Most humans are spoilt for choice when they walk into stores and take their pick, often without hesitation, from a selection of hundreds of different styles, colours and brands of shoes. However, this privilege that is so often taken for granted is not available to everyone.  Millions of people do not own a single pair of shoes. 

The importance of shoes should not be overlooked.  Shoes provide vital protection and comfort. Many children in rural Southern Africa do not have shoes, it is difficult and dangerous for them to walk to school through rough terrain especially in the cold winter months. 

Whilst no child chooses to be born into poverty, the high rate of unemployment which has been exacerbated by the COVID_19 global pandemic has led to increased poverty in many parts of South Africa. 

Footwear improves the quality of life, provides protection, prevents injury and disease. Not all feet are perfect, so properly fitting shoes can help align feet, ankles, knees, hips and back to correct and improve posture. 

In most cultures shoes are representative of social status or an extension of one’s self, shoes can effect perception of others as well as ourselves. 

In September 2021, the EMS Foundation and the Shambala Private Reserve donated 600 pairs of shoes to children in the Vaalwater district of Limpopo. Through our partnership we are committed to an on-going support of the children in that area.

The Mayor and the Limpopo Department of Education identified the children in most need of a pair of shoes, and together with management of Shambala Private Game Reserve were on hand to assist with the delivery of the shoes.

©The EMS Foundation 2021. All Rights Reserved.




“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river.  We need to go upstream and find out why they are falling in.” Desmond Tutu

A brilliant academic, accepted into the Witwatersrand Medical School but unable to afford the tuition, Desmond Tutu enrolled at the Bantu Normal College and elected to study teaching. In 1955 Desmond Tutu started his career as a high school teacher after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Teacher’s Diploma. 

Disillusioned with the Bantu Education Act which offered black students only a rudimentary education he enrolled at St Peter’s Theological College where he studied Anglican doctrine and Christian Ethics.  He studied further at King’s College, London and obtained a Bachelor of Divinity Honours and a Masters of Theology.    Desmond Tutu was the first black African man to be appointed as Dean of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg.  He will always be most remembered for his contribution towards the peaceful liberation in South Africa, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. After serving as Bishop of Johannesburg in 1985 and Archbishop of Cape Town in 1986, he was elected as President of All African Conference of Churches in 1987. He played a pivotal role in South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In recognition of his love of literature and education Tutu has been awarded numerous honory degrees and many schools and scholarships have been named after him. 

The Shambala Private Reserve in Limpopo has played a positive role in the lives of many young people living in the surrounding rural communities. Shambala and the EMS Foundation have, together, concentrated on educational and food security initiatives in order to bring about positive and tangible change. 

Education is the key to success. Shambala and the EMS Foundation know that increased access to education can contribute to reducing poverty.  Acquiring basic skills such as reading, writing and numeracy have a documented positive effect on marginalized population incomes. 

The aptly named, Tutudesk, is a Proudly South African product that is locally produced, supporting local employment and the development of the South African economy.   Made from a blend of materials the portable desk is child-friendly weighing less than 1 kilogram, the desks are certainly robust.

It is impossible to work hard at school if you do not have the correct tools.  Having a school desk is of the upmost importance. Shambala Private Game Reserve and the EMS Foundation have donated thousands of Tutudesks to learners in Limpopo Province. 

These images were taken by Shambala Private Game Reserve in September 2021. The desks are well loved and are serving an important purpose.

Happy 90th Birthday Desmond Tutu from everyone at Shambala and the EMS Foundation.  May you continue to inspire all young South Africans. 

©The EMS Foundation 2021. All Rights Reserved.





The guardians of the singular, largest group of wild rhino in the world announced the long awaited number of rhino in their care, the figures confirmed a devastating loss of life. 

