With a 46% unemployment rate using the expanded definition (available to work but are discouraged or not looking), or 33.3% ordinary, the donation of valuable game animals to emerging game farmers is a long-term investment which will pay off in years to come.

However, when it didn’t happen because of a worldwide pandemic which saw resources diverted to the national health department – not to mention government’s insistence on throwing billions of rands at South African Airways – underlying tensions were bound to surface on Saturday during a game release event in the Groot Marico district of North West.

Kgosi Moefie Mabelane of the Baphiring Traditional Authority and Kgosi Godfrey Gasebone of the Bakoena ba Morare Traditional Authority both pleaded with Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s (DFFE) minister Barbara Creecy to speed up local infrastructure development, citing the rampant unemployment in the area.

ALSO READ: Third wave threatens to push game farmers over the edge

Creecy had little to offer in defence other than the diversion of funds from most government departments to deal with the Sars-Cov-2 virus, now gathering a full head of steam for a third wave, with 4,236 new cases recorded by Saturday evening.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases has also “noted an upsurge in cases in the Northern Cape, North West and Free State Provinces”.

Dedicating a life to game

With a double whammy of Covid-19 and rising unemployment aside, Andrew Aphamo was happy to have passed the DFFE’s strict criteria to enter the wildlife economy and biodiversity programme.

Juvenile zebras

Juvenile zebra mill about waiting for the temporary boma to open after being let out of their truck at the Aphamo Boerdery in the Groot Marico district of North West Province. Photo: Twitter/@environmentza

“I grew up in a village called Rooivaal (Dinaletsana) near Brits which is a farming area,” Aphamo said.

He started farming with his father’s cattle after he died.

“The love of livestock and game started from there,” said Aphamo. 

“The other thing when you grow up in a rural area, we don’t understand the value of wildlife, you see people hunting game with dogs.”

It was when he joined Lemao Conservation Club he began to realise the worth of game.

“It is the pride of our country, we need to make sure we take this very seriously and turn it in something with economic value,” Aphamo said.

“I’ve been farming for more than 30 years, it’s a lifetime but farming with game is a new thing and I love it.”

ALSO READ: SA not in Covid-19 third wave yet as vaccine roll-out gets underway

Even his wife and children loved farming with game over livestock, Aphamo said with a laugh.

Game donations a win-win

As an immediate albeit long-term example, Aphamo will receive a total of 169 animals from South African National Parks (SANParks) over the next three years.

He must then use this donation as breeding stock and duplicate the donation, which he must then pass on to a person or neighbour who qualifies to be in the programme.

Game release on Koedoeberg Farm

The smooth release of 14 zebra and five eland on Saturday, 22 May 2021, on Koedoeberg Farm of Aphamo Boerdery followed a previous release of 12 red hartebeest, 10 gemsbok and four giraffe. Photo: Amanda Watson

As noted by Creecy, donating animals which exceed the carrying capacity of national parks instead of culling them made for a win-win situation.

Nor are the animals simply dumped and left to their own devices, with SANParks monitoring animal welfare and the game farmers having access to its expertise.

ALSO READ: Plans to cull thousands of animals in SA’s National Parks

And as Koedoeberg Farm has a hunting concession, although not referencing this, Creecy said as a “demanding friend”, she would be keeping a close eye on the project which with Saturday’s donation, was now entering phase two.

Hundreds of animals have already been donated in phase one to emerging game farmers in the North West, Northern Cape, Free State, Limpopo and Eastern Cape.

High value animals such as eight black and 10 white rhino were sent to the Northern and Eastern Cape, as well as 15 Tsessebe each to the Free State and an undisclosed province.

“There are a number of aspirant game farmers who intend to participate in this industry and that is why interventions such this one become very critical in bridging the historic gaps of “haves” and “have nots”,” Creecy noted. 

“For a successful programme, transformation would require participation by the private sector and communities in ensuring access to land, capital and tools of trade for aspirant game farmers.” 

– amandaw@citizen.co.za





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