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Yesterday (24 November 2019), the SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary Board of Trustees of the released a media statement indicating that Mr Andre Grobler – co-founder and manager of the Sanctuary – had been voted off the Board on 22 November 2019. Mr Grobler has been accused of acting in a clandestine manner and violating the provisions of the Trust Deed. Among other things, he has been accused of attempting to sell eight sanctuary lions to Mr Jan Steinman, who has been charged with animal cruelty and allegedly is involved in canned hunting. 

A wildlife sanctuary is an area of land managed in order to conserve and protect wildlife. A place of refuge and safety where suitable living conditions are offered to the wildlife until their natural deaths. Genuine sanctuaries do not breed or trade in wildlife, nor do they offer interactions with human visitors. 

For 20 years the SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary, situated in Gravelotte in Limpopo, has received public donations in its capacity as a public benefit organisation in order to sustain itself. Under Mr Grobler’s tenure, the Sanctuary has been grossly mismanaged, as clearly indicated by the media statement referred to above. Public money has been misappropriated and the animals treated as mere commodities, the very opposite of a sanctuary.

We, a group of concerned wildlife conservation and protection organisations, have been invited by the remaining trustees to urgently assist with an interim emergency intervention with regards to the protection and safeguarding of the remaining wild animals at the sanctuary and find a solution for the feeding of the predators. 

In return, we have asked for full disclosure of the current financial situation of the Trust. We have also asked for an explanation for the documentation that we have received with regards to the attempts by Grobler and his family to sell the SanWild lions to Jan Steinman, and the attempts to sell the lion on a hunting WhatsApp group. Furthermore, we have requested information about the allegations and extent of indiscriminate hunting of wildlife, which by his own admission has been taking place at the sanctuary. 

We will be conducting a site visit with the relevant authorities and specialists to check on the wildlife. It will be necessary to conduct a census of the wild animals remaining at the sanctuary. From our investigations, the management of the SanWild Wildlife Trust took it upon themselves to sell a section of the land in 2015, without the knowledge or permission of their donors or relevant wildlife authorities, this also needs investigation. 

Collectively we are in the process of determining the best possible short-term solutions to protect the remaining wild animals at Sanwild from further harm and to act in their best interests. In this process, we will be working closely with the SanWild Board of Trustees to ensure that long-term solutions will also be found.


The EMS Foundation

The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos Organisation

The Aspinall Foundation 

The African Pangolin Working Group

The Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital 

Four Paws South Africa

The Elephant Reintegration Trust

Ban Animal Trading South Africa 

The Humane Society International 

Thank you for your concern.  Please feel free to contact info@sanwild.org

Image Credit: Elephant at SanWild, EMS Foundation 2019

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