50|50 Episode 3 – 25 June 2012

Killing Crocs

When we see a fur jacket the first thing that springs to mind is ‘Beauty without cruelty”, but not so for that crocodile leather purse…. Crocodile skin boots, handbags and belts are high fashion items that come at a high price for your pocket but also a high price 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 very lucrative business, an industry even. But unfortunately crocodiles are being treated as commodities rather than animals and some farmers are getting away with it. We see some shocking footage of the cruel treatment of farmed crocodiles in terms of the conditions they are kept in and the inhumane slaughter of the baby crocodiles. 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 with the laughter of children playing or merry voices picnicking! But not anymore. The park now lies under a swamp of acid mine water laden with a cocktail of toxic, radioactive chemicals seeping from nearby abandoned mines. Nowhere in sight, is there a warning sign and City Parks continues to “service” the park, cutting the lawn in spite of the sludge. The community is outraged but children naively peddle bicycles and kick soccer balls through the toxic water none-the-less…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 bizarre 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 ranging from profound love to astonishing rage. These people 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 in the morning when I woke up and walked to work. I was woken up by elephants pulling trees over outside my room at night; I saw the sunrise every morning (no matter what time I went to bed); I had to take detours to avoid walking into hippo on my way home at night. My job description included spending time on foot with rhinos, elephants, lions, leopards and wild dogs. There was a complete absence of noise, offices, take out joints, tired bars filled with bored people looking for something else and, especially, corporate culture. Problem is, I’m an introvert so working with high-paying, expectant international travellers became a deep trial”. In the book “A year in the wild” James uses his experiences in the bush to create a wonderland of characters that bring this lifestyle alive…and possibly allows his more cynical self to express itself through “Angus” the unruly ranger as Sasikile Lodge. But in real life, James’ 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!


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