I am thrilled to be visiting Cape Town in South Africa this week, to spread the Dead Zone message.
In many ways, South Africa is where the need for my book Dead Zone: Where the Wild Things Were became clear to me. The country is an evident example of how badly wildlife fares in the face of factory farming.
Farm animals here have increasingly been taken off the land and confined in sheds and barns. Commercial fisheries have taken hold of South Africa’s shores, pumping fish out of the sea at an alarming rate – often to feed animals on intensive farms elsewhere.
One of the many victims of this industrialisation is the South African penguin. Over the years, these beautiful creatures have faced many threats, from the harvesting of their eggs and ‘guano’ (manure), to the terrible oil spill in 2000 which left many of them homeless and incapacitated.
Now, the South African penguin is staring down the barrel of extinction. But its biggest threat is none of the above; it’s commercial fishing. In hoovering up tonnes of fish from the sea, we’re actually taking away the penguin’s main source of food.
I discovered this while visiting Boulders Beach along the Cape Peninsula in 2014 to promote Farmageddon. A display board listing the main threats to the survival of the penguin included: ‘reduction of penguin food supply by commercial fishing’. It spurred me on to find out more, and embark on a gruelling two-year investigation, the result of which is now on the shelves.
Despite this, I’ve learnt that people in South Africa are very concerned about where their food comes from, and care deeply about farm animal welfare, so there is great potential for consumer power to drive the sustainable food market forward.
On 13th July, I will be speaking at a Dead Zone event at the Book Lounge in Cape Town, where I will also be in discussion with Dr Joseph Okori, IFAW's Regional Director for Southern Africa. More details about this and other speaking dates can be found on my blog.
I look forward to talking to communities about how we can save threatened species and stop farm animal suffering through our food choices.
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