As this is being written, hired "career" gunmen are shooting "alien"animals on Robben Island, which started on 12th October, after the tourist buses leave, from dusk to dawn every day, until all are dead.   The "crime" that these animals have committed is that they are considered to be "aliens" and therefore not worthy of life.  What exactly is an "alien?"  The rabbits were brought to Robben Island in 1656, during Jan van Riebeeck's time, as a food source for the seamen on passing ships. Surely by now they are no longer "alien?"  Other "aliens" are the Fallow Deer, brought to South Africa by Cecil John Rhodes over one hundred years ago. Rhodes bought the land and  established a Park on the slopes of Table Mountain, which he left in his will to the people of South Africa to enjoy.  According to research conducted by Adopt-a Pet's founder, Rhodes was homesick for England and  together with Sir Herbert Baker, created an English Park, with animals, birds, flowers and trees imported from England to remind him of "home."  However, a contradictory point of view is expresssed by the conservationists in charge of the Table Mountain National Park, who state that they are now attempting to "Africanise" the Park  "in terms of Rhodes' will."   Having painstakingly gone through Rhodes' will, there is no mention whatsoever by Rhodes of any desire to "Africanise" "his" park.

The Fallow Deer on Robben Island were descendants of those brought to South Africa by Rhodes. These deer were said to have been introduced to Robben Island during the prison period, for hunting purposes by prison personnel.  There are also feral cats on the Island, probably left behind by the personnel who lived on the Island during the prison period.   According to press reports there are also "too many guinea fowl."   We believe that a contract has been signed with a hunter to shoot all the Fallow Deer and sell the meat.  These Deer have been fed (and fattened up) by a very kind game reserve owner, who has spent about R400,000 of his personal funds feeding them during the past year, when they and the other animals on the Island were starving to death and collapsing from weakness in front of tourists. 

The terribly sad part of this account is that the lives of all these animals (or many of them) could have been saved. They could have been sterilised so that they could not breed and relocated to safe, enclosed sanctuaries to live out the remainder of their lives in peace.  Sanctuaries were offered by kind people for these animals, but CapeNature would not grant permits for the animals to leave the Island alive. Currently, in conservation circles, anything termed "alien" has to be eradicated/killed/exterminated.   These innocent "alien" animals who were brought to the Island by man and as a result of mismangement have bred so that their numbers have exceeded the carrying capacity of the Island, are now not allowed to leave the Island to live elsewhere in safety.  We have coined the phrase "Eco-Xenophobia" to describe this phenomenon.  The Xenophobia (or fear of foreigners) which occurred in mid 2008, is a tragic reminder of mankind's intolerance towards its fellow human beings who are viewed as being "alien" or different .

We appeal to concerned people please to write letters to the newspapers, to lobby their MP's and City Councillors to stop this unimaginable cruelty. 


Robben Island is recognised world-wide as a symbol of peace, of tolerance and the rebirth of respect towards one's fellow human beings.  How can this intolerance and cruelty be happening on Robben Island to living creatures which form part of our world, a world increasingly under threat and facing its 6th extinction?  How can people respect one another if they are unable to respect other species which  share our troubled world?  In its own publication, the Robben Island Museum states that the animals on the Island, including the Fallow Deer and the rabbits are an important component ot the Island's cultural heritage.  Imagine if the Robben Island authorities decided to save the lives of the animals on the Island, to sterilise and relocate them to sanctuaries instead of shooting them.  South Africa would be lauded throughout the word for its compassion not only towards people, but to the animals in its care.  A  tragic missed opportunity!

The photograph below of a young Fallow Deer, growing its new antlers, was taken on a small holding in the Western Cape, one of several who offered to take rescued sterilised Fallow Deer.   Many more sanctuaries could be accessed, but people who have game farms/reserves are afraid of victimisation such as the withholding of permits for indigenous animals by the conservation authorities if they apply for permits for "alien" animals.  At present, the criteria for the granting of permits appears to have been manipulated so that permits for Fallow Deer are only granted to hunting farms, who already have permits for fallow deer. Permits will not be issued to kind people who do not already have permits for Fallow Deer.  

We believe that the Fallow Deer which have graced the area in proximity to Rhodes' Memorial have been relocated to hunting farms, one of which we have identified.  These deer have provided so much pleasure to people over the years, who fed them carrots near Rhodes' Memorial. According to a heritage expert, the Deer formed and integral part of the cultural heritage of Cape Town and people expect to see them there. Instead the slopes  in the immediate surrounds of Rhodes' Memorial are barren and devoid of any animal life. Barriers have been put up everywhere, no doubt to trap the fallow deer.  There is now an air of sadness, desolation and decay about the place.  If one looks carefully, the boma used to capture these gentle and beautiful Fallow Deer can be seen from the Memorial on the slopes below.   What stress these fragile animals  must have undergone during the capture process, only to die from hunters' bullets at the end of an arduous journey. 

Does the Fallow Deer below look like a "weapon of mass destruction? "  Or is it an innocent victim of man's inhumanity?  YOU MUST DECIDE AND LET US KNOW.