The development of an Elephant Sanctuary on Lamloch farm in Kleinmond in the Western Cape is facing a lot of resistance from the community and environmental groups.
The owner of Lamloch Craig Saunders wants to introduce Elephants and other large herbivores on the farm.
The Pro Elephant Network made up of local and international members, has however called on Cape Nature to reject the application.
In an open letter to Cape Nature, the Network highlighted the following concerns among others:
- We do not believe that the negative impact of translocating and keeping Elephants on the property with consequences which include, but which are not limited to, the impacts on vegetation and delicate ecosystem of this biosphere and the impact on the Elephants themselves have been satisfactorily assessed.
- Whilst it is our understanding that an Elephant Management Plan has been approved for the property by yourselves, presumably as part of the developer’s application for approval under the Threatened or Protected Species Regulations, 2007 and/or the Western Cape Nature Conservation Ordinance, our members at their request have not been privy to such a plan.
- The lack of transparency is in contradiction to the South African National Development Plan 2030 which emphasizes the role of transparency in creating an accountable, open, and responsive public service, including access to information and administrative justice. Transparency is an important element of public accountability. Section 32 of the Constitution enshrines the right of access to information. The Batho Pele principles state that government administration must be open and transparent.
- To state that the monitoring of the impact on the environment can be simply carried out after the introduction of the Elephants to the Lamloch Farm in Kleinmond is irresponsible. We believe, such studies must be concluded before permission is granted for the Elephants to be relocated to this area. This approach would also be contrary to the precautionary principle which is central to the environmental impact assessment process.
The elephant sanctuary has also come under investigation by Carte Blanche.
Derek Watts interviewed Saunders who has three other sanctuaries around South Africa on his latest venture in a sensitive ecosystem in the Western Cape.
Saunders said at the new sanctuary riding and petting elephants will not be allowed, however, visitors would be permitted to do game drives or game walks.
“To take two elephants, put them on a piece of land that hasn’t a tree in sight and then say I am not going to ride them, so I’m actually doing them a big favor I may be retiring them is very disingenuous,” said Michele Pickover, the director at EMS Foundation.
Tuli elephant abuse saga
In the 1990s, Saunders was implicated in the abuse of the Tuli elephants but was later acquitted.
30 elephants that had been captured at Botswana’s Tuli game reserve were taken to African Game Services in the North West province, where they were abused and exploited for profit, with some being sold for profit and exported to zoos in Germany and Switzerland.
For their roles in the abuse, Riccardo Ghiazza and Wayne Stockigt were found guilty of offenses under the Animals Protection Act in the Pretoria Regional Court in 2003.
Watch Carte Blanche interview below: