ems foundation logo


The SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary

“The only beneficiaries of the SanWild Wildlife Trust established in 2000, is the animals, the trustees are merely the custodians”.

An offer has been presented to the trustees of the SanWild Wildlife Trust which translates into an enormous investment. The offer has been made with the best interests of the wild animals at SanWild at heart, as well as that of the legacy of the SanWild Trust. The offer has been made despite SanWild’s complicated history, the lack of public trust and support, and the on-going and immense problems that it is facing.  


Tuesday 25th February 2020

Dear Lizel Kachehoffer, Wim Scheepers and Walter Swanepoel,  


Wim Scheepers, the legal co-Council of the disgraced former trustee and co-founder of the SandWild Wildlife Trust, Andre Grobler, requested the financial assistance of interested individuals and organisations in September 2019 with regard to saving the SanWild Wildlife sanctuary.  This request was made publicly on two different Facebook posts.  

In response, and as you are aware, the EMS Foundation together with a number of South African wildlife organisations have for a number of months been trying to accurately assess the situation at SanWild. This was embarked upon because:

  1. Many wildlife organisations and individuals entrusted and relocated wild animals to SanWild for safe-keeping and care; 
  2. SanWild is publicly accountable because it is a not-for-profit Trust and  sanctuary with NPO and PBO status; 
  3. A number of organisations and individuals – both locally and abroad – have donated large amounts of money to SanWild; 
  4. Disturbing and alarming facts had emerged about the goings-on at SanWild (including illegal activity), its sustainability and the safety of the animals entrusted to SanWild over a number of years, including, but not limited to: the controversial sale, in 2015, of the entire sanctuary and main tourist facilities, including the clinic and office, without public notification; and the recent exposes relating to the  hunting of wildlife at SanWild, the proposed sale of the lion to Jan Steinman, the proposed sale of the lion to a trophy hunting website and the proposed sale of the SanWild property with the rhino and elephant; 
  5. The land on which SanWild operates was donated to SanWild by the Adam Murry Foundation; 
  6. There is a need to find a long term solution for the wildlife that have managed to survive on what is left of SanWild. 

To this end we engaged with your Trustees in writing, requesting information, including a number of documents. We  also visited SanWild on a number of occasions to try to  fully understand and grapple with the issues at hand and to assess what kind of solution(s) could be found to ensure that the animals entrusted to SanWild – as per the SanWild Trust’s mandate – would be safe and protected going into the future. 

The EMS Foundation has spent a lot of time and energy liaising with your Trustees and others, including aggregating as much information as possible for the interested and concerned wildlife conservation and protection organisations, as well as for the individuals who have donated funds to SanWild over the years.  

As part of this liaison, an internationally acclaimed organisation, which has been operating for more than 30 years on three continents, specifically in the field of wildlife rescue, sanctuary and rehabilitation, put forward a wonderful proposal and offer as a way forward and long term solution aimed at securing the future of the wildlife on SanWild and the saving of Face for SanWild and its Trustees. 

This lifeline would also ensure that SanWild’s  primary vision and the reason for which it was established continues, albeit not as the SanWild Trust per se, but certainly totally in accordance with the founding document and establishment of this sanctuary whereby the only beneficiaries are the wildlife and to assist wild animals in need. 

It is plain that SanWild cannot continue on its current trajectory and it would be counter-intuitive for it to continue within its existing framework of the SanWild Wildlife Trust. It is an unfortunate reality that the SanWild name and brand is now enormously tainted and untrustworthy. In addition there are outstanding criminal charges against the trust or trustees.  There are ongoing investigations into how the Trust operated from a financial perspective.  There is a criminal investigation regarding the irregularities pertaining to rhino horn, the ivory and the permits for these as well as  the recent robbery of rhino horns, elephant tusks, guns and ammunition, which occurred at the end of January 2019. 

As you are aware the proposal/offer was communicated to one of your Trustees, Lizel Kachelhoffer on the 18thof December 2019. Amongst other things, the offer also included: 

  1. The settlement of all the debts of the Trust, these include the amounts that are outstanding according to figures that you sent to us, many of them for a great number of years, and some of them to donors who have, as recently as 2019,accused the Trust of misappropriation of their funds.  As we understand it there are also a number of individuals and organisations, who also have legitimate financial claims against the SanWild Wildlife Trust who have contacted us.  We have been made aware of allegations of human rights abuses by former employees of SanWild which also may need to be settled. 
  2. The repair and upgrading of all infrastructure, including perimeter fencing, lion enclosures, security systems, etc.
  3. Permanent, on-site experienced and qualified wildlife conservation management team.
  4. Employment of experienced qualified anti-poaching unit. 
  5. The inclusion of Lizel Kachelhoffer in an ex-officio position. 

This offer – which translates into an enormous investment – was made with the best interests of the wild animals at SanWild at heart, as well as that of the legacy of the SanWild Trust. It has been made despite SanWild’s complicated history, lack of public trust and support, and the on-going and immense problems that it is facing.  

Given the above, the precariousness of SanWild and mounting public concern, we, therefore, cannot understand why there has been no official response by your Trustees to this offer.  We therefore kindly request that you respond to this generous offer in writing by end of business on Friday the 28th February 2020.

Michele Pickover, Director of the EMS Foundation

The Elephant Reintergration Trust 

The Endangered Wildlife Trust

Four Paws International

Four Paws South Africa

Ban Animal Trading

Global March for Elephants and Rhinos

The Aspinall Foundation

The Humane Society International 

The African Pangolin Working Group 

Green Girls in Africa

Future 4 Wildlife 

The Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital 

© Copyright EMS Foundation 2020. All rights reserved.