November, 2016

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Wild Hearts Rehab Centre

Based on an interview with Ansabet Snyman – manager of Wild Heart Rehab Centre

What is Wild Hearts Rehab Centre?

The Wild Hearts Rehab Centre focusses on the rehabilitation and re-introduction of the various game back into their natural habitat. It is managed by Ansabet Snyman who has been the manager since the centre officially opened its doors in 2012. Ansabet has a history of looking after the ill and injured animals on the farm and got her first orphaned monkey in 2006. Since then, her love for animals grew until she, together with the owner of the centre, Wiaan van der Linde, decided to open the Wild Hearts Rehab Centre.

What kind of animals does the Wild Hearts Rehab Centre have?

The Wild Hearts Rehab Centre is home to a variety of game, from lions, a brown hyena, genet, caracal, serval, monkeys and baboons, buffalo, roan, sable and of course, rhinos. Most of the animals will be set free when they are ready to do so. There are however a few animals that, because of their history, will be looked after at the Wild Hearts premises for life.

Does the Wild Hearts Rehab Centre have any specific focus?

The centre has a special heart and focus when it comes to the rehabilitation of orphaned rhinos. Most of the baby rhino’s mothers have been poached or died due to natural causes. The centre’s first orphaned rhino arrived in 2011 and since then, the centre has never had a day without a baby rhino under its care. Up to date, Ansabet and her team have nurtured and rehabilitated 22 rhinos.

What does it take to rehabilitate a baby rhino?

Quite extensive resources have to be implemented in order to rehabilitate a baby rhino. A day old rhino, for instance, must be looked after day and night, preferably by the same person and will drink milk every two hours. A baby rhino is looked after until it is 18 months old and may drink 30-liters of milk a day (depending on the individual rhino). After it is weaned, it will first be transferred to a bigger camp, before it is introduced to the wild again. A rhino of between 12 and 24 months may be specifically susceptible to stomach ulcers due to the stress of weaning. Wild Hearts are fortunate to have a veterinary on the farm, who is able to provide a professional service if needed. The rhinos are continually monitored and weighed to ensure good health. In short, the rehabilitation of a rhino takes considerable financial resources, team effort, time, energy and lots of attention.

What does the rehabilitation of rhinos mean to you on a personal level?

There is a lot of rewards when its comes to working with baby rhinos. Each rhino has a different personality, likes and dislikes – and that is what makes it special. To come to understand each rhino on its own personal level and to fulfill its needs as such. It makes the day that they are released into the wild bittersweet. One is glad that they are strong enough to be able to survive on its own but also sad, as you lose a baby that you’ve nurtured for 18 months.

Is the Wild Hearts Rehab Centre open for the public?

Wild Hearts is open to the public as they believe that education is an integral part of the anti-poaching effort. The general public and local schools are welcome to visit the Wild Hearts educational facility in order to learn and see more about nature conservation.

Wild Hearts is situated near Kimberley in the Northern Cape. For more information please visit

How Trophy Hunting helps Conservation

In the eyes of millions trophy hunting is a disgrace! Surely trophy hunters are murderers, animal slaughters? We can’t really blame these people for thinking this way. They sit in an apartment somewhere in a huge city in the States for example. They have no clue what actually is happening in Africa. They have never set foot on African soil, and probably never will. Here is what you need to know before ever judging a trophy hunter again.

Animals that were on the brink of extinction.

Truth is, without trophy hunting, several of South Africa’s species would already be extinct. If there was no Trophy Hunting, there would be no incentive to invest in game. The Rhino would already be extinct. But because there is such a huge incentive on a Rhino trophy, private reserve owners protects them at all cost, to ensure that the specie does not go extinct. It literally costs millions of Rand to protect Rhino, because of poaching treats. By hunting one brings in enough money to successfully protect 3 others! If private land owners do not get that money from trophy hunting, there simply would not be money to protect them, and their survival would be left in the hands of poachers.

Thanks to hunting, our sable, bontebok, wild ostrich, Cape mountain zebra, black wildebeest and many other species have been brought back from the brink of extinction and have successfully been reintroduced into areas where they had become locally extinct. But how does hunting contribute to this you ask??

It is actually very simple. Say for example you have three Springbuck – one female, an old ram and a younger ram. The old bull cannot procreate anymore, but he is aggressive towards the younger ram and stops it from breeding with the female. So what will happen? All three will eventually die and you will have no Springbuck. But before this happens you get a hunter that shoots the old Springbuck and pays a trophy fee to do so. Now the other two can breed, and all of a sudden you have 3 again! But wait; there is still the money you got from trophy fees, enough to buy 2 more. Now you have 5 Springbuck. And this process just repeats is self over and over! And that is how you save species by means of trophy hunting!

