Sometimes, taboos must be broken.  No guesthouse owner ever wants to bring out his worries, shortcomings, or poaching issues out in the open.  In South Africa especially, discussing them is a no-go zone.

As Africans, we have a flair for resilience, we brush off economic downturns, poverty, crime, unemployment in general with a wave and a nod, and we truck on to see the next sunrise with an acceptable cup of bad coffee, or drown it all in a bit of red wine J

By doing so, we tend to try forgetting them and just “carry on”.  It’s a survival tool that we often use and abuse.  On Instagram and Facebook, we rave about the fluffy stuff, and we aim to write and post about how wonderful the world is, displaying stunning pictures, shoving under the carpet our worries of the day.

At the risk of rocking the boat in the lodging industry, I have decided to discuss some of the more real threats that game farms, and animals, in particular, face every day.

Our guesthouse and small holding has so far been a safe haven for us all, and we’ve maintained it by being diligent in our security measures, communications, and staff.  Frankly, Swellendam has enjoyed a period of prosperity and calm that is truly golden, benefitting all of us.  We love it here.

However, 4 days ago, our tranquil little haven was shaken by the sudden apparition of snares on the property.

Silent killers, pervasive, and indiscriminate of wildlife, (they) have been a plague in the conservation industry for centuries, and this was brought home to us this week.

Thankfully, Jonathan, our Nature field guide, discovered and dismantled all of them on our South Fence.  Our reserve is small, and the odds of our game stepping into a trap are significantly higher than on larger holdings.

The problem has a significant shade of grey.  There are no “good” and “bad” guys.

There is greed, unemployment, poverty, crime, all afflicting our communities throughout the country.  Frustration is widespread, and those issues too, need to be addressed to tackle the root source of this destructive habit of poaching.

We recognize the urgency to involve the kids in the local communities, the elders, parents, and educate them in the long-term benefits of conservation, to share with them the miracles of Kwetu Guest Farm, the Giraffes, the young Sables, and the tiny miracles of life happening on the farm every day.

Our duty to be inclusive, which translates into protecting the 11 employees on the farm and protecting the wildlife on our farm.

They too have families, children, thus mouths to feed. If our conservation project were to collapse, so would the guesthouse, their livelihood, and ultimately, our little paradise.

Our duty, together, is to protect our project, for the greater good.  We will not stand idle, we’ve stepped up foot patrol, security coordination, and Jonathan has opened up a dialog locally to see how and what can we do to assist, and where needed, prevent further incidents.  Thankfully, we have not lost any animals yet, and nor do we plan on losing any either.  We’ve got a wonderful team at Kwetu, committed, who believe in our guest farm, and I could not have asked for better people to work alongside us towards our little paradise.

We all love this farm, and I sincerely know that most guests want to know the inner workings of our project.  I am confident we’re on the right track.  The fright we got this week with the snares will allow us to move forward and make Kwetu a much safer game farm tomorrow for all the animals that roam it.  Help us support it, and come and enjoy it with us.

Michel.

Kwetu Game Farm

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