Working towards a more compassionate world through education and advocacy

"I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good

therefore that I can do, or any kindness or abilities that I

can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me

not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again".


– William Penn

Humane Education Trustees

Louise Van der Merwe

Louise van der Merwe is Editor of Animal Voice, Managing Trustee of The Humane Education Trust and Representative in South Africa for the international NGO Compassion in World Farming. She has worked to raise awareness of the plight of animals, especially farmed animals, since 1989 and is the recipient of three awards acknowledging her contribution to Humane Education. 

Amy P. Wilson


A trustee of The Humane Education Trust, Amy P. Wilson is an attorney and the first South African to receive an LLM degree in Animal Law from the prestigious Lewis & Clark Law School in Oregon, USA. She is currently a Fellow at the law school’s Aquatic Animal Law Initiative and assists with the Animal Law Clinic. She is a director of the South African based NGOs Animal Law Reform South Africa and Coalition of African Animal Welfare Organisations. See links to some of her work here:


  • “Animal Law in South Africa – Until the lions have their own lawyers, the law will continue to protect the hunter”: dA.Derecho Animal (Forum of Animal Law Studies) 2019, vol.10/5:

  • “South Africa’s Fallen Pride: How Law and Government Fail to Protect the Country’s Fabled Lions”

The Revelator (An Initiative of the Center for Biological Diversity) Website, May 2019:

  • “Swimming Against the Current: Advocating for Aquatic Animals”

Lewis & Clark Law School Website (Center for Animal Law Studies), September 2020:

We at Animal Voice recognise:


1 . That modern industrialised human activities are impacting negatively on the systems that support life across that planet, impose unnecessary suffering on human and non-human animals alike, and that a new value system recognising our place within nature is required if mankind is to sustain the natural systems upon which we ultimately depend;


2 . The sentient nature of all animals, whether wild or domesticated, and their consequent interests in remaining in their natural habitat, free from pain, cruelty, bodily manipulation and other forms of abuse;


3 . That society's treatment of animals, whether wild or domesticated, is inseparable from its treatment of people and that overwhelming evidence now shows that the roots of violence and abuse in human communities are very often embedded in childhood experiences of cruelty to animals;


4 . Given an informed choice, people will naturally reject cruelty and exploitation, and that where abuse and cruelty are institutionalised as part of modern industrial capitalism, such behaviours do not reflect the considered value system of an engaged society.




Animal Voice operates through the Humane Education Trust (HET), a registered charitable organisation, and is committed to bringing about a more caring and compassionate society through education and advocacy.


We work towards the adoption of a humane, non-violent, anti-cruelty approach to the treatment of animals consonant with respect for and promotion of all the rights set out in the South African Constitution. We do this through education programs targeted at the youth, adults, educators, policy makers, government, industry and the broader public, and through various advocacy campaigns, which aim to establish and sustain best practices across a range of animal use industries, and with the natural world at large.


Contemporary forms of industrialised animal agriculture constitute the largest contemporary instance of cruelty to animals.  Intensive animal husbandry has also been shown to be a major driver of habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, resource depletion, pollution and climate change. It is not clear that modern farming practices actually improve food security. It is clear that urgent and immediate reform is required.


Animal Voice and The Humane Education Trust represent Compassion in World Farming in Southern Africa in it’s work to educate industry and consumers, and to more generally reform agriculture so as to provide a sustainable and safe food supply, without externalising massive costs on the environment, communities and the farmed animals themselves.


Animal Voice campaigns actively for the elimination of all forms of animal cruelty. Whilst we will continue to strive for this ultimate goal, we also believe that the immediate abolition of all forms of animal exploitation is unfortunately not imminent, and therefore an advocacy strategy which reject incremental welfare improvements in favour of total reform is to condemn all animals, especially the massive numbers of individuals currently in the food chain and those who will suffer this fate in the foreseeable future, to terrible and often avoidable abuse.


It is our view that incremental improvements can mitigate the extent and nature of suffering in the short term, and are not always incompatible with our ultimate goal of eliminating cruelty altogether. We are mindful that some organisations in the animal use economy can and do attempt to frustrate genuine animal welfare and rights reform, through insincere public commitment to limited and marginal improvements in welfare. Such efforts occasionally take the form of the misrepresentation of welfare standards and manipulation of publicity surrounding incremental improvement.


