Pillage of the Lower Mpushini (MPELA) protected area part 2

The crisis has now been resolved. Through negotiations between Mike Jewitt, of the PMMB Trust, and the landowner, the game capture has been stopped. Below is a further mail from Nick May which explains the situation.

Hi Everybody
Regarding the e-mail and sms details sent out late last night;
Firstly, on behalf of MPELA the LMVC and all of the neighbours in our beautiful Valley  thank you to all the people that turned up in response to our calling for support to prevent the capture of the wildlife from The Lower Mpushini Conservancy Area. A large group of people turned up on Starlight Farm in the early hours of the morning today. It was nice to see good neighbours, farmers, concerned members of community, several Conservation groups, Press and community forum members join up for an ethical cause that needed resolving.
WE MANAGED TO PREVENT THE REMOVAL OF THE GAME FROM THE VALLEY.
Well done to everybody for physical presence and for moral support. This is very much appreciated by everybody concerned.
As mentioned, Ezemvelo is in partnership with the MPELA Protected Environment and preservation of a very important Conservation area (and one of the very few large pristine areas left in the Durban-KZN Midlands Corridor). The farm mentioned above has no fence-line and is on the periphery of the Protected Area…ie; the animals on this farm are the same animals that roam free throughout the whole region. If the farms of the Protected environment did not protect the game, there would be very little game to capture in this area, just like most other areas.
The farmer in question says that the animals destroy crops and he cannot grow anything without it being destroyed by wild animals. We understand. He also says he cannot afford to fence the 200 odd Ha farm in. This means that his cattle can just as easily roam onto our properties, but I am sure that it wouldn’t go down too well if we captured them and sold them off for the cost of habitat ruined. This is an issue of course, and we empathise, but you wouldn’t open an open air wax factory in the Karoo, so if you know you have wild animals grazing on your farm and that thorn trees grow rapidly back to assume their natural course of growth, then it would be of huge financial benefit to plan their business modus operandi accordingly.  There are plenty of very successful models to follow in this regard, as everybody knows, farming is a tough business and you need to think smart and work with your weather patterns, soil types and natural surrounding environment in order to get the best long term financial results. The farmers next door, who farm cattle were one of the first to join us in the objection to the game capture, so we don’t accept this as a solution.
99.999% of people don’t have wild Zebra, rare Nyala and free ranging game roaming their properties and would give their hind teeth to have this luxury. Just by thinking logically, there would be a much better option for land like this for Game Farming/ Nature Tourism/game drives etc…these would be much more suited to this region and stand a much higher percent chance of succeeding financially. We are obviously sympathetic to farming and agriculture, but not at the expense of one of our increasingly rare natural habitats. If we do not preserve the habitat, how will ever be able to save the species that live on it?  THE MPUSHINI PROTECTED AREA IS ONE OF  ONLY TWO JOINT PROTECTED AREAS IN SOUTH AFRICA. We would like to see more of our community and neighbours working in conjunction with Nature Conservation ideals to make their properties financially viable and we would be more than happy to discuss and help with these matters to work to everybody’s benefit, which is very possible in almost all cases. We want to find financially sound and friendly solutions, not start local wars.
For now, we have prevented the removal of the game, and we are extremely happy about this, so well done to everybody for taking a stand against this attempt to remove the Valley’s animals. Although, as Conservationists, we have a fair idea of the carrying capacity and quantities of game in the Protected Area, we would like to implement an official game count from Ezemvelo … and, IF there are excess animals/males in our area, then, as a Protected Environment, we would like this scientifically studied, done officially and  properly and the MPELA (Mpushini Protected Area Land Owners Association) need to be consulted as to what happens to the wildlife in their area, as we certainly cannot accept random land owners on the periphery of much hard work and dedication deciding to capture the area’s wild game from our efforts to preserve the same area. Funds from such a capture, IF needed, would be well used to further the Conservation of the area and make viable business plans that DO work in this area! 
A member of Ezemvelo mistakenly issued this permit and we were very taken aback at this action. We had previously touched on the subject beforehand trying to revoke this very sudden issue of the permit. We had requested that Ezemvelo withdraw this permit on the grounds that there are fee roaming animals which form part of the ecosystem of this region. As Protected Environment Property owners, we feel that Ezemvelo have certain obligations to fulfil under the Stwardship arrangement in place. If game capture in this area is to be allowed in this area ta any stage, we require consultation on the matter and evidence of adherence to required procedures. We have now asked for a full investigation to be launched to ensure that the proper procedures adhered to with regard to assessment and game count prior to permit approval. We would like to work hand in hand with Ezemvelo and Mr Van Huysteen of Starlight farm on resolving this issue.  
Yours Sincerely
Nick May
(On behalf of MPELA, The Lower Mpushini Valley Conservancy (and Associated Conservation agencies) and the concerned Residents of The Lower Mpushini Valley )
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About Rob Symons

My name is Rob Symons. I live in Pietermaritzburg, kwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. MuthiMuthi is my Zulu nickname which means tall tree. I am an Organic Farmer and an environmentalist. I live and work on Broadleaze Farm in the Mkondeni valley on the eastern outskirts of Pietermaritzburg.
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