Remembering Bev Pervan, champion for animals in South Africa


A tribute to Bev on the anniversary of her death.

Bev Pervan died from cancer on 30th April last year, 2016. We remember her today because of the impact she made on animal welfare in South Africa.

Most people go through life making acquaintances. Bev went through life making friends who would die for her. This was because she cared so much for her friends, both human and animal. Watching Bev work with wild animals and birds was a privilege. There is nothing glamorous about wildlife rehab work. It is all about getting bitten, kicked and scratched on a daily basis. Love of animals by itself is not enough. The rehabber needs toughness. And Bev had toughness in spades.

Once, for example, when holding down a struggling vulture for the vet, she suffered a serious laceration to her hand. “That needs some stitches,” commented the vet. Bev had not let go of the struggling bird. “Well put them in,” she replied. So he did put in half a dozen stitches while she continued to hold the bird down, and then the vet resumed his work with the vulture.

On another occasion, she became impatient with me while I battled to subdue a martial eagle, and she tried to catch the powerful bird on her own. This was a mistake and working with wildlife, one pays the price. Those fearsome talons closed around her forearm and penetrated right through. It took me some time to prise open the talons and release her bloodied arm. She then, typically, refused any offer of help and drove off by herself to the doctor in Kuruman to get an anti-tetanus shot.

I wonder if the arrogant, intransigent Northern Cape conservation officials would have dared to invade our sanctuary and illegally confiscate three Caracals had they known what sort of a woman they were up against. They must so many times have regretted the day they decided to “teach these greenies a lesson” in the years that followed the unlawful seizure, as we dragged them through the South African legal system all the way to the Constitutional Court, not once but twice. They learned the hard way that Bev would stop at nothing to protect the animals in her care.

She was a remarkable woman, even more so because she was so tiny. Not even 5 feet tall. I always used to say about her “she is about the same size as Napoleon and look how much trouble he caused!”

Bev Pervan, wildlife champion
Founder of Kalahari Raptor Centre 1998
Co-founder of Campaign Against Canned Hunting circa 2000
Co-founder of Karoo Wildlife Centre 2015
Co-author of book Kalahari Dream

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Campaign Against Canned Hunting (CACH) is at the forefront of efforts to expose the harm being done by an industry whose whole business model is to make egregious cruelty to helpless animals routine. Canned hunting only exists because of a failure of government policy, and then it is ferociously defended by wealthy vested interests. Canned hunting can only be abolished by a sustained campaign to raise awareness, and to change policy. Click to see author's profile.

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