Posted by Chris & Mathilde Stuart on Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Up to 2014 game prices in South Africa soared, driven by a
small number of wealthy buyers. Some game species saw prices at auctions soar
by 5 times over the course of six years. In that year game ranching was valued
at over 12 billion Rand. One saw the likes of billionaires Anton Rupert paying
the obscene price of R 40 million for a single Buffalo bull, Cyril Ramaphosa
joined the fray paying similar prices. Then along came the mutant colour forms,
the ‘Golden Wildebeest’ (we have blogged about this before), ‘White Kudu’, not
to mention the common, or garden, ‘Copper’ and ‘Black Springbok’. A small
number of very rich people (the 1%-ers) were driving the market, as they do
with any other commodities.
Then along came the economic slump in 2015 with expensive
game species losing value by 30-40% - cheaper but not cheap. To aggravate
things further, South Africa is in the depths of a severe drought. For those 1%-ers
like Rupert and Ramaphosa, who first drove the market, paying for feed or
off-loading a value-declining asset is pocket money, but for those smaller
operators that switched from cattle to game it takes on a more serious hue.
How much does all this have to do with conservation? Our
feeling is not much - but game will only continue to survive if it retains
value. Those that dabbled in rare, high priced, game such as Buffalo and the
increasing number of colour mutants beware! The ‘bubble’ is about to burst. We
note that the game industry pundits claim that it is all tied to the general
economic decline and it is not a ‘bubble’. But then they would, wouldn’t they?
We are not against game farming, culling or trophy hunting
but it might be time for wise heads to ponder the future! We hope a balanced
and realistic view will prevail! Balanced game farming is what is required and
not the extremes that we have been seeing in recent years!