National SPCA patron Nelson Mandela
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2013:
Nelson Mandela, 95, died on December 5, 2013 at his home in
Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa. Active in the African National
Congress from the introduction of apartheid in 1948, Mandela was
imprisoned from 1962 to 1990, serving 18 of the 27 years at Robben
Island, near Cape Town. Elected president of the ANC in 1991, Mandela
in 1994 became the first president of post-apartheid South Africa,
retiring in 1999.
Withdrawing gradually from public life, Mandela remained
patron-in-chief of the National Council of SPCAs at his death, a post
he had held for nearly 20 years.
“In time we must bestow on South Africa the greatest gift––a
more humane society,” Mandela said. The Cape Town-based Humane
Education Trust made extensive use of the quote in support of the South
African national humane education program, introduced in 2003.
Mandela also attended the release of a troupe of baboons who had
been kept in a laboratory into the Shambala Game Reserve. The baboons
had been rehabilitated by the late Rita Miljo (1931-2012), founder of
the Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education, against the advice
of the National Council of SPCAs and South African wildlife officials
that they could not be returned to the wild.
In addition, Mandela in 2001 opened a gate to allow 40
elephants to pass from Kruger National Park in South Africa to an
adjoining area in Mozambique, as part of the creation of the
13,510-square-mile Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou transborder park, also
including Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe.
But Mandela was not deeply involved in animal issues. In 1991
he reportedly shot both an impala and a blesbok as guest of KaNgwane
(Bantustan) conservation officials.
Neither was Mandela a vegetarian, though he had prominent
vegetarian friends, including the chef Bakshi Vemulakonda, formerly
director of catering for Air India, and the spiritual leader Chinmoy
Kumar Ghose (1931-2007).