Of course there are a lot of other factors, but this is the easiest way to explain it. And the entire animal gets used after it has been hunted. The meat is used to feed communities or is sold for further profit. Most outfitters regularly take meat into poor communities where they cannot afford such “luxuries”. And the skin is used to make furniture. It is all about ethical and responsible hunting.

Take Kenya for example. They banned all forms of hunting in the 70’s, and since then lost 85% of their wildlife! Kenya is showing us what happens when there is no incentive to invest in game.

In the next article we will discuss what Trophy hunting actually means to the South African Economy. And yes there are Outfitters and people out there that do not follow the rules. It is those people who give hunting a bad name. But the majorities are all about saving and protecting the rich diversity of species that South Africa has.

Professional Hunters Association of South Africa Convention and Annual General Meeting 2016

The 39th PHASA (Professional Hunters Association of South Africa) Convention and Annual General Meeting was held this week (21-23 November 2016) at the stunning Champagne Sports Resort in the central Drakensberg region.

PHASA supports the conservation and ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources, for the benefit of current and future generations, through the promotion of ethical hunting (to ensure environmental protection for current and future generations in accordance with Section 24 of the Bill of Rights of the South African Constitution). PHASA is the official mouthpiece of all Professional Hunters in South Africa and they do tremendous work for the industry.

It was once again a huge honour for the Wintershoek Safaris team to be present at this grand occasion. We believe that a lot of progress was made and that PHASA is going from strength to strength. We would also like to congratulate Strauss Jordaan from Wintershoek Safaris who has been elected onto the Executive of PHASA for a second term.

What trophy hunting means for the South African Economy

As discussed in the previous article, trophy hunting does not only help in conservation of our wildlife, but is also plays a huge role in the South African economy. Here is how:

The Basics

There are a lot of registered Hunting outfitters in South Africa. Each outfitter needs to employ staff to make his/her business work. Staff includes Professional hunters, Trackers, Drivers, Skinners, Lodge personnel (Cook, Cleaners, and Lodge Manager), office personnel (Admin Clerks, Operations Manager, Accountants) and Rangers, just to name a few. If each Outfitter only employs 10 people (which is not nearly the amount which are actually employed) already thousands of jobs are created. The Safari business gives jobs to thousands of people and feeds even more mouths!

Professor Melville Saayman from the North West University’s Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society (TREES) and two co-authors investigated the economic impact of hunting in South Africa’s Limpopo, Northern Cape and Free State provinces. The research found 17,806 (Limpopo), 9,072 (Northern Cape) and 4,558 (Free State) jobs may depend on hunting, in addition to those of people permanently employed on game farms. This is a total of 31 436 jobs in only three of South Africa’s provinces (There are 9).

Some Numbers

Hunting tourists spent a conservatively estimated R1.072 billion in South Africa in 2013, in 2012 it was R811 million, this is an increase of 32%, according to the latest statistics from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

The DEA statistics show that 7 638 hunts by overseas hunters took place in 2013 (2012: 8 387), during which 44 028 trophies (2012: 40 866) were taken. Income from trophy fees (the fee a hunter pays a landowner to harvest an animal) amounted to R757.6 million (2012: R574.0 million) and income from daily rates (the fee a client pays a hunting outfitter to stay) came to R314.4 million (2012: R237.0 million) for a total of R1.072 billion.

These numbers do not include what hunters spend for alternative accommodation before and after the hunt, dining, transport, shopping, and additional sight-seeing activities. Research conducted by the North West University on the 2012 hunting season revealed that, when these additional expenses are factored in, the economic value of South Africa’s trophy hunting industry increased by more than 50% (from R811 million to R1.24 billion in that year).

According to the latest statistics provided by PHASA, South Africa currently has an estimated 20.5 million head of game (approximately 16 million on private land and the rest on state parks). Fifty years ago, a headcount of all the game in the country would have numbered around 500 000.

As you can see South Africa and its wildlife depends a lot on Trophy Hunting. Banning trophy hunting will not only mean job losses for thousands of people, but will also mean certain doom for all species in South Africa. We need to focus our time and energy on things like Rhino poaching, canned lion hunting, Lion Poaching, the Denmark Dolphin Slaughter and the dog festival in China just to name a few. We need to fight against things like that, and not trophy hunting! You might think people in Africa do not know what we are doing, but I can assure you that they have got everything under control. And this statement is backed up by statistics and hard evidence. Do not ever stop fighting for animal rights, because we need to stand up against the wrongdoers! Before judging a trophy hunter ever again, just remember it is them who contribute the biggest to South Africa’s conservation success story.