WRSA President Wiaan van der Linde’s personal message “I have a dream…….
At the time of writing this, three days after a very successful WRSA Conference and being elected as the WRSA President, I am still humbled by the confidence of my peers for electing me to lead this dynamic association for the next two years. When sharing my view with delegates of WRSA’s strategy, I shared with them my dream to not only re-establish South Africa as hunting and wildlife tourism destination of choice, but to reposition the romantic nature of our soulful and beautiful country.
I realise the responsibility that comes with me taking up the position as president and I acknowledge the fact that it is not a road that I can walk alone. With all the challenges and opportunities awaiting us, we have a busy and sometimes difficult task ahead of us and I look forward to working with my fellow Board members, Presidents Council, CEO and administrative staff and all stakeholders and interested parties in our industry to truly construct an entity that can contribute not only to the South African economy and thriving wildlife, but which will fill a undeniable role in the future of our country.
The South African wildlife ranching industry is at a critical junction where our socially acceptable and responsible actions will determine the successful future of not only our businesses as wildlife ranchers, but probably more importantly our wildlife for generations to come. It is now the time to challenge ourselves to envision the remarkable potential of wildlife ranching whilst not turning a blind eye to the issues standing in our way of reaching that potential.
Can we afford to simply continue along the same path as we have done up to now? I don’t think so. Now, more than ever before, is the time to act boldly and socially responsible to make our industry “work” for the good of South Africa and all South Africans. I am confident that WRSA has a stronghold of leadership and ambition amongst our members who can genuinely advocate and promote the good of our industry whilst embracing and understanding our social responsibility as wildlife ranchers.
Getting back to the critical junction I referred to earlier, it is important for us as wildlife industry, to be honest to ourselves and the world out there by clearly differentiating between commercial wildlife and bio-diversity conservation, identifying our respective roles in either conservation or commercial activities. We need to establish and emphasize the full wildlife ranching value chain in such a way that employment benefits, tourism advantages, contribution to social investment and commitment towards transformation become undeniable. We cannot afford to disregard the diversity amongst our membership and must enhance the benefits to all.
Having said all this, how can we fulfil my dream to re-establish South Africa as the hunting and wildlife tourism destination of choice and to reposition the romantic nature of our soulful country? During my presentation of the WRSA strategy to delegates at the WRSA convention, I summarized my 2026 strategic aspirations as follows:
To be in the top three agricultural industries in South Africa;
To reach 30 million hectares with 30 million game under game ranching (30% of SA Agricultural land);
To make a contribution of R75b – R100b to our country’s annual GDP;
To be the agricultural industry of choice in South Africa;
To provide 350 000 jobs;
To create sustainability in diversified markets;
To be reliable protein suppliers in South Africa (food security)by producing and processing at least 250,000 tons of game meat for consumption; and
To be representative of our nation
We will only be able to achieve this if we have the necessary values in place, which would include integrity, trustworthiness, a clear identity and authentication thereto, to “walk the talk”, transparency and commitment to transformation.
We will not achieve this if we are perceived to be a non-trustworthy, exclusive industry engaged in “frowned-upon” practices and ignoring public opinion.
In my opinion, TRUST should be the FOUNDATION for our four strategic pillars in an effort to re-affirm South Africa’s position as Destination of Choice, as illustrated below. I want to invite all wildlife ranchers in South Africa to take hands and help us cementing our industry as a socially responsible business sector in South Africa.