TWENTY of the prize Zambian sable that were due to be imported into SA have died in their quarantine pens at the Lusaka National Park due to heavy rains and their inability to move to higher ground.
The sable were due to be airfreighted to SA by February 16 before a court challenge blocked the importation until health regulations, and the requirements for public comment on these, were met .
The 153 sable — with a value of about R1m each — were captured in the Kafue National Park, where three types of foot-and-mouth disease are known to be endemic.
Aitjie van Wyk, one of the importers, said on Tuesday that at times the antelope were wading up to their knees in mud.
Van Wyk said he could not understand why the Red Meat Industry Forum of SA, which brought the court challenge, should object to the importation of the sable, as 40 Zambian sable had been imported into SA in 1999 under less stringent quarantine conditions.
Dave Ford, of the Red Meat Industry Forum, said he had heard some of the sable had died of stress, and he believed the remaining ones should be released back into the wild. “I also strongly believe that if there is a deficient protocol regarding the importation of cloven-hoofed animals, it could see people trying to import cloven-hoofed ruminants into SA, which would prove a deadly threat to our national herd.”
Ford said he had spoken to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and hoped they would get the SPCA in Zambia to keep an eye on the sable.