MEDIA RELEASE BY WILDLIFE RANCHING SOUTH AFRICA
DATE: 9 APRIL 2019 Game farmers need to adapt to meet political and economic changes in South Africa
Pretoria – Almost 300 wildlife ranchers gathered at the annual conference of Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) in Pretoria in Saturday, 6 April, to listen to the advice from prominent business and political leaders as well as scientists on current developments that have an impact on the wildlife sector.
WRSA President, Tebogo Mogashoa, said this year’s conference attracted many new faces which indicated a growing interest in the wildlife industry. “The conference programme with its selection of high profile speakers addressed important current affairs that provided essential insight and a fresh perspective into the impact that national and global economic trends have on the South African wildlife sector. It was most encouraging to engage with so many delegates, some of whom are established wildlife ranchers whilst others attended the WRSA conference for the first time,” he said.
In a message from the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Nomvula Mkonoyane, presented by her Chief Advisor Dr T Moema, she emphasized that the wildlife sector is crucial in ensuring sustainable development for the future of our nation. In the keynote address, Dr Mathews Phosa, paid tribute to the private wildlife sector’s collaboration with rural communities towards leaving a lasting wildlife legacy for the future.
Theo Vorster, well-known financial advisor and analyst pointed out that South Africa could not keep up with global economic growth. For the country to improve on its position, it needs to move away from a captured state to a constitutional democracy where many of our social ills will disappear. Vorster cautioned game ranchers against taking risks in the current volatile environment.
Johan Rabie, an established game farmer, shared statistics about foreign hunters that indicate South Africa as their preferred hunting destination; mainly because of the variety of high-quality game that the country offers. He advised game farmers to benchmark their activities carefully against current demands and trends to remain profitable.
Disease prevention and control among wildlife remain a crucial game management priority for ranchers. Dr Johan Steyl, a veterinary pathologist from the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Onderstepoort, explained the importance of biosecurity measures on game farms.
Effect of climate change on wildlife sector
Prof. Hannes Rautenbach, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Akademia, addressed the effect of global warming on wildlife ranching which he said might be more resistant to climate change. He reiterated that much more research was essential to identify vulnerability to climate change and stressed the importance of historical data. Rautenbach advised game ranchers to erect weather stations for collecting and measuring weather data that can provide valuable information in our response to climate change.
Prof. Peet van der Merwe of North West Univeristy reported on research undertaken in collaboration with WRSA into land-use options. The results showed that game breeding and hunting were the most popular and viable land-use options, followed by mixed farming, eco-tourism and meat production.
Transformation and land expropriation
Christo van der Rheede, deputy executive officer of AgriSA, and Dan Kriek, president of AgriSA, provided insight into transformation and land expropriation respectively. Van der Rheede urged game farmers to work with the agricultural sector towards achieving transformation. It is estimated that the world population will reach 9 billion people by 2050 and it will be farmers that would be expected to provide food for everyone. Kriek encouraged the wildlife industry to demonstrate the value that they are adding to the economy, employment opportunities, and promoting the country as a tourism destination.
Marketing SA as preferred hunting destination
Norman Adami, successful wildlife rancher, and Wiaan van der Linde, wildlife rancher and hunting outfitter, gave their perspectives on promoting SA as a preferred destination against the odds of international social stigma and ignorance towards hunting. The sector needs the SA government’s involvement to market the country as a preferred hunting destination.
See attached additional information about the WRSA2019 Game Rancher of the Year Awards
WRSA is acknowledged by Government and stakeholders as an organisation representing the national and international interests of the wildlife ranching industry. This relates to the sustainable breeding, conservation, production and marketing of wildlife in South Africa. WRSA constitutes the largest collective of more than 2,000 commercial wildlife ranchers (land owners), businesses and individuals with an interest in commercial wildlife ranching.
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