South Africa – ‘We don’t know if it’s good to eat moles… ‘
‘We don’t know if it’s good to eat moles… ‘ – January 03 2009 at 12:23PM
Hunting for moles and other small animals to eat has become something of an art for the poor residents of White House Village informal settlement in Belhar, especially among the young boys.
When a Weekend Argus team visited the settlement this week, most of the young boys in the area were out hunting animals for their next meal. They use a combination of sticks with nails, knives, traps and fast reflexes to catch moles, pigeons and even snakes.
And the younger residents of the Belhar informal settlement are not alone in this – residents in many other Cape Flats informal settlements also hunt for food.
‘… as long as there is something in the stomach’
Jonathan Jacobs, 32, of White House Village, said hunting for animals, especially moles, was “normal” to him as he had often eaten them. He is unemployed and collects copper from old radios, television sets and microwaves for cash. But hunting is an easier option for food.
Jacobs said he and his girlfriend and four children all ate moles and were not worried about whether they would make them sick. “We don’t know if it is good to eat moles but as long as there is something in the stomach. It tastes like chicken, it just takes time to prepare.”
According to Jacobs, his children have never been sick from eating moles.
Jerome van der Westhuizen, a leader in the informal settlement, said life was very hard at White House Village. He added that they did not have a problem with the young boys hunting and actually encouraged them to hunt instead of turning to crime.
Another resident, George du Preez, described moles as “very clean animals” because they ate plants. He said he often caught them in his little garden.
‘… who knows what could happen to them?’
Dr Rafiq Khan, a well known Cape Town paediatrician, called the shortage of food and the need to hunt to survive a “social emergency”. “I am extremely shocked to hear that this is the kind of thing these kids have to resort to.
“It is not part of the human diet and the consequences of protein from the wild in the diet are dangerous – who knows what could happen to them?”
“If they are being exposed to this kind of food we will end up with casualties of all kinds from weird diseases because we don’t know what these animals eat.”
Khan said because children were the most vulnerable to diseases such as malnutrition, eating wild animals could have a negative impact on their growth and development. He added that the government needed to step in urgently.
Allan Perrins, CEO of the SPCA in the Western Cape, said they had not heard of this kind of “survival crime”. “We need to remind the public that they could find themselves on the wrong side of the law by hunting wildlife without proper permission and by means of cruel methods, especially in protected wild areas.
“The law does not differentiate between species and we will react to any acts of cruelty towards any animal, even a mole or a snake, some of which are in fact a protected and threatened species.
“We would also caution against ‘eating anything that moves’ for a variety of reasons, not least the spread of disease.”
He said they would now investigate the matter and embark on a preventative educational campaign.
Perrins said they had heard of a similar matter a few months ago when builders working on a construction site near the airport were braaiing what looked like a wild animal. They discovered that the men had eaten road kill.
Meanwhile, Anneke Brits, spokeswoman for the organisation Cat Pals in Gauteng, has reported a noticeable increase in the number of cats caught in traps set by homeless people who slaughter and eat them.