Category Archives: General

Game Farms, Preserves and Challenges

February 10, 2017: I have spent much of the past week touring some of the areas many private game parks and reserves, and have spent many hours discussing poaching issues with the owners and their heads of security, including Lombardini Game Farm where three adult rhinos were poached and a youngster, the much beloved Hope (now tragically deceased), had her face hacked off. (More details of the story here)

Several common themes have emerged from conversations at game farms and preserves. First they would all like to see the South African government make anti poaching measures a top priority. Right now very few resources are devoted to it. For example there are 1,700 detectives actively working crime in the Eastern Cape and yet only 3 are assigned to wildlife crime!!

Secondly poaching is conducted by highly organized criminal syndicates who spend months beforehand checking out potential targets. They have become experts in their disgusting line of work and the only way to provide the rhinos with any real protection is to increase the number of armed guards patrolling the areas 24/7. This is something most private owners simply can’t afford to do.

Third – they all actively promote the fact they have rhinos as they are their star attractions at their facilities. They understand it’s a double edged sword but they’re willing to take the risk as they really need the income the animals generate. Some of them post regularly on Facebook and authorized me to do the same. It’s one reason why a number of them favor legalizing rhino horn sales which in their view would generate significant funding for their operations.

Just yesterday the news broke that the government is now seriously considering allowing the sale of “domestic” horns – whatever that means – but there’s a very determined and passionate number who feel such a move would be fatal. I agree with them but have to admit that the supporters of legalization offer some very compelling arguments.

I’m headed south later for my meeting with Ian Michler, the man who risked his life to produce the documentary “Blood Lions” the dramatic expose of the canned lion hunting industry that is big business here in SA.

The Quest for Hope: Tour the Assegai

Spent the last two days provisioning the camper (aka Assegai) and applying the decals created by Andrea and Clark of Wilmington’s Southern Sign Company. Very pleased with the way they look – they’re a real nice finishing touch. Many people have wondered what the inside of Assegai looks like, check out the slideshow below.

She’s a very sweet ride! Tonight I’ll spend my first night in her trying to remember the function of all the various switches…..there’s lots of them!

After enjoying a breakfast prepared by the lovely kitchen staff at African Perfection I will be cooking for myself for awhile. At African Perfection  even the place mats reflect the surfing lifestyle that dominates all of Jeffrey’s Bay. I couldn’t have picked a better spot for my first days of The Quest for Hope. 

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Wildlife Gallery

Thanks to the foresight of early conservationists and like minded African chiefdoms, large wild animal preserves exist in most of the continent’s countries. Sadly habitat degradation, poaching and uncontrolled hunting threaten the survival of wildlife in many of these reserves, but happily there are scattered success stories too. Anyone who has not experienced the joy of seeing Africa’s magnificent wildlife in the bush, animals that exist nowhere else on the planet, should add this experience to their bucket list. It can be summed up in just one word – awesome. Enjoy these images taken over the years by Al and feel free to send us your own favorites too. (To send, just CONTACT us)

The Faces of Wildlife: Curious and Playful

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Take Time to See Them

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Birds of a Feather

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We Are But Guests in Their Home

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On to Africa

ele1When I turned twenty one I was living in California thousands of miles away from my family in South Africa. For the past few years I’d been slowly working my way around the world and it was the first and only time I ever received a letter from my father. Mum was always the designated letter writer but on this auspicious occasion my father decided a letter directly from him was warranted. In it he encouraged me to put whatever God-given talents I had to good use and he ended the letter with the following quote:

“No man is born into this world whose work is not born with him. There is always work and tools to work withal for this who will, and blessed are the horny hands of toil. The busy world shoves angrily aside the man who stands with arms akimbo set and waits until occasion tells him what to do, and he who waits to have his task marked out shall die and leave his errand unfulfilled. Our time is one that calls for earnest deeds.”

This was pretty heavy stuff for me to digest especially as my primary focus at that time was getting to Hawaii to surf its legendary big waves. However over the years I have spent an inordinate amount of time reflecting on this quote and wondering what my particular task was intended to be. For as long as I can remember I have loved all forms of wildlife and throughout my professional career I’ve always endeavored to introduce it into my presentations. However until quite recently I’ve never been willing to devote all of my time and energy and resources towards its conservation. Living in Hawaii for twenty eight years it just didn’t seem like a viable option, but with the passage of time my perspective changed.

As I travelled back and forth to Africa and saw first hand how quickly things were changing and how drastically the wildlife was being impacted, I grew more and more convinced that I needed to join in the fight against the greed and corruption that was decimating this extraordinary heritage. When you reach a certain stage in life one’s strengths and talents are self evident. Mine were obvious to me. I was very passionate about wildlife and my public speaking skills were as good, if not better, than most. How to put these to work for wildlife conservation was the question I struggled with for many years.

Thanks to social media I was being inundated with reports from a host of organizations and individuals all committed to saving Africa’s wildlife. All of their time and expertise were devoted to the cause with occasional fund raising trips abroad. I had the opportunity to listen to several of them and it became increasingly obvious that in most instances public speaking was way outside of their comfort zone. It is after all an art form in itself, one that I have spent years refining and practicing. And the more I listened, the more I realized what my task would be. I would offer my time and talent and become a voice for these organizations, or at least for the ones I felt were doing the best work, making the biggest difference, and deserved the most help. To do that I would need to spend a considerable amount of time traveling through the bush, visiting as many of them as possible, seeing them in person and working with them on the front lines.

And it was out of this that The Quest For Hope was born.

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