The Centre Point site in Milnerton has again riled residents. This time animal lovers are lamenting the plight of goslings who have been dying in the putrid pool of water in the middle of the site.
Earlier this year, Tabletalk met with the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which manages the project for the property owners, the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), who confirmed that the site was finally being prepared for the long-awaited mall development (“Centre’s point of no return,” Tabletalk, February 24).
Now news has come to light that since the old mall was torn down in March 2013, birds have been found floating belly-up in the mucky green water in what appears to have been the basement of the old mall.
Roben McLeary, of Century City, first heard about the plight of the birds from someone in a block of flats next to the site.
She said the woman had closely followed the birds’ struggle to survive ever since they had first used the vacant site as a nesting ground.
“They lay their eggs on the construction site, and once they hatch the goslings waddle to the pit and get into the water. That water has been stagnating for the last three years already. It’s septic, and the goslings are poisoned by this water and die,” said Ms McLeary.
The Grade 5 teacher has taken a personal interest in trying to save the goslings.
When she first heard about the problem, she visited the site everyday to feed the birds. Last Tuesday, she said six goslings had been spotted at the site and by Sunday all but one had perished.
“When I went there on Tuesday, I saw already one dead one in the water and another unidentified bird floating as well,” she said.
She said Sean de Nobrega, a volunteer for the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), had been very helpful.
“On Wednesday he went to assess the situation, and on Thursday he helped me to look for the goslings after they had left the water. I was panicking because I couldn’t find them anywhere, and he found them hiding away. On Sunday, he came to help me catch the surviving gosling and double checked if the goslings in the water were dead,” she said.
Mr De Nobrega, an ex-game ranger who assists in bird rescues said goslings had a strong instinct to hide.
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“The problem is that body of water is septic, and I’m sure the goslings were poisoned by it. Roben has been great. Not many people give a crap anymore, and she is doing everything in her power to help save these birds,” said Mr De Nobrega.
Ms McLeary has laid a complaint of animal cruelty at the Cape of Good Hope SPCA.
“I don’t want anyone going to prison or anything like that, but I do want these people to be held accountable. They may not know what is going on, but I want them to take ownership now. I think they should do one of three things: either drain the pit regularly; fill it up; or cover it up,” she said.
SPCA spokeswoman Belinda Abraham confirmed that a complaint had been laid.
“We are in the process of conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of the goslings at the Centre Point site in Milnerton. Formal charges have not yet been laid. Egyptian geese usually nest on the ground, close to a water source and a grassed area – it is likely that the Centre Point site meets these needs,” said Ms Abraham.
PIC senior investor relations specialist Sekgoela Sekgoela said the PIC was unaware geese were using the vacant plot as a nesting ground. He said the PIC had also not been made aware of a case of animal cruelty laid against it nor had it been approached by anyone about the complaint.
“The PIC places value on the environment and would do all within its powers to prevent cruelty against animals. The PIC trusts that the issue of nestling geese at the Centre Point site will soon be history as the development of the shopping centre has been approved by the board of the PIC to proceed. The PIC is in the final stages of procuring a contractor to commence with construction. It is the intention of the PIC to have this appointment finalised in time for commencement of construction before the end of June 2016,” said Mr Sekgoela.