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UCT researcher sets the record straight on dead caged piglets found by SPCA

22 April 2021 4:02 PM
Tags:
SPCA
UCT fire
caged animal
piglets

A UCT researcher says the Cape of Good Hope SPCA got the story wrong when it posted about the remains of two piglets discovered near upper campus.

UPDATE: SPCA: Investigation into dead caged piglets discovered near UCT still ongoing

SPCA inspectors have been attending to injured and displaced wild animals that have been affected by the devastating fires along parts of Table Mountain.

On Wednesday, the animal welfare organisation said it had discovered the burnt remains of two piglets, each separately padlocked in a cage, near UCT’s upper campus.

In a Facebook post, the SPCA initially claimed that the animals were "left out in the open, without shelter, food or water for an undetermined period of time" before they died in the blazing wildfire.

However, Dr. Marise Heyns from UCT says this is far from the truth.

According to Dr. Heyns, the pig carcasses formed part of an ongoing Ph.D. research project in forensic entomology.

Using pigs, forensic entomologists can better understand how bodies decompose by studying the insects that feed on the cadavers. This helps experts estimate time of death during crime investigations.

Dr. Heyns says the piglets were already dead prior to the fire. They did not suffer and were not tortured, as claimed by the SPCA.

The forensic entomologist explains that the two stillborn piglets were placed inside the cages as part of the study gathering data on decomposition rates.

She tells CapeTalk that the research project is "totally above board and ethically approved" by SANParks and UCT.

The SPCA has since updated its original Facebook post to include the new information from UCT's forensic entomology research team.

"We will engage further with the forensic entomology research team at UCT with regards to this incident", the SPCA wrote on its website.

I am very disappointed in an organisation like the SPCA... that they didn't establish the facts before claiming that these little piglets were facing no food, no water, and facing the fire, which is not true.

Dr. Marise Heyns, Senior Lecturer - Division of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology - UCT

They were already deceased, they were stillborn and they were deployed in the cages and padlocked to prevent theft and scavenging, and predators because that would alter the results of the data we get from the decomposing carcass.

Dr. Marise Heyns, Senior Lecturer - Division of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology - UCT

This is an ongoing research project in forensic entomology and taphonomy where we are trying to collect baseline data that will assist us in determining the postmortem interval of deceased [persons].

Dr. Marise Heyns, Senior Lecturer - Division of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology - UCT

We deploy stillborn piglets in these cages and then we daily collect the insects that are active around the decomposing carcass which provides lots of information from the decomposition site.

Dr. Marise Heyns, Senior Lecturer - Division of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology - UCT

One of the reasons we decided to do the project on stillborn piglets was so that no animal would be purposefully harmed for this project.

Dr. Marise Heyns, Senior Lecturer - Division of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology - UCT

Listen to the discussion on Lunch with Pippa Hudson:




22 April 2021 4:02 PM
Tags:
SPCA
UCT fire
caged animal
piglets

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