Friday, August 20

Its so ... fluffy!

Another human interest piece on South Africa by Michael Wines. You'd swear there wasnt any real news to report on in this country.

The corn on Casparus Joubert's farm is as high as an elephant's eye, or would be, were any elephants around. There aren't - yet. But it is not out of the realm of possibility. "We'll start out with reedbuck, zebras, all the small antelope," Mr. Joubert, a big, blond man with a booming voice, said during a recent chat in his farm office. "Later we'll put in rhino and giraffe, because they need an additional game fence. And the third phase will be to put in predators."

The NY Times likes these pieces because it allows them to show pictures of shantytowns with captions like;

"As some South African farmers shift to big game, their laborers are being moved into shantytowns like this".

Only its not really true that workers are necessarily losing their jobs, as you learn later in the article.

Tourist sites need workers, though, and Mr. Joubert said his preserve would generate jobs paying as much as or better than farm labor. Mr. Gaisford, of the parks agency, says one cattle rancher who employed a dozen laborers wound up employing 100 workers on his game ranch.

So, the only problem really is tenants who dont work on the farm that have to move elsewhere. The farmer is being pretty generous in their story, to put it mildly:

To ease the transition, Mr. Joubert says, he has offered tenants space on a nearly 1,100-acre farm or a cash settlement to move elsewhere.

But someone has got to be suffering otherwise where is the human interest.

But the moves are seldom pleasant for either side, and those tenants who accept a settlement and move are sometimes filled with remorse. "Nobody's working, and only one woman is earning a pension from the government," said 62-year-old Jonas Shabalala, who took a $1,500 payment from the Jouberts and moved his family of 12 to a barren mud hut. Mr. Shabalala now has no land to grow crops or raise cattle. "We are all depending on that one woman to live," he said.

So he wanted the money instead of an alternative piece of land and now he's sorry?

One thing though. The largest part of South Africa is too dry and arid for a safari lodge. Very few regions in South Africa have the plant growth or rainfall to support the density of wildlife that justifies a safari lodge. The majority of farmers that become game farmers do so to attract hunters, because the density of game isnt that important to people only looking for one or two animals.

This has been going on now for a number of years, with the result that there is now more wild game in South Africa than there were in the 1930's. The real story here is not the safari lodges, which only make up a small percentage of the game farms, but the hunting lodges.

These future of these lodges are threatened however by the gun laws that have been introduced by South Africa. It makes it almost impossible for hunters to bring their rifles into the country. A hunter want to use his own equipment. Period. More than the law, it is the uncertainty and the bureaucratic bungling that is causing the most harm. If there is a 'news' story here it is that a very profitable sector of the economy is being threatened by draconian guns laws that wont have any affect on crime, its supposed target.


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