"Serengeti of the South” - An Open Letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa


The Honourable President of South Africa Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa 

Dear Sir 


It is with a deep concern that I note the appointment of The Honourable Nomvula Mokonyana as the new Minister of Environment. This is the Honourable Mokonyane’s third cabinet post this year and she has a long list of failures. 


Honourable President, during Honourable Derek Hanekom’s brief watch as care taker of the Environment portfolio, he set up a parliamentary committee to investigate the canned lion industry. This committee has found the canned lion industry to be cruel, unethical and adds no value to the conservation of lions in South Africa. It also gives us a bad name internationally. 


A conservative estimate is that there are between 7,000 and 8,000 captive lions in South Africa. The lion breeders are beginning to kill these captive lions and under the Late Edna Molewa, a permit to kill 1500 lions was issued. 


Mr President you presently have large pieces of land which has collapsed under the present land use system. Virtually from Cape Town to Beauford West is land which once supported tens of millions of wild animals. Today it lies bankrupt. 


Mr President you have an opportunity to take the captive lions which are facing certain death and turn them into tourist attractions on the bankrupt landscape. It will take several billion rands to complete and the process must be guided by brainpower which sits in the private enterprise. 


South Africa has some very fine ecologists and biologists who could achieve this for you. However it will require dynamic leadership and I respectively suggest that Nomvula Mokonyane had neither the knowledge nor experience to achieve this. 


Should you achieve this undertaking Mr President, it would be a landmark moment in the conservation of lions on the African continent. It would move South Africa closer to becoming one of the greatest tourist destinations on planet earth. You could in short replica the great Serengeti in Tanzania. 


It would send a message that South Africa is a cruelty free country.  Most importantly it will create you millions and millions of jobs. 


Finally, if structured correctly, it could benefit rural committees who could own the tourist schemes which would be run by specialist eco tourist companies. 


I urge you Mr President to appoint a commission of enquiry into the feasibility of this scheme and draw on the incredible brain power you have at your disposal. 


If your decision is delayed, then 8,000 lions will simply end up as body parts in China. 


On another issue Mr President, you are facing a major elephant crisis in the next 12 years as your elephant population balloons to 40,000 or more elephants. 


Once again, to manage this situation, you need clear thinking, knowledgeable leadership. 


I implore you to act decisively. 


Tread Lightly on the Earth John Varty www.johnvarty.com Email: jv@jvbigcats.co.za Whatsapp: 083 6511 600 Environmental activist

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