in Bohlekong, Bethlehem ~ photo by Mary Walker

We are well into our second year of running the Mobile Theatre and have travelled away from our local area only to attend WODAC shows, twice in the Midrand and once in Pietermaritzburg. It was at the latter show that a Richards Bay resident approached Cluny in the hopes of resolving a feral cat problem in Richards Bay.

It is well known the world over that the sterilization of dogs and cats is fundamental to successful animal welfare interventions. The USA, behind the initiative of mass welfare sterilization campaigns since the 1990s, have convincing statistics showing a significant decrease in all forms of animal welfare interventions, especially euthanasia, in keeping with a parallel increase in sterilizations.

Feral cat and kittens rescue, sterilizations and rehoming, Clarens ~ photo by Mary Walker

Our assignment in Richards Bay is for the purpose of mass sterilizations in three different feral cat colonies. Uncontrolled breeding of cats in feral colonies leads to a host of problems, both to the neighbouring communities and to the colony cats themselves. Cats lose condition quickly in overpopulated colonies, becoming emaciated and more susceptible to disease. These diseases spread easily to domestic cats in the surrounding areas. Controlling the inevitable breeding in the colonies and ultimately reducing the number of colony members through natural attrition is the incentive behind such programmes as this.

The concerned citizen from Richards Bay, who approached Cluny, has taken on all the arrangements for this project – a huge task! She has arranged funding to cover all the costs, has organized accommodation and meals for the Team, will provide several volunteers and is arranging the trapping of the cats prior to each day’s clinic at each of the three locations.

The route that the Mobile Operating Theatre and the Cluny Team will take to Richards Bay ~ image from Google Earth

The Mobile Operating Theatre and the Cluny Team will be leaving early on the morning of Thursday 1 December and will arrive in Richards Bay late on the same day. Three days have been set aside for sterilizations, one day at each location. The return to Fouriesburg is scheduled for Monday 5 December.

Dr Katherine Barker sterilizing a dog in the Mobile Operating Theatre (the official veterinary name is Mobile Surgical Facility) ~ photo by Mary Walker

Cluny Animal Trust’s veterinarian, Dr Katherine Barker, expresses her gratitude to the State for providing and funding, for the duration of this project, the services of a CCS (Compulsory Community Services) veterinarian from Qwa Qwa, who will be joining the Cluny Team.

We will post accounts of progress and pictures to our Facebook for the duration of the Richards Bay assignment.


Text by Mary Walker

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