Saving the pigeon sport in South Africa – Part 1


The world is crying out to save the rhino, but here in South Africa it sounds more like saving the pigeon O. The SPCA just do not like most of the sports and hobbies where animals are involved and they will do their utmost to stop these practises. Yes, I agree that certain animal happenings are overdone and that a well-managed balance between cruelty and the hobby/sport must be in the order of the day. I firmly believe in the saying “live and let live” and would love to see this truth in all forms of society. It seems as if a saying like “ hate and lets hate” or “destroy or let it be destroyed” is more applicable in the world today.

Allow me to express my views towards our pigeon sport and the attacks from the SPCA as well as the cruelty against animal campaigners. Let me be straight forward to say that we are giving the SPCA enough ammunition to shoot us and we do not realise it. How are we passing the ammunition?

The history of the world famous Sun City Million Dollar Pigeon Races has shown that it is not a race, but purely survival. I can recall that only the first race had cooler temperatures and a pack of about 25 pigeons dropped together just at about 13h00. After that there were about 2 races that I can recall that was on the edge between a race and survival. All the remaining “survivals”, about thirteen in total, was met with heavy losses. These loses were mainly due to an out of season event, with heat and moulting pigeons being the leading cause of the disasters. The human ability to forget and the greed for money allows the event to be staged again and again. A big mistake!! Only the intelligent will realise that the SPCA DO NOT FORGET. We must note that they are linked worldwide and have got best buddies in the mighty Greenpeace World Movement. Did they get involved in the event at Sun City?.. YES!!… Why did the race move away from there? Sun international did not want to get involved with the animal rights organisations.

Another point that is extremely important is the power of public support, especially towards animals. The human being (if we can call all human) loves animals and their support to these animal movements is very powerful. A force surely to be reckoned with if we continue to scratch in their rears. I stopped to support the Sun City event after the second race as the whole setup was against a fair result, to many pigeons lost and not to the benefit of pigeon racing. Was it any good for pigeon racing in South Africa? No, it made us the dumping ground of thousands of pigeons that was sold after the event over the years with no real growth in the quality of pigeon in our country. It rather drained our fanciers of much needed cash. Branding our sport as an expensive sport to get into, thus limiting growth in the membership numbers. Add to this, is the example it set to other one loft races being established and more money coming out of the pockets of our fanciers in South Africa. By this you can see why the fanciers are financially strained. The amount of fanciers leaving the sport the last six years seems to surpass the 2000 mark.  A hand must come over these races as it is greed motivated and is killing the sport without us seeing it. Show me the fancier to whom these races brought profit .This lucky one is not even a drop in the bucket of the entries.

The news on the front pages last week that the government is stopping pigeon racing and banning the racing pigeon gives a clear indication that the anti-cruelty organisations have got friends in government. Now I also want to say to those who always say that SANPO means nothing to the pigeon sport –It is SANPO that stood up to these organisations for some time now. It is SANPO that defused this banning overnight to ensure the continuation of our sport.

To save our sport we will have to be one step ahead of these animal rights campaigners and show them that we can and want to contribute to make the sport more pigeon friendly by adjusting our way of thinking. Get away from the “money ” attitude. It is this word “money” that is killing the sport. It allows us to create events that is not in the interest of the pigeon and that is just upsetting the SPCA. We must get out of our old fashioned ways of conducting the sport.  Get out of our narrow minded grove that money is the only way to make pigeon racing interesting.

Why do we have to race for these astronomical high prize moneys in every Sale Race and One Loft event? How big is the profits to the organisers? All coming from the pockets of the fanciers.

There are just to many money races that is draining the fanciers and regularly we hear of another loft somewhere in the country. SANPO must have a controlling hand over these lofts. If not controlled, means that anyone can open such a loft for own financial gain. I do not see this unprofessional practise in South African rugby, cricket or even horse racing. There should be a structure in South Africa controlled by SANPO. Only a few super money events should be allowed that falls within the acceptance of the guidelines of SANPO and the SPCA. Summer racing should be a definite no-no, as we have seen in all these international lofts the catastrophic results on the main events. The SPCA don’t like it.


A) One or two international one loft races should be welcome in South Africa.The races must be presented in the winter months. The SPCA will appreciate it. Only the best 10% birds on points should be sold afterwards. Months after events there are still some of these lofts arranging sales to sell pigeon they sit with. All for money!!! You are only sucking the fanciers dry. Why don’t the organisers breed with these pigeons if they were any good.

B) Two to three other lofts under the control of SANPO and to the partial benefit of SANPO should operate and not over populated like in the past. SPCA will like this. Only sell the best pigeons after the event.

C) No other private one loft races should be allowed. It just sucks more money from the fanciers and frustrates the SPCA.

D) Unions, Federations and Clubs should function on limited prize moneys,pools and trophies. Prize moneys should come from the fanciers at equal contributions. Retain 20% of all prize moneys for club/organisation funds.

E) Avoid the money sucking Sale Races, R1000 /R500/R100 ring races, as 96% fanciers lose their money. Many of these pigeons are lost before the race anyway. Money in the water. This is one of the reasons why we lose fanciers and why the sport is branded as expensive.

A basic framework must be created and controlled by SANPO for the one race lofts ,as well as the Unions,Federations and Clubs .This framework must include the following:

a) Which one race lofts may operate in SA

b) An acceptable time to host the events (winter/summer)

c) Fees to participate per event

d) Population per loft

e) Any other points to keep the SPCA on our side

This example above will please the SPCA,  keep excitement in the sport, offer only the best pigeons for sale and control the mad spending of the household money of the families. I call it “steeling from the kids”.

The bottom line is that the SPCA will change the sport for us, if we do not get our act together. Let them see we are doing something about it out of our own. We are in the end of the day the people that should know something about keeping and managing pigeons the correct way. The leadership should come from us!

In my next article on this subject, I will give my views towards our current racing season and the damage it brings to the pigeon and our sport’s status in the eye of the SPCA

Contact Details

Address: 111 George Street, Kimberley 8301, South Africa
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