Once Safari Club International banned canned lion hunting to its members, the writing was on the wall, hundreds and thousands of lions were going to die as lion breeders cashed in on the body parts trade.
A month ago over a 100 lions were slaughtered in the Free State. Now the Department of Environment has issued a permit for 1,500 lions to be killed for the body parts.
These body parts are shipped legally to China and will then be relabeled Tiger Bones and sold for medicinal purposes in the Chinese markets.
The ramifications for the wild tiger are huge and only time will tell the full impact on the wild populations of Tigers.
The Politicians who took this decision obviously did not take the impact this would have on wild tigers and indeed any wild cats into accounts. I can only think there are other motivating factors behind this decision.
The canned lion industry started by the Apartheid Government, expanded by the ANC Government, is a sad reflection of South Africa's attitude to wild animals, “If they pay, they stay, if they don’t, then slaughter them for profit”.
If the United Nations introduces a "cruelty rating", South Africa will be very high on that list.
I saw Botswana move many white rhinos from South Africa to Botswana. I marveled at Malawi who relocated 500 elephant to a new park. Surely we could have got 200 lions back into the wild from the 7000 in captivity.
However in the case of Botswana and Malawi, they had political will and leadership, we had none!
Cultural Exchange and Story Telling:
I have added the activity of cultural exchange and story telling to my safaris. Apart from photographing big cats, guests will meet with Glad Khoza who will explain the complex workings of the Shangaan Lobola System.
Elmon Mhlongo will tell guests how when the helicopter was falling to the ground in 1995 in Luangwa Valley, he decided to jump and roll clear of the crash. Only Willlie Sibuya’s quick thinking changed Elmon's mind at the last second.
Riekie Pieterse will tell guests how in the floods of 2011, the aggressive male Tiger Corbett, charged him through the water. Riekie’s ability to chuff Corbett and calm him down, undoubtedly saved Riekie's life. It remains an incredible piece of “interspecies communication”.
Phindi Mathebula will tell guests how her and her friend Lilian, went to the Sabi River to get water. As Lilian bent down to draw the water, the croc grabbed her and pulled her into the water, drowning her in the river.
These stories from Africa, told by Africans will greatly enrich your safari.
I have been involved in three campaigns where social media has greatly affected the outcome. When Cecil, the biggest lion in Africa, was wounded by an arrow and then shot with a rifle by an American hunter, the story went global across the world.
The debate whether the Timbavati Reserve had the right to sell a 100lbs tusk elephant bull to a hunter, raged for a good two weeks. Some regarded the elephant bull which spent the majority of his time in Kruger, as a national asset to be protected at all cost. The hunters regarded the elephant bull as fair game to be sold to the hunter who paid the most money.
The third campaign is an attempt to uncover the truth about who shot the territorial male lion Skye in the Umbabat Reserve. This debate is still raging, but I have no doubt, in time, the truth will be revealed.
To all who contributed positively to these campaigns, I say thank you. To the mud slingers who got personal and tried to deflect the argument away from the real issues, they did not succeed.
To those who got emotional and called the hunters all sorts of names, it doesn’t help the cause. Just bring facts and the evidence. Remain focused and achieve your objective.
To those who had evidence and information, but did not bring it forward, it is unacceptable. To remain silent, is apathy at its worst. (I still do not understand why the eco-lodges in the Umbabat Reserve remained silent when Skye was taken, they had the most to lose)
If anyone would like me to co-ordinate a campaign for them, I will do it gladly. Whatsapp +27 83 651 1600
At Tiger Canyons, four litter of cubs are providing us with the finest photo opportunities in our history. What is even more fascinating, is to compare the skills of the 4 different mothers, Panna, Oria, Tibo and Ussuri. Each one is a caring, intelligent mother and special in her own right!
The fact that all 12 cubs are males will pose some difficult management problems for us in the future.
However, Rodney and Kevin Drew have designed a magnificent new area of several thousand hectares into which the new cubs will disperse.
The area is beautiful, wild and rugged, but it is superb tiger habitat and will greatly enhance the wild beauty of Tiger Canyons.
The fence will be completed and the area stocked by the end of 2018.
Tread Lightly on the Earth JV firstname.lastname@example.org