We reject and challenge such publicity campaigns where appropriate, and will continue to work towards both genuine incremental reform, and the ultimate end of all animal exploitation. We recognise the right of other animal interest organisations to hold different views, and pursue different strategies accordingly.


Animal Voice magazine  is a voice for the voiceless.  We expose the truth behind animal injustices in South Africa, as well as shine a light on the brave activists who  make a difference  to the lives of animals.  Animal Voice is the only national magazine in South Africa dedicated to achieving better lives for farmed animals through consumer awareness and their buying power.




Humane Education’s Caring Classrooms programme provides resources and  presents workshops for teachers aimed at awakening a sense of empathy and developing core values.  By rekindling the spirit of care and respect for all life, learners find a new sense of  self-esteem and confidence. Our programme is curriculum-aligned and SETA accredited.   “How we treat animals and how we treat each other are two stems that grow from the same root. If there are thorns of neglect, contempt or cruelty on one, we can be sure to find them  on the other”  - Ronald Swartz..




Compassion in World Farming (South Africa) concentrates on the welfare of farmed animals. We work at government and retail level to achieve improvements for farmed animals and put an end to cruel factory farming. We create awareness about industrialised farming, empowering consumers  to make a difference through their buying power. We engage industry, farmer organizations and retailers in finding solutions and alternatives to the inhumane system of factory farming.   In doing so we bring about better lives for farmed animals.

Compassion in World Farming aims to put an end to cruel factory farming. Farm animal welfare and wellbeing is at the heart of all we do. Together with our supporters and focused staff, we are making this happen.


Compassion in World Farming (South Africa) falls under the umbrella of The Humane Education Trust which supplies a magazine entitled Animal Voice, as well as educational resources to schools, consumers and the public at large.


Our work is holistic and includes the well-being of children, as much as of animals. In addition, we appeal to consumers to make a difference to our planet through their buying power.


Find out how you can help and join us in actively reforming the nation into informed compassionate consumers for billions of farm animals suffering in South Africa...



  • We lobby government (e g Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), industry (e g SA Pork Producers Organisation, SA Poultry Association, the Milk Producers Organisation), farmer organisations (eg AgriSA, the Biodynamic Agricultural Association of Southern Africa), retailers and consumers, to bring about better lives for farm animals.


  • We create public awareness of cruel farming systems that impact negatively on the well-being of farm animals as well as human health, sustainability and climate change. This is achieved primarily through social media and through our quarterly national magazine Animal Voice which, in turn, generates interest from mainstream media (radio, television and print media).


  • We engage and co-operate with other stakeholders in finding solutions and alternatives to the current systems of factory farming.


  • In 2012, Compassion(SA) introduced its first-ever national award for farming excellence in regard to the ethical treatment of farmed animals. This will become an annual award to be presented on World Food Day.


  • In 2014, Compassion in World Farming awards its Good Egg Award to Woolworths in acknowledgement of the retailer’s ongoing commitment to leading the free range egg industry in South Africa.


  • In 2014, in banning gestation crates for pregnant sows, Woolworths gives credit to Compassion in World Farming (SA) which lobbied to achieve this since 1997.

Louise Van der Merwe

Louise van der Merwe is Founder and Editor of Animal Voice, Founder and Managing Trustee of The Humane Education Trust and Representative in South Africa for the international NGO Compassion in World Farming.




She has worked to raise awareness of the plight of animals, especially farmed animals, since 1989

and is the recipient of three awards, namely:


2003: Recipient of Campaigner of the Year Award presented by the International Fund for Animal Welfare/ANIMALTALK Magazine


2011: Recipient of a Feather Award Winner’s Trophy (Heroine Category) presented by The Female Tribe and 1st for Women Insurance Brokers for her ‘tireless and selfless work to bring attention to the plight of animals in South Africa and the impact that animal cruelty has on human beings, society and the environment.’ 


2013: Recipient of a City of Cape Town Award in recognition of her ‘outstanding contribution and commitment to humane education and environmental awareness’.


In July 2013, she launched Humane Education workshops for teachers and learners on Constitution Hill as part of Nelson Mandela’s birthday celebrations and these workshops are on-going.


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