When we see a jacket made of animal fur, the first thing that springs to mind is the slogan ‘Beauty without cruelty’. But do we feel the same when we see a crocodile-skin purse?
Crocodile-skin boots, handbags and belts are sought-after fashion items that come at a high price, both for your pocket and for the crocodiles themselves. And yet some South African crocodile farmers have been flying under the radar … until now. Crocodile farming in South Africa is a very lucrative business, even an industry. But the crocodiles are being treated as commodities rather than as animals and some farmers are getting away with their actions. We see some shocking footage of the cruel treatment of farmed crocodiles: the terrible conditions they are kept in and the inhumane slaughter of their young. Together with the NSPCA, 50/50 examines the good, the bad and the ugly of the crocodile farming industry.
Park AMD Swamp
Mitchell’s Park in Davidsonville, west of Johannesburg, is usually the centre of community life, filled with the laughter of playing children or the merry voices of picnickers. But not any more. The park now lies under a swamp of acid mine water laden with a cocktail of toxic, radioactive chemicals seeping from nearby abandoned mines. There are no warning signs in sight, City Parks continues to ‘service’ the area, cutting the lawn in spite of the sludge. The community is outraged, but their children naively pedal their bikes and kick soccer balls through the toxic water nonetheless. It is after all, opposite Langeni Primary School! 50/50 attempts to get to the bottom of this sticky problem…
Interview James Hendry
According to naturalist and musician James Hendry, a game lodge is an insane place to work. He says the collection of people that end up working in the bush make it a place of endless colour, humour, romance and tragedy. ‘The people I worked with filled me with emotions from profound love to astonishing rage. They ranged from city dwellers with advanced degrees to illiterate rural people filled with local knowledge and steeped in a culture I would never have encountered had I chosen a more conventional route in life. Working in a wild place filled me with a sense of peace when I woke up in the morning. I was roused at night by elephants pulling trees over outside my room; I saw the sunrise every morning (no matter what time I went to bed); I had to take detours to avoid walking into hippos on my way home in the evening. My job description included spending time on foot with rhinos, elephants, lions, leopards and African wild dogs. There was a complete absence of noise, offices, take-away joints, tired bars filled with bored people looking for something else and, especially, corporate culture. The problem is that I’m an introvert; working with high-paying, expectant international travellers became a deep trial.’ In his bookA Year in the Wild, James draws on his experiences to create a wonderland of characters that bring the bush to life; and possibly allows his more cynical side to express itself through Angus, the unruly ranger at Sasikile Lodge. In real life, James’s experiences and talents are not limited to field guiding…
In VeldFokus this week: blue dragons, some monkey business and a froggy that went a-riding!