The Way Forward - Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve Menu

The Way Forward

Posted on February 3, 2009

Thank you to everyone for the postings and comments.

As I stated in the original article, I deliberated long and hard about posting this, and I still stand by my decision to do so. However I must point out here that it was my personal decision to do so and not necessarily going to be the attitude of everyone. I have taken quite a lot of criticism over the last few days for the posting and it seems that quite a few feathers have been ruffled.

There is raw sentiment at the moment, and maybe if I had followed my own advice and not acted in the “heat of the moment”, then things might have been a little different, however I doubt it.

As I have already stated, I stand by my decision in writing the article, and already things are moving forward, a serious look at the standard of the fence is being conducted and improvement/modifications are being made, this in itself has to have made it worth it, we can not afford for this to happen again. I must however point out that the fence was under severe pressure with the Sand River in flood, and I am not in a position of authority to comment if there is any fence that is capable of withstanding such punishment.

I feel however I have to re-state some of my points again to ensure everyone is clear on my feelings and stand point.

I in no way blame the Local Community for what has transpired. We strongly believe in the upliftment of the Local Community Area, and will continue in every way we can to make sure we do our part. We strongly believe in education in the local community areas, as this is going to be the future of ensuring Wildlife have these areas to roam free, therefore much of our Community Development work, other than direct job employment, is focused in and around the local schools.

The tragic events that occurred are not to be blamed on the Local Community, our relationship with them is strong, and we continue to work hand in hand with them on the road to future benefit, theirs and that of the Wildlife in the adjacent Reserve areas. In the past we have been notified of a breach in the fence, or we have notified the Local Community that a breach had occurred, and we have been given an opportunity to rectify the situation. In this instance we were not given such an opportunity and the Provincial Authority, not the Local Community, made the decision to destroy the Pride without notifying us of their intention. Therefore I appeal to everyone not to vent outrage and blame on the neighboring Community. Indeed we will fight harder in our efforts to educate and uplift these Communities.

So many of you have asked how you can help, all I can ask is that you continue, as so many of you have, to help us in our endeavors to build schools and clinics and help us with the incredibly important job at hand of educating as many people as possible of the importance of Reserve Areas such as this, and how Wildlife and people can live side by side to the mutual benefit of both.

Sadly this is not a unique situation occurring only here, it is happening across Africa and although much progress is being made, there is still a long way to go. I have always been of the opinion that; to be a Conservationist in this day and age, we need to be optimists, we have to have the “glass is half full approach”, it is a long road ahead, but one we need to travel.

I also can report as I end off here, that communication between the Authorities within the Reserve and the Local Provincial Authority outside the Reserve have been scheduled as a matter of urgency, and I hope and pray we can have a conclusion that will prevent something like this ever happening again.

15 thoughts on “The Way Forward

  1. Thank you Duncan for posting all these articles. I personally believe you have done the right thing to highlight this issue and generate debate on how to move forward. I admire your courage under what are no doubt difficult circumstances. However I see no reason why some measurements of success or failure and planned targets should not be implemented and reported on regularly. Optimism is a wonderful thing and very necessary to fight the good fight but we cannot keep our heads in the sand if the world of these animals is going backwards just because we have faith in others to do the right thing. Rsponsibility has to rest with all of us including local & provincial communities and governments. I would want everyones children and countless generations from now to have the wonderful opportunity to see these majestic animals in their unique habitat.

  2. Please send the names and the addresses of the Provincial Authority.

    If specific officers were involved please send their nems.

    We are preparing a letter to express our outrage over this matter.

    Thanks,Patricia Meadowcroft

  3. DUNCAN, NO ONE IS INSULATED FROM THE TRAGIC EVENTS THAT ARE HAPPENING ALL OVER THIS WORLD. YOU ARE DEALING WITH ANIMALS AND OTHERS ARE DEALING WITH PEOPLE…WE FELT YOUR STRONG ATTACHMENT TO THE VILLAGERS AND MUST TELL YOU THAT WE SUPPORT YOU 100% IN BRINGING THIS TRAGEDY TO OUR ATTENTION. HOPEFULLY SOME "GOOD" WILL COME OUT OF IT, AS I’M A TRUE BELIEVER IN "POETIC JUSTICE". PERHAPS THE PROVINCIAL AUTHORITY NEEDS A LITTLE WAKE UP CALL AND A REVIEW OF THE "GAME PLAN"…..LET’S ALL GO FORWARD AND WORK TOGETHER AND PUT THE BLAME BEHIND US. IT’S A NEW DAY….OUR BEST TO YOUR WONDERFUL TEAM….

  4. DUNCAN, NO ONE IS INSULATED FROM THE TRAGIC EVENTS THAT ARE HAPPENING ALL OVER THIS WORLD. YOU ARE DEALING WITH ANIMALS AND OTHERS ARE DEALING WITH PEOPLE…WE FELT YOUR STRONG ATTACHMENT TO THE VILLAGERS AND MUST TELL YOU THAT WE SUPPORT YOU 100% IN BRINGING THIS TRAGEDY TO OUR ATTENTION. HOPEFULLY SOME "GOOD" WILL COME OUT OF IT, AS I’M A TRUE BELIEVER IN "POETIC JUSTICE". PERHAPS THE PROVINCIAL AUTHORITY NEEDS A LITTLE WAKE UP CALL AND A REVIEW OF THE "GAME PLAN"…..LET’S ALL GO FORWARD AND WORK TOGETHER AND PUT THE BLAME BEHIND US. IT’S A NEW DAY….OUR BEST TO YOUR WONDERFUL TEAM….

