Rabbits are being dumped near a dam in Brackenfell.
There is a “marked increase” in the abandonment of domestic rabbits at Wessel Lourens Dam and the Vredekloof Park, according to Zahid Badroodien, the mayoral committee member for community services and health.
The recreation and parks department had had several complaints in the past few months from residents about rabbits being dumped, he said.
A video, shot in June and posted on social media by resident Antoinette Scholtz, shows 12 guinea pigs, five rabbits and two chickens that had been dumped at the park.
Brackenfell CID manager Leon Brynard said this had been going on for a couple of years.
“Last year, three bunnies were dumped. The CID has always said to the people they cannot keep or leave animals in public open spaces.”
The SPCA and City law enforcement were investigating, he said. “The City phoned me today and said their law enforcement was following up and looking at possibilities of a fine and even a criminal offence.”
SPCA spokeswoman Belinda Abrahams did not respond to questions by time of publication.
The rabbits were bred as household pets and when abandoned struggled to adjust, making them prone to infections, some of which could be passed on to the humans, Dr Badroodien said.
“In addition, rabbits are known to dig holes and underground channels, which could weaken a dam wall or retention structures of water bodies. Holes dug by rabbits could also pose a threat to residents, who frequently visit the park to relax or exercise,” he said.
Illegally abandoned a pet rabbit in a public open space was animal cruelty, he said.
The City was working with the SPCA and the CID to remove the rabbit colony, but the City could not vaccinate, treat or euthanise the animals, he said.