Using a sample block counting method, 50% of the total Kruger National Park was surveyed. The resulting estimated number of rhino was published in the SANParks 2019-2020 Annual Report

The number of rhinos illegally killed annually in the national parks of South Africa  realistically reflects the minimum number of deceased rhino.  There is a certain amount of difficulty in detecting or finding the remains of every deceased rhino in the dense African bush.  The accuracy of the published information is also reliant upon the data handed in and collated by authorities.  

The very low number of remaining rhino in the Kruger National Park is indicative of  the illegal killing of rhino for their horns by often unknown attackers since 2008.  Hundreds of rhino were also sold to locally based trophy hunters, canned lion hunters, to international trophy hunters, to international zoos and to rhino breeders. 

In addition, the EMS Foundation’s retrospective report Where Have All the Rhino Gone includes familiar names of people involved in the game breeding industry, ex policemen and veterinarians who have been arrested and charged with wildlife crimes over the past two decades.  This information demonstrates that the illegal killing of rhino in South Africa for their horn has not only been carried out by anonymous individuals. 

The research revealed the disappointing reality that Howard Buffett, the American philanthropist and businessman, was not able to complete his R255 million grant to the Kruger National Park to assist with the prevention of the illegal killing of rhino due to a poor internal work ethic. 

In a statement made by SANParks board on the 20th of February 2012 they confirmed that they had received an inquiry from the office of the Public Protector in Nelspruit. A number of companies contracted to the Kruger National Park were alleged to be owned by family, friends or associates of senior officials in the Kruger National Park. 

Whilst the EMS Foundation was unable to substantiate the aforementioned allegation, we were, however able confirm that a company contracted to the Kruger National Park and to SANParks from 2002-2016 was directly linked to Jacob Zuma. 

Over the past two decades the survival of the rhino living in the Kruger National Park has had everything stacked against them including questionable, critical management  decisions, the possible involvement of corrupt politicians, the direct involvement of wildlife veterinarians, members of the South African police servicesSANParks employees which has directly or indirectly led to their deaths. 

IMAGE CREDIT: Gurcharan Roopra


©The EMS Foundation 2021. All Rights Reserved.




Elephants Killed for Trophies in the Kruger National Park System, South Africa

The EMS Foundation has confirmed, via an access to information request to the Limpopo government (LEDET), that in 2020 four male elephants were killed for trophies in an open system with the Kruger National Park – the Balule Reserve. In addition, in 2020, one male elephant was also trophy hunted in the Maremani Nature Reserve, which belongs to the Danish Aage V. Jensen Foundation –                                       

Trophy Hunting VS Ubuntu

Trophy hunting is the killing of wild animals for recreation with the purpose of collecting trophies such as horns, antlers, skulls, skins, tusks or teeth for display. Trophy hunting, like poaching, artificially selects the biggest and strongest animals (largest tusks and thickest manes), weakening populations’ genetic health and variation. Therefore, while revenue may be forthcoming in the short term from such extraction, the longer-term effects are that population growth dynamics are negatively affected.

The incentives that drive trophy hunting (selecting the strongest) are fundamentally at odds with the conservation imperative (preserving the strongest). Beyond the negative ecological effects, the practice remains rooted in colonial modes of extraction. Some also argue that trophy hunting is reinforcing deep apartheid era social and racial inequalities in Africa because organised hunting of endangered wildlife mostly benefits wealthy white landowners while exploiting black workers by paying them pitiful wages. 

Trophy hunting is in stark contradiction with African value systems such as Ubuntu (where harmony, connectedness and respect extend beyond human relationships to the whole living world) and notions of communal commitment to the protection of animals. As Dr Mucha Mkono noted in her article: Neo-colonialism and greed: Africans views on trophy hunting in social media, while a hunter might have a permit to hunt and shoot an animal, if the community and environment suffer it is considered that the principles of Ubuntu have been violated. Furthermore, she says that: “Ubuntu, being grounded in an attitude of caring and compassion, does not excuse gratuitous violence towards individual animals.”  

