A Year In Review At CACH

A Year In Review At CACH

2016 At CACH

A Year In Review At CACH – Chris Mercer – The year has been overshadowed by the unexpected illness and death of my partner Bev. The cancer struck in August last year but from the beginning of this year she was in and out of hospital. Her egregious suffering finally came to an end on 30th April. She was 68 years old.


Chris Mercer – Making A Difference

chris mercer

Her death was followed by all the bureaucracy involved in winding up a deceased estate; the visits to the office of the Master of the High Court, the compulsory attendance at the tax offices to register the estate etc all involving travel away from home in the Karoo.

A word about cannabis oil. Still illegal in South Africa, notwithstanding the heroic efforts of IFP parliamentarian Dr Mario Ambrosini who fought for the legalisation of medical marijuana until the cancer claimed him too. When you are desperate you will try anything and through various contacts we managed to obtain a supply of medical grade cannabis oil at horrendous expense. Bev took her dosage regularly but looking back on it, I don’t think it had any beneficial effect at all.

When the pain got too bad Bev just wanted to die but assisted suicide is not legal in South Africa either. I cannot understand why an elderly terminal patient who wishes to choose the time and manner of her death should not be allowed to do so. It is uncivilised. Instead Bev was condemned to suffer the most unimaginable pain for many months and for what?

As for the treatment of pain in advanced cancer patients, medical technology has not advanced since the Second World War. Drown the patient in morphine is the primitive treatment. Why on earth in the modern era they cannot target pain receptors in the brain and disable them with lasers or something 21st-century I do not know.
The Karoo Wildlife Centre:

We were very busy at the beginning of the year building camps and enclosures and developing the KWC. It was difficult for me to properly supervise the labour force when Bev required such constant care and attention. Eventually, I had to bring in contractors to complete the work. We are proud of the infrastructure that you can see today and which will last for many years.

Labour Issues:

We think that the Karoo is Paradise – but there are thorns in paradise and our thorn is the old drunkard who we inherited when we bought the property. We have been fighting a running battle with him on top of all the other responsibilities. Dismissal for misconduct was only a first step in a torturous process. Next comes battling to evict him from the staff quarters which he and his family use as their private retirement home. Political issues are raised when a white landowner wishes to evict a black family from his land and the law has been changed to make it well-nigh impossible. Basically, the employer has to provide the dismissed worker with suitable alternative accommodation at his own expense. The process will, I am told by our labour expert, take anything up to 18 months to complete and in the meantime the staff quarters are occupied effectively by squatters.

Animal Rescue:

Birds and animals have begun arriving at the centre even though we cannot obtain permits from provincial conservation authorities to operate the centre. We have tried; we really have. I even employed a consultant to draft the permit application and motivation, and have given the authorities all the information they could reasonably require. But the authorities are not reasonable. Their bureaucracy is patently ridiculous. First, there was an issue over a full rezoning process and when we put our foot down against that, up popped demands for environmental impact assessments.
So we go on functioning without permits, relying on section 3 of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, which protects us against unreasonable or excessive bureaucracy. If we have any trouble from conservation authorities, we will challenge them in court. We have had to fight battles on many fronts this year.


On 15th of August the deed of transfer of the 175 ha Karoo property was finally registered. Bev and I provided about 90% of the funding out of our life savings, but we have registered the property in the name of CACH (Campaign Against Canned Hunting.) The KWC is the headquarters now of the campaign and when I turn my toes up and join Bev in the next world, the CACH team will take over management of the centre, which CACH now owns.

Although our location is remote, modern satellite communications allow us to function with VOIP phone, Skype, email and the Internet. We have had a steady stream of visitors and apart from CACH representatives such as Sarah Dyer from UK  who was here from 24th March to 1st April, we hosted Phil and Trix Wollin on March 12, Donalea Patman from Australia on May 12 and Jill Robinson MBE of Animals Asia on November 1. Other guests included the GoPro for a Cause team from San Francisco.

CACH Work:

On top of all this hectic activity around Bev and the KWC, the work of the campaign has continued relentlessly and I and the CACH team spend many hours every day dealing with campaign issues; educating the media, assisting documentary film makers, giving input to conservation authorities across the globe, proactively persuading the tourism industry to become more responsible and to discourage unethical practices like cub petting. 

Much of the groundwork has already been done to set up the Captive Lion Forum which we have established with the help of the Lion and Safari Park near Johannesburg. We have attracted a lot of heavy hitters to the Forum, including politicians, conservation officials, regulators, lion farmers, cub petting facilities, agricultural economists, wildlife vets; indeed representatives of all stakeholders. The first meeting will be held in January and the purpose of our engagement with all role players is to try to find common ground on two issues:

  •  the ethical treatment of captive lions, and
  •  a timetable for the deconstruction of the lion breeding industry and a ban on canned lion hunting.

Updates on Facebook:

We try to post interesting news weekly on the KWC Facebook page:

Thank You Chris Mercer – CACH and The Team Of Great People Who Care  Passionately About Lions!