The Other Side of The Story: TWAS & ADI -> link to Facebook Story
Emoya will respond to each allegation.
Judgement in Limpopo
On Thursday 1 November 2018, Judge AJ Mangena handed out judgement in the matter between Animal Defenders International (ADI) and Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary (Emoya). Twenty-seven delicate and fragile, mostly senior (aged), lions are to be moved from a pristine sanctuary near Vaalwater in the Waterberg to an unknown location after 2 ½ years at Emoya. Savannah Heuser, the founder of Emoya, came to the rescue of the lions in August 2015 after being approached by ADI.
ADI breakdown in relationship with TWAS, Colorado
Having freed 33 lions from zoos and circuses in Peru and Columbia, ADI held the lions in a temporary transit location en route to The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) in Colorado, America. A disagreement between ADI and TWAS led to a breakdown in the relationship and the relocation of the 33 lions was cancelled. ADI found themselves with nowhere to go.
By the time ADI approached Emoya, the lions had been in temporary quarters for two years and time was running out.
Savannah, then 19, fuelled by her compassion for the 33 lions and her deep concern for the predicament they were in, stepped in to provide a solution. The lions would come to Emoya in South Africa. Savannah had, after inheriting a 5,000-hectare property from her late father, decided to dedicate her life and inheritance to helping big cats in need. She had been looking after big cats since the age of 16 and had two tigers and six lions in her care. Savannah is an extraordinary young woman, one of those rare people who have affinity with animals and a fierce determination to protect them and to teach others the wisdom of doing the same.
After hard work, tragedy strikes
After the largest-ever animal airlift operation of its kind, the 33 rescued lions arrived safely at Emoya where roads had been specially graded and enclosures custom built in preparation. The release went well and the lions adjustment was successful. But, within weeks of their arrival, two lions died of botulism having eaten contaminated meat. This was as much a shock to Emoya as it was to ADI. It was found that while lions born in Africa develop an immunity, those born in captivity may not. Dr Caldwell referred to the rescued lions as “virgin” lions. This tragic event never repeated.
A year later, in May 2017, two lions were poached. For the first time, in more than 32 years, the Heuser family experienced violent crime on their property. Security was deployed immediately. Wildlife crime is big business run by dangerous international networks that traffic wildlife and animal parts much like illegal drugs and arms. We don’t know the exact value of illegal wildlife trade (WWF states that estimates run into hundreds of millions of dollars), but what we do know is that it is having a devastating effect on wildlife populations around the world.
Two more lion losses at Emoya NOT a case of neglect
No poaching incidents have occurred at Emoya since, but two more lions were lost. In December 2017, a lioness was bitten by her companion. She went into respiratory arrest after she was sedated due to swelling and oedema of the throat area from the bite wounds. The attending vet did CPR, sadly to no avail.
In May 2018, one of the aged lions at Emoya was, after two comfortable years at the sanctuary, euthanised on recommendation of the veterinary surgeon because of age-related disease and discomfort.
These incidents were the result of circumstance and not neglect, as has been falsely sensationalised. Feeding, health and security protocols at Emoya are considered by independent sanctuary experts to be best practice.
The truth is this: Despite unforeseen tragic events, the lions have been and are in excellent condition. They live in the natural Africa habitat, in bushveld enclosures of 1 to 3 hectares, and in peaceful, unspoiled surroundings. Emoya is not open to the public and carefully limits the number of volunteers. The lions are fed an ideal diet of venison with added supplements particular to each lion, and the sanctuary has world class security. Savannah is in almost daily contact with Old Chapel Clinic or Dr Caldwell to report or discuss any changes in the lions, which she does promptly and no matter how minor these changes seem.
ADI’s shocking demands
In October 2017, the Heuser family was shocked when ADI moved to sue Emoya, citing exorbitant and ruthless terms. ADI demanded the return of the lions as well as all ‘out of pocket’ expenses amounting to more than R6 million, including the initial costs of bringing the lions to South Africa, the cost of building the enclosures, and all costs of maintaining the lions from their arrival at Emoya to date (including, but not limited to, meat, supplements, veterinary care and security), also demanding that the enclosures be pulled down. Further, ADI demanded land in lieu of payment should Emoya not have the money to meet these demands.
