The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) says investigations are continuing after hundreds of dead birds were discovered on the premises of a prominent parrot breeder in Randburg, Gauteng.

The SPCA says Farmall Parrots was searched after an anonymous tip-off from a member of the public, where they found 20 exotic birds.

While the SPCA initially said that around 150 carcasses had been found while conducting a search of the premises, they now estimate the number of dead birds at closer to 300, with a breeding value of nearly R1 million.

SPCA Inspector Shiven Bodasing says the organisation will be pressing criminal charges against the breeder Antonie Meiring who has since resigned from his role as Vice-Chairman of the Parrot Breeders’ Association of South Africa.

Bodasing said, “The entire facility was infested with rodents. Some of the aviaries and some of the enclosures were so obstructed with spiderwebs that the birds themselves couldn’t fly in those aviaries, they had to actually resort to walking and climbing…”

Chairperson of the Parrot Breeders Association of South Africa, Ben Minaar, says he cannot comment on the condition of the surviving birds as he has not seem them. He added that Meiring offered him an explanation and claimed there was nothing sinister or illegal about the hundreds of bird carcasses found on his property.

Minaar says, “For reasons of his own, he and his late father kept the carcasses of any parrot that died, and they put them in a freezer and at a certain stage. The power went off and he didn’t realise that and the bodies… the carcasses began to decompose and he wanted to keep the carcasses and the DNA on records for future reference so he put all those carcasses out to dry.”

“He says that those photographs are of carcasses that died over decades, and there was no unnatural frequency of deaths or mortality rates in his aviaries. So it looks very, very unpleasant, I must say, but that’s his explanation,” added Minaar.

Bodasing says the SPCA is investigating the causes of death.

Antonie Meiring was not available for comment.