Balule Private Nature Reserve and the Killing of Elephants

Elephants are irreplaceable ecosystem engineers and their removal negatively impacts ecosystem integrity and biodiversity preservation.  Trophy hunters justify targeting older bull elephants on the grounds they are “redundant”. But, a recent study shows that old male elephants play a key role leading all-male groups. Also, when trophy hunters eliminate older bulls, they destroy elephant family integrity (through trauma and removal of the discipline and knowledge transfer functions executed by patriarchs) and force matriarchs to mate with younger bulls they would otherwise not have selected, thereby skewing reproduction patterns.   

Pre-Covid-19, approximately 950 000 people visited the world-renowned Kruger National Park (KNP) every year. With an annual budget of close to 1 billion ZAR 80% of this conservation income is self-generated through its thriving tourism activities within these wild, natural and protected spaces. 

A classic example of entrenched white privilege is the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR) in South Africa, bordering the KNP. The six private reserves each comprise a number of different private owners and farms. By 1996, these reserves had almost no elephants left as they had been hunted to near extinction. The fences were dropped in 1993 – before the end of apartheid – on the premise of creating ‘ecological unity’ between the APNR and the KNP itself. Commercial hunting, in the 1996 agreement, was not mentioned at all. Animals under public custodianship (KNP) now move freely between the APNR and the KNP. Far from creating ecological unity, however, they are treated as res nullius (nobody’s property) in the APNR and are hunted. The APNR allows the commercial trophy hunting of a number of animals, including elephants, lions and buffalos. These animals are part of the country’s national heritage but are permitted to be shot by foreign trophy hunters for the benefit of a small number of wealthy white landowners. How much money actually accrues to local communities remains unknown due to a lack of transparency in the industry. 

Balule Private Game Reserve is located along the banks of the Olifants River between Phalaborwa and Hoedspruit in the Limpopo Province. Balule shares an un-fenced border with the KNP and is one of the APNRs. According to various websites there are twenty-six unique options from budget to luxury accommodation available. 

The ecological benefits of sharing an open system with the KNP has made Balule a popular ecotourism destination and protection efforts have ensured that the wildlife population includes an abundance of lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and black rhino. 

Trophy hunting is permitted in Balule Private Nature Reserve despite what this article states. 

The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs raised concerns regarding the law governing hunting in the Kruger National Park and about contractual arrangements between the Kruger National Park and the Association of Private Nature Reserves in September 2018.

Unfortunately, over the past three years a number of trophy hunts in Balule have provided very negative media attention. On the 28th of November 2018 Balule issued a statement:

“We wish to express deep regret that visitors to the reserve had to endure a harrowing and traumatising incident in which an elephant was shot by hunters near the lodge that visitors were staying at.  We apologize profusely and unreservedly to those affected.

Based on witness accounts gathered to date, this incident seems not to comply with the sustainable utilisation model of ethical hunting in accordance with the hunting protocol that governs all reserves within the Associated Private Nature Reserves to which Balule and hence Maseke are bound.”

The incident took place on the 23rd November, a young elephant bull was shot 13 times in front of our eye-witnesses standing on a viewing deck overlooking Balule’s Maseke Game Reserve where the hunt took place. The eye witnesses disputed the findings of the investigation

In August of the same year, again in Balule, a collared male elephant aged between 20 and 30 years with tusks of 30 pounds each was shot and killed illegally.  Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Authority laid criminal charges against the culprit. Frikkie Kotze pleaded guilty to the charges and was fined five years in prison or R50 000.00 both suspended for five years.  He had to pay Elephants Alive R35000.00 to replace the collar.   The hunting party consisted of Kotze, the professional hunter and outfitter JJ Horn, the client and his wife. 

The reason that this hunt was illegal was because the permit for this hunt was issued by the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism known as LEDET, whose mission it is to create and facilitate the development of a competitive economy, sustainable environment and tourism growth, the elephant was killed in the Mpumalanga Province.

The elephant was collared and part of an ongoing research project by Elephants Alive!  The chairperson of Balule Nature Reserve, Sharon Haussmann, stated that she was determined to stamp out illegal activities and actions that breach accepted protocol. 

