Alfred Ntando Sihwa

Research, 2022, Grantee Link >

Alfred Ntando Sihwa is the founder and director of Sibanye Animal Welfare and Conservancy Trust (SAWCT). He received a grant for research into how modern laws and traditional practices affect animal welfare in Zimbabwe. Alfred writes:

The main reason for this project is to identify how traditional practices act as a hindrance to, or promote, animal welfare in Zimbabwe. This project has come into being after realizing the gap that exists between the traditional and modern communities in animal welfare–related care and the humane treatment of animals.

In his final report, Alfred discovered a range of traditional laws and practices that encouraged animal welfare: that some animals were considered sacred and untouchable; that meat was considered a delicacy to be eaten only on special occasions; that a traditional court would fine animal abusers; and that hunting was regulated by the seasons. These practices meant that certain animals were treated with respect. That said, Alfred also observed that traditional laws were by no means perfect: for instance, animal skins were worn, including some, such as leopards, that are now highly endangered due to the demand for the skins worldwide.

Modern laws, by contrast, he found, were often out-of-date, some stemming from 1963, and revised only in 1995. These laws, he noted, did not cover some species and practices—such as the transportation of pigs and chickens. Slaughter protocols and fish farming didn’t exist, and the penalties for law-breakers were vague.

After conducting his research with veterinarians, owners of slaughterhouses, politicians, university lecturers, and local people, Alfred presented his findings at Lupane State University and to the Zimbabwean government and advocated for policy review and change. At the university, students were encouraged to pursue further research on traditional methods of raising animals; at the ministry, the chief director of the Department of Veterinary Services suggested that the Animal Health Act could be revisited. Alfred hopes that wider as well as deeper research into traditional practices and modern laws might further animal welfare in Zimbabwe.

In addition to this project, Alfred has conducted research on traditional plant-based meals found throughout Africa.