Raw Wild Newsletter 

November 2016

To Skin A Cat

Tristan Dickerson who works for Panthera and General Manager Phezulu Safari Park, has a passion for all wildlife and especially Leopards noticed a dramatic drop in the Leopard population on the reserve that he worked in. They found a lot of snares and animal traps placed specifically in Leopard territory.

He decided to do some more research into why these leopards are being targeted. He found out that there is a religious group in Africa that associate wearing Leopard skins with power and nobility. Over the past 10 years this religious group has grown in numbers tremendously which has increased the demand for leopard skins.

A mission to solve this problem was set. They went to visit the religious gatherings to do research and talk to some of the people. People were spending thousands for their leopard skins as it is important to them to have the correct dress for the ceremonial dances and ceremonies. Dickerson noticed that the younger members of the congregation wore poor quality fake fur as they could not afford the real thing. This triggered the idea that if he could create a “fake fur” that looked and felt like the real thing, the people would support it, therefor lowering the demand of leopard skins. Talking to the people he worked out that they did not support the killing of leopards and were also concerned about the low population, although they did not have another option.

The Panthera group funded the process for Dickerson and his partner to travel around South Africa to find a factory that has the complex machinery to design and weave fabric that could hold multiple different colours and shapes, as the natural print of a leopard is not symmetrical or repeated. Unfortunately none of the factories in South Africa could manufacture the design.

                                         (Dickerson inspecting the final fake fur once printed in the factory)

After a trip to China and many factory visits, they found a factory that could manufacture the design they needed, although the first delivery of the stock resulted in disaster as the colouring was off. The pair were back in China soon after, visiting new factories. After many sleepless nights and hours of work the correct “fake fur” was manufactured and delivered to South Africa. The fur was cut and sewed into the style and shape preferred by the church.

                                           (Shembe Church leader who is proudly wearing the new fake fur.)

Dickerson and his team’s hard work paid off, as their fake fur has been a huge success. Dickerson says “It is almost impossible to know if there is a reduction of the number of leopards being poached. What we are watching for is if there is a reduction in the price of real leopard skins at gatherings. This will show a reduction in demand. So far there has not been a reduction in the price but it has stabilised possibly showing an impact from us”.   

The entire process took approximately 4 years from start to finish, the dedication to Africa’s wildlife is a true testament to how special our animals are. With more initiatives like this one, we may be able to win the war against poaching. Thank you to Tristan Dickerson, the Panthera Group and the Peace Park Foundation for your hard work and tireless efforts to save our animals.

If you want to help, click on the link below, visit the Panthera website and donate to the cause.


Kruger National Park Section Ranger and Veterinarian arrested for rhino poaching connection

It is very sad news that yet another Kruger ranger has been arrested for involvement in poaching. 35 year-old Rodney Landela, a Kruger section ranger, together with 44 year-old Kenneth Muchacho, a veterinarian employed by the Department of Agriculture were caught be 2 anti-poaching rangers doing a daily patrol. The anti-poaching rangers heard three gun shots and ran towards the area to investigate. As William Mabasa (Acting Head of Communications, SANParks) reported; “As they approached the scene they saw two men, one in green Ranger uniform and the other one in khaki clothes running towards the direction of a bakkie ( which was parked nearby.  The Rangers called for assistance as they were chasing the said bakkie which was ultimately blocked at some point by another group of Rangers who were also rushing to the area to assist in the chase.  The two suspects were arrested, a fresh white rhino carcass, two horns, a riffle and other poaching equipment were recovered”.


The idea that people who have dedicated their lives to helping animals could be involved in such horrific syndicates crushes the little hope there is for saving our animals. These are the exact people that the public are entrusting to save our endangered species. This reminds me of the common saying “people will do anything for money”.

The guilty people posing a rangers with honour are tarnishing the reputation that true rangers have built over many years of good work with wildlife and conservation. The rangers that made the arrests ultimately were arresting their superior who “taught them everything”, which takes immense courage. These are the rangers that still give us hope that we can still win the fight against poaching. The Raw Wild Team take off their safari hats to the rangers and vets that are doing their best every day to fight against poachers and especially the ones that have the courage to fight against their colleagues.

In light of this we celebrate World Ranger Day which was on the 31 st July. SANParks held a ceremonies across all 19 national parks to recognise the good work that so many have done over this very difficult period. 

