CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Human beings aren’t the only victims of Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe’s famine-inducing policy of land theft and murder. Farm animals also are being terrorized and abused by state-sanctioned bands of henchmen.

Mugabe’s men are locking horses in corrals and lighting them on fire, slaughtering rhinos and cutting off one leg of every cow they find and then eating the cattle alive, according to eyewitness reports inside Zimbabwe.

According to these reports, domestic and farm animals are dying horrific deaths because the so-called “war veterans” are using the abuse to warn farmers not to return to their farms after being evicted. Dogs reportedly are being hung alive on hooks from farm gates, and children’s pet ponies are having one hoof chopped off to serve as proof of what would happen to the white farmers themselves.

In many cases, farmers have under an hour to leave their properties, thus domestic and farm animals most often are left on the farms in the hope that they can be rescued later. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case. Domestic animals are sometimes locked up in the farmhouses, drinking from the toilets and shower drains, and suffering a slow death from starvation. Livestock are left without water and food, and the cows remain unmilked, causing a dreadful, slow death. When the fields are burned, animals are left inside the paddocks, and horses, cows and sheep die in the flames, or worse, suffer terrible burn wounds.

One animal-protection official – who asked that his name not be used because of Mugabe’s retribution against those who oppose his tactics – told WorldNetDaily, “Our group became involved in April last year when [Mugabe’s] ‘squatters’ or ‘war vets’ took over farms. At that stage, we had no idea that the attacks on animals, farmers and their workers would be a regular occurrence,” the official explained.

“There were six animals involved in the first farm attack. They were all beaten brutally. A Great Dane bitch and a Ridgeback male did not survive. Mini, a Labrador, and Minstrel, a Ridgeback, made good recoveries, but Bonzo, a Lab, had an eye removed. Black Jack, a Great Dane, suffered the most. He had a fractured skull, perforated ears, eyes and a fractured tibia. He had a 12-inch gash on top of his head. He made remarkable recovery but will be blind for life. This was all recorded by local TV camera people on the scene.”

Continued the official, “The attacks began in August. A great number of farmhouses were totally ransacked, destroyed or burnt. The people perpetrating these atrocities have no farming knowledge and no feelings for animals. It is not just domestic animals but horses, sheep, pigs and cattle that are suffering. Many dogs have been abducted, beaten or shot – all very traumatized!”

John Redfern of the Flame Lily Foundation is coordinating the acceptance of donations to help Zimbabwe’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals care for the animals amid the growing crisis in Zimbabwe.

Thus far, the Zimbabwe Pet Rescue Project is seeking to pay vet and fuel bills and buy medical supplies through a company in Zimbabwe that distributes these supplies to the rescue operators.

One South African professional active in the field of animal cruelty told WorldNetDaily, “We have a stupendous amount of animal cruelty, and we have ground to a halt with the ability to raise funds.”

Said another South African animal advocate: “We avoid at all costs any political stand, as this would jeopardize our project, so all we can do is ask the media to help publicize what we do in the hope that the community can support us in our endeavor.”

Farm animals aren’t the only type in jeopardy due to terror in Zimbabwe.

Forty black rhinos are at risk of poaching on Gourlays Ranch, which is a part of the official national strategy for black rhino conservation. Ten black rhinos arrived on Gourlays Ranch in 1987 in a Zimbabwe government attempt to halt the extinction of the species. The animals quickly adapted to their new home on 42,000 acres of natural habitat. They bred at the highest rate of any rhino project on private game farms in the nation.

From 1987 to 2001, only one rhino died – and that was of old age. The herd is rated by some as the best in the country. Zoologists from the Center of Endangered Species at the San Diego Zoo repeatedly visit the ranch to study the animals and to donate funds for their protection.

According to eyewitnesses inside Zimbabwe, in February 2000, supposed Mugabe war veterans invaded the Gourlays Ranch and many other farm properties across the country. They built their huts where they pleased, and the territorial rhinos were forced to live in smaller areas. The reduced habitat causes fighting between the territorial bulls. A bull rhino recently died due to the stressed conditions.

Last week, the war veterans invaded and barricaded the ranch and demanded the eviction of the family who has owned the land for 15 years. They threatened to kill the family and all the employees and burn the buildings unless the owners vacate the property within a week. Over the weekend, they intensified their demands, and the family was forced to move on Saturday.

The residents that remain, the black rhinos, now face death by poaching. The loss of the rhinos on one property, it is thought, would push the species close to extinction status. The gene pool will be extinguished, it is predicted, and as much as 10 percent of the black rhinos in Zimbabwe will die. This after 15 years of conservationists working to get the numbers up to a reasonable level.

The Flame Lily Foundation can be contacted via e-mail.

Previous stories:

White farmer describes land seizure

Neighbors fear fallout from Mugabe tyranny

Zimbabwe falls further into arnarchy

African group sees ‘calm’ in Zimbabwe

International community turns on Mugabe

Land-grab policy causes Zimbabwe famine

Tales of Mugabe’s rural cleansing

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