Statement by Wilfried Pabst, founder Sango Wildlife Conservancy, commenting on the termination of the “Rewild Zambezi” partnership between the Savé Valley Conservancy as well as the Sango Wildlife Conservancy and Great Plains Foundation.
October 20, 2022
Great Plains Foundation and its staff have made numerous recent public statements that are misleading, factually incorrect, and damaging to the reputation of Savé Valley Conservancy (SVC) and Sango Wildlife Conservancy (Sango).
In 2022, the Savé Valley Conservancy and the Sango Wildlife Conservancy entered into a partnership with the Great Plains Foundation under which they committed to donate wildlife at no cost to the Rewild Zambezi project. The SVC’s conservation model based on the use of and funding by sustainable hunting proved to be highly successful. The relocation was prepared with anticipation of the ever growing wildlife herds and the known inability to increase the SVC’s landmass at the same time. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was agreed as the basis for this relocation of a total of ~2,700 wild animals, planned over a two year period.
In the MOU, Great Plains Foundation and all pledged to coordinate public outreach efforts with its partners and not to discredit its partners’ reputations in any way. This pledge was not honored by the Great Plains Foundation. The SVC and Sango repeatedly attempted to get the Great Plains Foundation to honor this agreement and to engage in factual, truthful reporting. Great Plains Foundation rejected these interventions and continued to make misleading statements. Among others and as an example, the following inaccurate statements were disseminated:
“…animals will die if they are not relocated…”
“…animals would be culled if they are not relocated…”
“…It costs $10,000 to relocate each elephant…”
“…to save 400 elephants from drought…” –
“…Climate change has made food and water scarce in the Save…”
“…Kill them or relocate them…”
In order to protect Sango’s and my reputation from the effects of this behavior, the consequences this might have for our credibility and reputation built over nearly 30 years, and our >130 employees, we felt compelled to terminate our partnership with the Great Plains Foundation.
After six successful relocations of wildlife in the past (including 100 elephants, rhinos) and the proof of how good conservation through sustainable use besides other successful models use can be, Sango will do everything in their power to assist and help find safe destinations for the remaining animals of this project and in the future.
Detailed information about our conservation model, the situation in the Savé Valley and a list of “fact checks” of the misleading GPF statements is available upon request.
Please send your requests to: press@sango- wildlife.com
About Savé Valley Conservancy & Sango Wildlife Conservancy
30 years of successful sustainable use
The Savé Valley Conservancy was formed over 30 years ago after an epic drought brought an end to cattle ranching and with it, the realisation that wildlife was the only viable future for the area. This dovetailed perfectly with the arrival of the first Black Rhino which had been moved from the Zambezi Valley where they were being poached to extinction.
All internal fences were removed from an area totaling 3,442sq km and a 350 km electrical double perimeter fence was constructed. Approximately 4,000 animals of 14 species were reintroduced, including elephants in the largest translocation of that species ever undertaken.
As is well known the sustainable hunting model was chosen as the business model to fund this visionary project and the clear results achieved are exceptionally positive.
Because of the size of the area and the enormous habitat diversity contained therein the conservation of the full range of indigenous mammals was possible and the ecological value of the area is today considerably greater than that of most game areas in southern Africa. Wildlife populations increased rapidly, including those of several threatened and endangered species, and the SVC developed into a conservation area of global significance. Amongst others, the SVC now contains a viable population of critically endangered black rhinos, a healthy number of endangered African wild dogs, a rapidly growing population of African lions and significant populations of other threatened species, such as southern ground hornbills, lappet faced vultures, elephants, cheetahs, and white rhinos.
Plans to involve surrounding communities in the Conservancy were initiated early on with the formation of the Save Valley Conservancy Community Trust.
The successful model in the Save Valley follows WWF’s trophy hunting policy from July 2016:
Human population pressures on the SVC boundaries were addressed by erecting a 350 km fence on the outside of the SVC facilitating rural agriculture to exist outside but side by side with the SVC’s wildlife thriving within. However, the fence and the human habitation beyond by their nature eliminated all natural migrations of wildlife species under pressure and thus the conservation success of the SVC also created its challenge: overpopulation of some species such a elephants, other plains game and lions to mention a few.
Therefore the idea of destocking wildlife species by donating and thus translocating them to underpopulated conservation areas was born. In this the 7th such translocation, Great Plains Foundation had become and were made partner until today.