Many people have heard of Honorary Rangers, but not many people know exactly what they do. These people are volunteers that give of their time and energy to raising funds ad contribute in working hours for the national parks in South Africa. Some Honorary Rangers help by doing simple tasks like stock take and helping out at the visitor camps, others who are qualified help by giving the SANParks rangers a day or 2 off by taking the visitors on guided walks and game drives. These people have a passion for wildlife and conservation. It was estimated that in 2015 alone, the Honorary Rangers contribution to SANParks in time, duties and donations were valued at R48 million.

Unfortunately only six national parks in South Africa are running at a profit, and the contribution from the government only covers approx. 20% of operational costs. The work that Honorary Rangers do is vital to the success of South Africa’s wildlife conservation.


                                                      Raw Wild’s Clothing Line

Raw Wild is doing what they can to help the fight against poaching. Our clothing collection is now out and the profits from the tank tops will be going to the Anti-Poaching Unit in the Kruger National Park. Check out the new colours in the ladies tank top.

                                                     Raw Wild Photograph of the Month

A close up of a Marshal Eagle. This photograph was taken in the Kruger National Park when we saw a shadow fly over us while driving, we slowed down to inspect and saw this magnificent Eagle on a dead tree right next to the road. We were very lucky to have this sighting to ourselves and got to spend about 10 minutes with it while it scanned the area for prey.  

                                                        By Raw Wild photographer Matthew McCreesh 

July 2016

Canine Distemper hitting our Wild Dog Population  

We have been aware of the virus called canine distemper for a long time but unfortunately there is still no cure. This virus mainly affects dogs and certain species of wildlife, such as raccoons, wolves, foxes and skunks. Common house pets and ferrets are also found to be affected.  

Canine distemper is contagious and is a very serious virus. Unvaccinated young and non-immunized older animals are more susceptible to the disease. Wild animals are rarely vaccinated and left to natural circumstances.  

Unfortunately our Wild Dog population has been hit by this virus, often wiping out entire packs as the virus is spread by air and direct contact. Symptoms of the virus are high fever, watery discharge from the nose and reddened eyes. The virus first attacks the animal’s tonsils and later their respiratory system. Fatigue, vomiting and coughing set in with the final stages of fits, paralyses and attacks of hysteria once the virus has attacked the nervous system.  

The Kruger National Park in South Africa reported a break out that unfortunately took out an entire pack of Wild Dog in May 2016. Fortunately Wild Dog packs rarely interact with each other which means the likely hood of other packs in the park contracting the virus is rare, none the less the park officials are on high alert. SANParks and state veterinarians are discussing possible options to reduce the threat of canine distemper and the possibilities of introducing regular vaccinations in wild parks. Animals in wildlife reserves contract these viruses from feral dogs and pets living in neighbouring villages.  

SANParks, is the body that is responsible for managing most South Africa’s national parks, their policy for disease control states; “It has been acknowledged that these diseases are components of biodiversity and contribute to the natural ecological processes within these systems”. “A number of alien diseases, including bovine tuberculosis and canine distemper, have the potential to seriously affect wildlife populations directly, or may undermine wildlife SANParks Management Plan Policy Framework, 22 July 2006 47 management efforts. The source of these diseases is domestic animals and once within a wildlife population they can be transmitted between individuals with varying morbidity and mortality rates. To protect biodiversity these diseases must be prevented from entering national parks and becoming established within the indigenous animal populations”.  

Read further on the SANParks Policy.  


There is a fine line between leaving nature to itself to ensure that "the wild" is as natural as can be and when to interfere with natural occurrences. The concern is that we have already interfered to such an extent by placing animals in enclosed parks, although parks like the Kruger National Park have so much space that include multiple different ecosystems, we have restricted their movement and natural migrations. Therefore animals are restricted to territorial space and therefore have limited populations. Because of this, how can we not interfere when problems such as canine distemper arise, naturally Wild Dogs would be so widely spread around the African continent that if a few packs did contract the virus, nature would be controlling their populations by itself. Although we have restricted their space and numbers, unfortunately there are so few left we have to protect them. Situations like this put organisations like SANParks in a very difficult situation to keep to their stance of not interfering with nature. 

Leave a comment below and let us know what you think on this topic.

Hope for Horns

23 year old, Daniel Fenton is a game ranger from Ngala Private Game Reserve. In May 2016, Daniel walked from Phinda Private Nature Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal to Botswana Ramatlabama Border gate. Daniel walked a total of 922 km’s for his campaign “Hope for Horns”. On the way Daniel addressed schools and businesses to arise awareness of how dire the poaching situation is in Africa.  