Balule Private Nature Reserve was in the global headline news once more when in 2019 the People for the Ethical Treatment  of Animals PETA published the facts about Aaron Raby who killed an elephant on the 5th December 2019 there.  The elephant suffered a cruel, needlessly prolonged and inarguably painful death. 

Hunting of iconic wild animals in the APNR’s has a negative effect on South Africa’s conservation reputation, on eco-tourism and on Brand South Africa.  The problem with simplistic analyses supporting hunting is that they fail to recognise that trophy hunting and non-consumptive ecotourism are increasingly mutually exclusive. Moreover, the training and so-called qualifications of professional hunters is of an extremely low standard with provincial legislation accepts a training certificate from a 10-day course as the minimum standard.

The EMS Foundation believes that an immediate moratorium on trophy hunting in the APNR reserves should be imposed while: 

  1. policy is being developed
  2. a review and feasibility of the agreement between SANParks and the APNR and all relevant protocols is undertaken and the public given an opportunity to participate meaningfully in all these processes. 

©The EMS Foundation 2021. All Rights Reserved.




Focusing Exclusively on Lion Trophy Hunting

The exploitation of wild animals has been identified as one of the dominant drivers of biodiversity loss, emergence of zoonotic infectious disease, animal suffering, and financial instability. 

Lion populations have dropped by more than 40% in the past two decades. There are approximately 20000 wild lions in Africa, with only 3000 in South Africa. Lions are most significantly impacted by illegal hunting, body part trade, revenge killings, habitat loss and fragmentation, and, according to Panthera, by unsustainable trophy hunting. 

Trophy hunting is the killing of wild animals for recreation with the purpose of collecting trophies such as horns, antlers, skulls, skins, tusks or teeth for display. Trophy hunting, like poaching, artificially selects the biggest and strongest animals (largest tusks and thickest manes), weakening populations’ genetic health and variation. Therefore, while revenue may be forthcoming in the short term from such extraction, the longer-term effects are that population growth dynamics are negatively affected.

According to some conservationists, those that question the trophy hunting of lion pride leaders such as Cecil, Xanda, Seduli, Mopane and Skye, are uninformed. They do not seem believe that the trophy hunting of male lions are a major threat to the conservation of lion. However, other academics argue that the continuing complicity by these conservationists without fully exhausting other options is not appropriate. 

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service unless reforms are made to the current management of lion trophy hunting, worrying declines in lion populations from excessive hunting in certain regions will continue. The idea that trophy hunters only eliminate ‘surplus’ animals is patently untrue. Repeatedly in southern Africa, the biggest and strongest male lions (in their reproductive prime) are shot. Younger lions entering the pride often execute infanticide on their predecessor’s cubs, thus reducing numbers and further weakening the gene pool. 

The incentives that drive trophy hunting (selecting the strongest) are fundamentally at odds with the conservation imperative (preserving the strongest). Beyond the negative ecological effects, the practice remains rooted in colonial modes of extraction.

On the 5th of August 2021 a twelve-year old pride male lion, named Mopane by locals, was baited out of the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and shot dead with a bow by a trophy hunter.  Mopane leaves behind a pride with two litters of sub adult offspring.  Without the protection of Mopane, there is very little chance of survival for these nineteen cubs.

Lions of all ages are being shot and the trophy hunting industry lies and reinvents the justifications each time to suit their need to keep their business model rolling.  There can be no better example of this statement than The hunting of Skye in the Greater Kruger National Park. 

Tourism concession owners in Hwange National Park have been particularly outspoken about the hunt of Mopane and have described it as unethical, egotistical and greedy. 

On the same day as the Mopane hunt Amy Dickman published an article stating that: “Trophy hunting today simply isn’t a major threat to wildlife, even for species like lions and for some species, it has directly improved their conservation.” 

Image Credit: Villiers Steyn / Getty Images

©The EMS Foundation 2021. All Rights Reserved.



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