The tactic decided upon was to convince the public that SA lion farmers are conservationists and animal lovers, and they looked for opportunities to convey that message.
SA has experienced severe drought in some parts of the country, and Leeuwspruit Nature Conservancy was hit, with animals including Rhino needing supplementary feeding.
Allison Fitzgerald is the organizer and feed coordinator for the Marloth Wildlife Fund, a volunteer-only NPO which campaigns and raises funds to buy food for wildlife at Marloth’s Leeuspruit nature conservancy near Kruger National Park. She received a phone call from a farmer who said his driver was en-route to Marloth with a bakkie load of feed for the rhino. “At no time did anyone identify themselves as representatives of SAPA or any predator association” Fitzgerald said.
After the feed had been delivered, and the bakkie had departed, she was later astonished to be notified of the claims on the lion farmers’ SAPA website, alleging its members and the Predators association had saved drought-stricken rhinos at Leeuspruit.
Most bizarre was the photoshopping of the SAPA banners and logos on to the delivery vehicle after the event. See photo above.
Fitzgerald reacted strongly, stating on social media:
“We would like to distance ourselves from reports that we are assisted by SAPA (SA Predator Association) At no time did Ian Otto identify himself as having any connection to them. We were contacted by him to say they were bringing 29 bales donated from a Lucerne farmer who had read the story in the Beeld. The vehicle had no sign or identification of SAPA and we strongly deny the report that they claim to have saved the Rhino. It is nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt” Fitzgerald wrote.