ADI’s demands could not be countenanced. It would have meant the demise of Emoya, the other big cats and animals in Emoya’s care, Savannah’s inheritance and her dreams. Emoya reached out to negotiate an agreement that would see both organisations continuing with their important work and the lions having the best outcome, however, ADI refused to meet for this purpose.
This has become a story of two powerful women at war with each other. Jan Creamer and Minunette Heuser both have a position to defend: Jan to achieve her dream of having her own sanctuary in Africa and ADI’s sustainability; Minunette to protect Emoya, her daughter and her daughter’s inheritance. But this drama could have been avoided if Jan had agreed to meet with Minunette and an independent mediator, as Minunette requested.
Ruling is based on contract clause, not on allegations
Judge Mangena made his ruling based on a 90 day termination clause in the contract, which allows ADI to cancel the agreement. There was no mention of the false allegations made by ADI regarding the treatment of the lions. The lions are to go provided Emoya are satisfied with the moving process, the final location and standard of their new sanctuary.
Facts will be published in due course on our website.
ADI Statements regarding “Associations” with Trophy Hunters … True or False?
TRUE / FALSE
Emoya has associations with trophy hunters.
|Minunette and Savannah Heuser do not have any associations with trophy hunters.|
Definition of association: alliance, consortium, coalition, union, league, guild, syndicate, corporation, federation, confederation, confederacy, conglomerate, cooperative, partnership, amalgamation, merger; body, group, ring, circle, trust, company, organization, affiliation, society, club, band, brotherhood, fraternity, sorority, clique, cartel; consociation, sodality.
Definition trophy hunter: A trophy hunter hunts wild game for recreation. The trophy is the animal or part of the animal kept, and usually displayed, to represent the success of the hunt.
|Heusers & Hunting|
Emoya has trophy hunters and their skinners on the property.
|This statement is partially true. Professional hunters and their employees have delivered culled carcasses to Emoya (2015 – 2016)|
Emoya was mostly self-sustaining from 2013 – 2015. During the latter months of 2015, Emoya purchased culled carcasses from Coert Erasmus. Erasmus is qualified as a professional hunter (PH) and a well-known culler in the Limpopo Province. Erasmus delivered the carcasses to Emoya from time to time. Once or twice his employees accompanied him.
Erasmus also stayed over a few times, assisting with slaughtering and cutting up the carcasses.
Emoya has not procured carcasses from Erasmus as of May 2016.
|Meat Suppliers 2013 – 2018|
ADI Statements regarding Joseph … True or False?
|ADI Statement||TRUE||FALSE||Explanation||Supportive Documentation|
|Emoya denied ADI access to the rescued lions.|
|To date, ADI always had access to the animals.||There is no supportive documentation of the statement made by ADI.|
|Emoya let Joseph get wet and cold and sick.|
|Joseph had access to his solid tent 100% of the time. Dr Caldwell stated in his report: “It has been raining a lot and the ambient temperature has been very cold recently.”||Dr Caldwell Report 2018 03 26|
|Emoya refused ADI access to Joseph.|
|Emoya was amenable to welcome an ADI representative as per the email send to ADI.||ADI Email to Emoya 2018 04 04|
|Emoya refused to accept funds from ADI to build an appropriate shelter.|
|Emoya took action immediately and contructed an indoors facility for Joseph at own cost. No funds were offered to assist Emoya financially.||ADI Email to Emoya 2018 04 04|
|Within weeks he was dead.|
|Joesph recovered satisfactory. On 13 May 2018 Joseph showed severe neurological symptoms. For Joseph’s best care, he was euthanised on recommendation of Dr Caldwell.||Joseph PM Report 2018 07 26|
|The NSPCA visited Emoya and determined that Joseph was in a good condition. The NSPCA advised that if he deteriorated, euthanasia should be considered.||Communication between the NSPCA and Emoya 2018 04 12 – 2018 05 15|