Animals escape massive culling in Plettenberg Bay and find new home
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Cape Town – Animals at the Giraffe View Safari Camp in Plettenberg Bay escaped a massive culling last month after residents and long-term tenant and custodian of the wildlife, Vicki Reid, raised the alarm, blocking the gate to prevent the culling team that was en route to the camp on Sunday, October 17.
Thanks to the quick intervention of the Karoo Donkey Sanctuary and public pressure, more than 60 animals (four giraffe, 50 blue wildebeest and four plains zebras) were relocated to Gondwana Game Reserve in Herbertsdale on the Garden Route.
The animals were to be culled last month, which Camp owner Leon de Kock said was due to overpopulation, but Reid put out a plea on Facebook to raise awareness of the situation after hearing that a team of 15 professional hunters was to cull the animals over seven days.
The Karoo Donkey Sanctuary stepped in and negotiated a seven-day reprieve with the owner of the property, allowing time to find an alternative solution that would spare the animals.
Reid said: “I received confirmation just before 10am that Sunday morning that the owner had turned the hunters around when they were already on the road. We were delighted.”
Founder Jonno Sherwin said the sanctuary had acquired six southern giraffes, 50 blue wildebeest, and six plains zebras in a rescue and relocation mission termed “Operation Noah”.
He said the relocation was a monumental team effort with help from the sanctuary’s global partners, Animal Survival International, the Plettenberg Bay Community Environmental Forum, Cape Nature, “and the amazing conservation team at Gondwana, as well as a very special donor”.
Gondwana bought the wildebeests and were gifted the giraffes and zebras by the Karoo Donkey Sanctuary and its strategic alliances.
De Kock said game management was important and that they had begun making plans to cull the older animals because the property was overpopulated.
Reid said she respected the need for game reserve management, “but this was a massacre, a wholesale shameful shoot-out”.
When asked what would happen to the remaining animals, De Kock said many of them had been relocated but there were still a few old animals left.
He said the property had been on the market for R20 million for the past six years, but was now off the market and the reserve was at its animal capacity.
It is suspected the owners of the property intended to replace the indigenous vegetation and remove the giraffes and other wildlife to introduce a macadamia plantation, but De Kock was adamant he would not be pursuing this.
Now, with a vision to purchase the camp and establish the Giraffe Rescue and Research Centre, a trust and non-governmental organisation, Reid is appealing to the world's giraffe and nature lovers for help to save the remaining wildlife and the 300 hectare nature reserve that includes five giraffe (the dominant bull being Masai, the matriarchal female being southern and the others cross-breeds of the two), 14 plains zebras, 70 impala, 12 waterbuck, 20 blue wildebeest, 2 bontebok, 2 springbok and naturally occurring bushbuck.
Reid said relocation season was over with babies of the animals due in a few weeks, and the remaining giraffes were unfortunately too tall to be relocated and thus needed their home to be a safe place.
If achieved, Reid said the centre would ultimately lobby for legislative change focused on the plight of animals and their preservation, which fell in line with eco-tourism and the legacy of every South African.
To donate towards the centre, visit https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/vicki-reid