  5. Duncan, A mass of points so in no particular order. Totally endorse your decision to tell us and ‘go public’ and understand and empathise with the rash of emotional responses that we all (me included) appear to have felt. Revenge is a dish best served cold, but one must carefully consider all the implications of one’s actions as collatoral damage could seriously backfire. Sounds like the Local Community should be applauded. As to the Provincial Authority, my control & logic seems to have deserted me. I ask whether (yet hope not) they have the Power or Authority to Issue Hunting Permits. Good Luck in your Meetings and may your Glass always be (at least) half full. Nick

  6. Duncan and Marius, It has taken me days to respond to your original tragic message! I am devastated by the camp’s losses since I was there in July 2008. No words can express the feelings of loss we all feel who read your blog.
    Duncan,Please know that you did the right thing by letting us know of these events.
    The pride, as well as Makuela’s cubs, are forever etched in my memory with pure love and appreciation. Keep up the
    the continuing effort to educate all of us. Hope to see you next year. Until then….keep your glass "HALF FULL"!
    Chris from California

  7. Duncan, thank you for your posting. It sheds a clear and balanced perspective on a very contentious and emotional issue for everyone who was blessed to have known the Sand River Pride.

    The commitment and dedication of the Leopard Hills Team towards the communities on the perimeter of the park has been a source of inspiration for all of us who work with these communities, although it might be in a different capacity. Your efforts have a tangible and visible effect on the daily lives of the people in these communities. Your posting will ensure that this relationship will continue to be strengthened despite this tragic event.

    I do however feel that the provincial government should explain their actions on a public forum, and their conduct should be investigated. They should be held accountable for any breach of protocol which might have lead to this catastrophe. Although it might not reverse the consequences of their behavior, it certainly might help to prevent a similar tragedy from reoccurring in future. Be assured of our full support in pursuing the matter.

    It is regrettable that the department spends millions of rands of tax payers? money on advertising campaigns to market the province and its abundant wildlife; while on the other hand, is seems that their thoughtless actions are directly responsible for the destruction thereof.

    Thank you once again for the way you have managed this very emotional situation by keeping us informed in an objective manner. Keep up the good work

  8. Very well said, Duncan! You did the right thing! All the previous comments are insightful and, hopefully, some good will come out of this tragic event.
    Joy K.

  9. From reading your note and all the comments, I agree with what you are doing. You summed it up in one word. EDUATION.

  10. Hi Duncan, thank you for this informations about your private game reserve and the communitiey around.I never get to know the sand river pride but I do love this majestic animals and it is very, very sad to hear about the killing of this beautiful animals.
    On the other hand I do understand what happened on the other site of the fence when 7 lions attacked domestic cattle.
    I live in Germany and the same would had happened to a predator in my country and in most other european countries, we don`t even have such a beautiful wildlife. I don`t want to excuse what has happened in the past, but I would like to encourage everyone who loves animals everywhere in the world to do his/her share in his own country rather than to condemn what the community in your neighbourhood did.
    I realy do admire what you are doing for the african wildlife and your optimism to fight for your ideals.

  11. DEAR DUNCAN,
    thank you for sharing with us the terrible news. You were quite right to tell the world what had happened. Lets hope it will not happen ever again.
    With great sadness,
    Liz and Ian van Zyl.

  12. I also appreciate Duncan’s decision to share this news with us, no matter how heartbreaking it may be. It’s depressing to read about such a blatant lack of respect for nature from these individuals resulting in what I consider to be outrageous conduct, from the news article it appears that the Tourism and Parks agency believe that lions are bloodthirsty killers who will immediately hunt and prey upon humans if given the chance. That’s the sort of attitude that one might expect from the ignorant, but not from a parks official.

    Of course the killing of cows is problematic for the villagers and they deserve to be compensated for that. But as Duncan has mentioned, the reserves are more than willing to provide such compensation.

    Perhaps the most depressing aspect of this is that it has happened before on multiple occasions (once even with the Sand River Pride, as well as at least three separate incidents that I know of involving Sabi Sands leopards). I have to say that I am pessimistic about the Parks and Tourism Agency finally seeing the error of their ways if they hadn’t seen it already with some of their senseless slaughters of the past. Still, even with the past record of the Mpumalanga PTA, I do hope that this incident is the catalyst for change in the way such situations are handled, if so the Sand River Pride may not have been killed in vain.

  13. Thanks Duncan for speaking so passionatly about this topic! I think its really important for us to know exactly whats happening at the lodge!
    That’s why we have this weblog!
    Keep it up!

  14. After reading What happened..
    @africam.com

    I cant believe it….
    The Sand River Pride has gone DOWN.

    Currently i am focussed at the Windmill Pride.

    And the 2 mayeleti brothers!

    I do wish that the remaining Cub that survived the shooting can be adopted.

    Even if he was a Mapogo

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