South Africa

Letter to Editor

Kruger Park Lion Debate: Animal rights activists are just plain wrong

A black-maned lion leads his pride over a hill in the Kromdraai Conservancy in South Africa in this undated file photo. EPA PHOTO/EPA/JON HRUSA//

At the risk of sounding as if I want to have the last word, let me make a few brief points.

  • Beginning at the end of the article by Ms Louw and Ms Pickover (the two representative of the minuscule animal rights bodies I referred to in my article), “Kruger Lions: Who really Cares About Conservation”, and the four questions they asked of me, let me reply as follows:

In my youth I culled game for farmers and game ranchers in the Lowveld and Karoo and later on my own game ranch, Bankfontein, and shot hundreds of wild animals who, in all likelihood, would otherwise have ultimately died of starvation or drought as their numbers had grown beyond what the finite land could sustain.

This contributed to conservation by allowing the remaining animals to survive and, subsequently, propagate and increase in number as opposed to all ultimately dying from lack of food and/or water.

The reasons I stopped hunting in my 70th year and my expulsion by WWF-Southern Africa have been traversed at some length and can be read on my website – – where they have been for all to see for some months.

  • While I will not show point by point why the article by the two women is disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst – because it is merely more of the usual emotional animal rightist propaganda rant, which has little or nothing to do with the facts but is designed to stir outrage and emotion – my failure to do so should not be construed as agreeing with anything they have written.
  • I would like to return to one point, however, as someone who is passionate about wildlife habitat and wildlife. I have seen over the last 50 years or so how literally thousands of people have bought or converted previously eroded and badly maintained domestic livestock and/or crop farms and, with much time, effort and money, turned them into model extensive commercial and life style game ranches, which are home to a variety of game and wildlife such as birds, insects, reptiles and small predators, which are never hunted, at no cost to the government.
  • These ranches cover some 21 million hectares today, which is almost three times the land covered by all national parks and provincial reserves in the country.
  • Without the revenue generated by hunting, culling and game capture these properties would not be financially viable and would revert to domestic livestock and/or crops. How do I know? Because I was a game rancher for 20 years.
  • Lastly, I have a question for the animal rightists. Why, given the huge amounts of money raised by them each year – a recent US report stated $605-million (over R8-billion) was raised by them in 2017 – have they not bought one hectare of wildlife habitat or one wild animal in this country on which to practise their preservationist policies to demonstrate to the world that it is a viable alternative to the current hugely successful, hunter-based South African and Namibian conservation models? DM