The past year has been packed full of activities for the TGA Directors.
- At the beginning of the year the TGA was registered as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) which entitles donors to tax benefits. We are already registered as a Non-Profit Company (NPC).
- The TGA Board of Directors held its AGM at the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, on 17th April 2018.
- Early in the year the TGA received a handsome donation from a new donor, a well-known tiling company, whom the Board of Directors thanked. Another benefactor, who does not want to be identified, continues to donate monthly. Funding continues to be a major obstacle to the TGA’s performance.
- The TGA was donated (by the HUNTEX administration) a display table at the HUNTEX show at Gallagher Estates, Mid-Rand. It was manned by TGA members Ockie and Elani van Zyl between 24 – 29 of April. This gave the TGA some considerable exposure at the biggest hunting show in Africa. Thank you to TGA member, Adriaan Woudstra, for this generous donation.
- On April 2nd, en route back home to Bushman’s River Mouth from the Huntex show, Directors Elma Britz and Ron Thomson addressed a special Farmer’s Meeting at Ficksburg in the Eastern Free State – when we explained the TGA’s vision and mission.
- On the 3rd April, we visited the lion breeding farm of Mr. Andre Mentz just outside Ficksburg; where we received our initiation into the Captive Breeding of Lions Industry (CBL). This opened up a whole can-of-worms that developed into our full inspection of CBL Industry two months later.
- By special invitation, on the 26th May, 2018, Elma and I attended the AGM of the South African Taxidermy and Tanners’ Association (SATTA) at Farm Inn, Pretoria.
- At the invitation and expense of the South African Predator Association (SAPA), we began our joint inspection of the CBL Industry – starting with a tour of the Free State lion farms; then of the lion farms in the North-West Province; and finally of lion farms in the Limpopo province. The tour took place during the whole month of June, 2018, and we visited some 40 (out of c. 200) lion farms in South Africa. Although 40 farms comprise only some 20 percent of the industry, we were given the opportunity to observe every facet of the lion farming business and were satisfied that we had achieved a very good grasp of how the industry functions.
When South African hunters – and the general public – learned that we were going to carry out this inspection, we were given all kinds of unsolicited advice. Some wanted us to condemn the industry out of hand; others wanted us to condone it. But we knew so little about how the industry functioned that we decided to keep a totally open mind. At the start of our inspection, our mind-set was that we would determine our ultimate decisions only AFTER we had seen everything that we needed to see. We set out, therefore, being prepared to condemn the industry (if we believed that was necessary) or to condone it. And those were the choices that we had. In the end, we discovered many facets of the industry that we believed could and should be improved – so, everything was not 100 percent perfect – but we did not find ANYTHING that warranted us condemning the industry. So we made our recommendation that we believed government should nurture the industry (which is still in its infancy) and to guide it into maturity.
I wrote a full report on our findings during the months that immediately followed the inspection. I called the report: Searching for the Truth. It can be read on our website.
Many people – those who wanted us to condemn CBL – vilified me (personally) for not condemning CBL. But I am not going to change my mind. Elma and I set out to “find the truth” and we reported on what we found “truthfully”.
So, to those who have personal preferences in this regard – that are different to our own – I say: “One day you, too, will learn that most people respect those of us who do not hesitate to tell the truth. We do not make our decisions based on public opinion. We are not ‘dead fish’ that are pushed around in a tidal current, moving in whatever direction the drift of public opinion pushes us.”
- On 20 – 22 August, 2018, I attended the parliamentary colloquium on the CBL Industry, which was held at Parliament in Cape Town; and I was disgusted. I thought that the chairman was totally biased towards the animal rights point of view… that CBL should be outlawed. And he had allowed a mass of overseas animal rightist NGOs to attend the function. What right did he have to do that? What right have foreign NGOs got to attend a parliamentary colloquium in another country where they have no wildlife ownership responsibilities and are not accountable for the decisions that they make?
And the final report on the colloquium was almost certainly written by an animal rightist!
- In September 2018 the TGA had a board meeting in Grahamstown.
- In October 2018 Director, Elma Britz, and I attended the AGM of the Big Bore Association in Pretoria, where I delivered an address.
- During the 10 – 14 October we attended the Botswana Game Ranchers Association AGM in Gaborone; where I was the invited guest speaker. The meeting was well attended – including by H.E. the Honourable Mokgweetsi Masisi, the new President of Botswana. His Excellency, of course, is planning to reintroduce elephant hunting to Botswana; AND to start an elephant population reduction programme – to bring Botswana’s grossly excessive elephant numbers down to a level that the habitats can sustainably support. I had a long chat with him and he gratefully received two of my wildlife management books as gifts from the TGA; and a copy of my African Wildlife Initiative Programme report. The media were present in large numbers so the TGA enjoyed some good coverage on Botswana’s Television service that evening.
- On 25th October, we – together with the TGA’s President, John Rance – attended the PHASA (Eastern Cape) meeting at Bedford.
- On the 19th – 22nd of November, we attended the PHASA AGM by special invitation. It was held at Klein Kariba (Bela Bela). On the occasion of the gala dinner I was honoured by being presented with PHASA’s very special ‘Wildlife Utilisation Award’; and PHASA presented the TGA with a donation of R 20 000.
All such donations are always gratefully received. We cannot function without them.
- Throughout the year the TGA Board strove to attract ever more paid up members on every possible occasion. Besides being welcome to our ‘TGA Tribe’, their paid-up annual membership fees is the very life-blood of our organisation. We could not operate without them!