&Beyond sponsored Hope for Horns and together they raised over R100 000 which contributed to the relocation of 100 rhino from South Africa to Botswana. Botswana take poaching extremely seriously and have assigned their army force to protect their wildlife.  


                                                               (Fenton and some supporters on the way)

The fantastic initiative that Fenton and &Beyond have started will hopefully be the start of many more. If you would like to contribute to Hope for Horns use the link below;


Raw Wild’s Clothing Line

Raw Wild is doing what they can to help the fight against poaching. Our clothing collection is now out and the profits from the tank tops will be going to the Anti-Poaching Unit in the Kruger National Park. See our online shop for further information.  


Raw Wild Photograph of the Month

 This photograph of an Impala calf and her mother cautiously watching us while her calf looks on curiously was taken in the Kruger National Park. The innocent look on the calf’s face is the perfect example of the purity of Wildlife.

By Raw Wild photographer Catherine van Eyk 

Guest Photographer Feature of the Month

By Eleni Artemides 

If you would like to be featured in one of Raw Wild's newsletter, join our mailing list and send an image of your choice with a short description to 



To see more follow us Facebook and Instagram.

June 2016

Our first issue is dedicated to the Anti-Poaching Rangers based in the Kruger National Park. Due to the increased level of poaching over the past decade and the high price that Rhino horn and Elephant tusks deliver, the anti-poaching rangers are risking their lives every day they are out in the field. Poachers have become more skilled, heavily armed and well-practiced at killing wild animals in the dark, quietly and as quickly as possible. 

These poachers are becoming "cocky", they are even killing animals as close as 5km's away from Satara camp (the main and one of the largest visitor camps in the Kruger). The last time we had the pleasure of staying at Satara camp was in March this year. We left the camp very early in the morning to make the most of the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the nocturnal animals before they snuck away in their burrows. We were approximately 5km's out of camp and came across a clan of Hyena's feasting off a kill, but we soon realised that they were feeding off a Rhino carcass that had been poached the night before. The Kruger National Park officials were kind enough to move the carcass off the road further into the bush as it was not a sight for sensitive viewers. Some may argue that the carcass should have been left for the visitors to see and let the sight "advertise" how serious the poaching situation is on our continent. With many young children visiting the Kruger National Park over Easter time, I believe they took the right action. After all, we want more and more people to visit our beautiful game reserves and leave with a positive experience so that our travel industry grows and we can keep improving the state of our reserves.    


The rangers above are some of the very brave men and woman who put the animals first every day. I don't believe that any ranger who chose their profession to spend time with and help animals thought that one day they may need to carry weapons and could experience being shot at. These rangers choose to try and make a difference by saving one animal at a time, so that hopefully our grandchildren and maybe even great grandchildren will get the chance to experience the goose bumps that you get when a Rhino walks past the car and you truly realise its formidable size and strength. 

Raw Wild are doing their bit to help fight poaching. We will be launching "fight against poaching" t-shirts over the next 2 months. 50% of the profits will go towards these ranger's efforts to help them fight against poachers and make every day safer for the animals in the Kruger National Park. Keep a look out for the launch and you can do your bit too to help these Rangers.    

Raw Wild Photograph of the Month

This photograph of a beautiful Lioness was taken on the S100 in the Kruger National Park, March 2016. This Lioness was with part of her pride, one male and two other females when we came across her, they had left the younger members of the pride with a carcass they had brought down during the evening.


 by Raw Wild photographer Matthew McCreesh


Photographer Feature of the Month

The photo was taken early one morning driving through Hluhluwe Game Reserve. It was not the greatest of sightseeing mornings as it was very dry and most of the animals were in the rough, thick bush. We were just about to turn back when we heard a rumbling through the bush next to us and within a few minutes a heard of Elephants appeared. They seemed determined to cross the river that was between us and the gate and, following the path of least resistance, crossed right in front of us. The Matriarch was fully aware of us and made sure every elephant of her herd had crossed the bridge. The photo is of the Matriarch and her calf, the last two to cross the bridge before vanishing back into the bush.

By Dennis Calldo 

If you would like to be featured in one of Raw Wild's newsletter, join our mailing list and send an image of your choice with a short description to 


To see more follow us Facebook and Instagram.

Leave us a comment and subscribe to our newsletter!

Pat Van Eyk
06/03/2016 12:36:19 AM
So impressive, love the news letter xx
Catherine van Eyk
05/27/2016 08:08:31 AM
Hi there, love the website. Great gallery!