Published: Sunday 15 August 1999

About 5,000 protestors demonstrated outside a game merchant's ranch in South Africa, demanding the release of 14 baby elephants. The owner of these elephants had been reprimanded by the court last year for cruel treatment to the animals. The protestors had gathered in response to a television programme which had flashed images of young elephants being beaten.

The protest turned violent when some of the demonstrators tried to force open the gate and slip inside the ranch. The rest, however, obeyed the pleas made by officials of the National Association of Societies for the prevention of cruelty to Animals. "People's emotions were charged. They were angry," said Penny Kinnear, who had organised the protest after watching the television images.

Cape Town residents circulated a petition asking the president Thabo Mbeki to declare elephants 'sentiant'- or 'conscious'-beings. Meanwhile, the owner of the African Game Service, Riccardo Gazzo has apologised for his cruel behaviour towards the elephants.

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