Who We Are
Animal Law Reform South Africa (“ALRSA”) is a non-profit company and registered NPO. We were informally established in 2014 by a group of lawyers interested in animal protection. In 2017, Animal Law Reform South Africa was formally registered by lawyers from academia, practice and civil society. Attorney Amy P. Wilson and Professors David Bilchitz and Bonita Meyersfeld, are co-founders and directors of the board of ALRSA. Together, they have a broad range of expertise and decades of experience in both human and animal legal issues.
Utilising the law as our tool, we work on intersectional issues to ensure justice for all who require it. Through our main pillars, as well as through collaboration, we believe we can achieve incremental change for vulnerable beings and ensure that their interests are accounted for in the legal system.
We intend to operate as an organisation that can be approached by all relevant stakeholders ranging from animal rights, welfare and protection organisations to the government. We are willing to engage with those involved in the utilisation of animals to better their conditions and protection, while holding industry accountable. We therefore take a collaborative and not isolative approach and will work together, provided it falls within our mission and goals.
Animal Law Reform South Africa envisages a society whose laws, courts and enforcement agencies advance the protection and well-being of humans, non-human animals and the environment.
Our Pillars and Focus Areas
We work through three main pillars: Animal Wellbeing; Law; and Social Justice.
We focus on a few key areas that we believe will bring about the most change. These focus areas include:
Legislative and Policy Reform; Litigation and Legal Services; and Education and Research.
- Connect issues relating to the law, animal wellbeing and social justice
- Achieve the highest level of protection of both nonhuman animals and human animals utilising the legal system and related avenues
- Strengthen and develop legislation and policy relating to animal and human protection in South Africa and Africa
- Litigate cases which will have a strategic value in advancing animal wellbeing and protection and social justice movements in South Africa and Africa
- Provide access to legal services, advice and assistance to animal, human and environmental groups, organisations
- Educate relevant stakeholders on animal law and protection including lawyers, learners, students, professors, veterinarians, law enforcement agencies, government officials and other individuals and organisations and equipping them with the requisite knowledge to tackle issues relating thereto
- Undertake and promote research and academic output in the field of animal law and related subject matter
- Sensitise those in legal, animal, human, environmental and social justice fields to the overlap and interconnection between these fields and potential to enhance all these efforts through collaborative efforts
- Provide a platform and network for animal, human and social justice movements by connecting relevant individuals, organisations and others
- Collaborate with relevant stakeholders on certain matters in order to achieve meaningful and lasting change.
We are made up of a core team consisting of our board of directors including non-executive directors and an executive director and a few key institutional consultant officers who assist with research, administration and financial matters.
We have additional consultants working on key projects and providing advice and assistance on an ad hoc basis.
In addition, we work with legal professionals, experts, students, NGOs, coalitions, volunteers and other stakeholders on a broad variety of issues.
Legal Research Consultant
Cheslyn is a proud graduate of The University of the Western Cape (UWC) completing a Bachelor of Laws degree in 2018. He completed a Master’s degree in Environmental law with a focus on Climate Change in 2020 from his alma mater. Cheslyn has been a Graduate Lecturing Assistant and Coordinator at the Law Faculty of UWC, thereafter becoming an educator at Boston College and City Campus.
In 2021 he was a part time lecturer at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) while working on various research projects and commentary for The Coalition of African Animal Welfare Organizations (CAAWO) and Animal Law Reform South Africa (ALRSA) respectively.
Cheslyn is a recipient of the Growth Bursary from the Global Environmental Law Centre (GELC) and is currently pursuing a doctorate degree with a focus on Animal Welfare in Animal Agriculture at UWC.
Co-Founder: Professor Bonita Meyersfeld
Bonita Meyersfeld is a human rights lawyer and academic. She is an associate professor at Wits Law School and from 2012 to 2017 she was the director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies. She is an editor and chair of the board of the South African Journal on Human Rights and the founding member and chair of the board of Lawyers against Abuse. Bonita obtained her LLB (cum laude) from Wits and her masters and doctorate in law from Yale Law School. Bonita teaches and publishes in the areas of international law, business and human rights, women’s rights and international criminal law. She is the author of the book, Domestic Violence and International Law. Prior to Wits Bonita worked in human rights law in the House of Lords and has worked at various non-governmental organisations in the United States, the United Kingdom and South Africa. Bonita has presented expert statements to various UN fora and was appointed by the Government of Ecuador as part of a five member expert panel to provide guidance to the Inter-Governmental Working Group on a binding instrument for business and human rights.
Bonita has been appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Mérite (Knight of the National Order of Merit) by the President of the French Republic in honour of her work on human rights and gender-based violence.