Extract of the PHASA Conservation & Empowerment Fund Chairman’s report
delivered by Hermann Meyeridricks at the November 2011 AGM
The PHASA Conservation and Empowerment Fund again achieved considerable success in 2011. Income generated from traditional sources remained stable, new sources generated most needed income and a number of important projects were funded. The Wildlife Heritage Gala Banquet was a success yet again. The Board made excellent progress with corporate governance and financial management measures.
Macro-economic trends continue to place strain on the Fund’s income. Growth in global markets remains uncertain, particularly in light of developments in Europe. As such, the market for hunting safaris remains soft overall. Member support for the fund improved somewhat, but remains at unsatisfactory levels.
2. OUR FUTURE
In 2010 I reported that the current political, socio-economic, regulatory and public relations environment presents extremely complex challenges to our industry. These challenges are increasing in number and complexity. Allow me to touch on only two of these.
Firstly, South Africa’s wilderness areas, and therefore also our hunting grounds, face many challenges. The future health of our industry is, in my opinion, inextricably linked to these challenges. It will be imperative to find a healthy balance between the aspirations of government, rural communities, business, fellow private sector conservationists, investors, landowners and our industry.
Secondly, rhino populations are suffering heavily under the scourge of poaching and illegal hunting. Legal and bona fide rhino trophy hunting is under threat. This is a situation that neither the rhino population nor our industry can afford.
I have no doubt that PHASA will continue to be part of the dialogue and the plans of action in these and other matters.
3. CONSERVATION LEVIES
Based on tax-related advice from our auditors, the Board resolved to discontinue the term “Conservation Levy” and instead adopted the term “Voluntary Conservation Contribution”.
I am happy to report that receipts for the year are up by 115%, despite continued economic restraints. This can largely be attributed to the excellent work done by the office in this regard.
The Board and I sincerely thank all outfitters who collected and paid over contributions during the year.
The Fund received approximately R200 000 in donations and sponsorships. Stricter financial controls ensured that donations were not unnecessarily applied towards operating costs. I wish to extend our sincere gratitude to our donors and sponsors.
5. NEW SOURCES OF INCOME
The Board continues to seek alternative sources of income for the Fund. The PHASA Wildlife Heritage Gala Banquet was identified as an ideal vehicle to raise such income, yielding in excess of R165 000,00 for the Fund.
The Fund initiated, supported and funded a number of conservation and empowerment projects during the year.
Rhino poaching has reached more alarming levels than ever. Our National Parks, Kruger National Park in particular, suffer heavily. R150 000 was donated to SANParks.
The 2011 PHASA Wildlife Heritage Gala Banquet was again, despite the harsh economic climate, a success. Much needed funding was raised in support of the Southern African Wildlife College and also for utilisation by North West Parks in their conservation programmes. This year saw the 5th edition of this annual event. It was attended by, amongst others, high-ranking government and NGO officials. Over the past 5 years this event has raised in excess of R5.6 million. The Fund can indeed be proud of this achievement.
An amount of R38 000 was contributed towards the release of the film “The South African Conservation Success Story”. This film records the history of wildlife conservation in South Africa in a compelling manner and leaves the viewer with serious food for thought about the future of our wildlife heritage. The film undoubtedly has excellent educational value and will inspire future generations to make sound decisions about the conservation of this heritage.
The Board resolved to create three bursaries for studies in matters relating to professional hunting. Details of these bursaries will be presented later in this meeting.
The Fund is mandated to support PHASA financially and logistically. The Board is of the view that PHASA may, in light of recent policy and legislative developments, face complex legal issues in the future. The Board accordingly resolved to contribute R100 000 to the PHASA Legal Aid Fund.
The Board furthermore resolved, in terms of this mandate, to cover the costs for PHASA CEO Adri Kitshoff to attend an important meeting with SCI in Tucson, Arizona.
The Fund again contributed $5 000 to Conservation Force. The Board continues to have faith in the extraordinary role that this organisation plays in conservation and hunter advocacy.
7. CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
The Board continues to look at measures to improve corporate governance and continues to seek advice from its auditors and legal advisors in this regard.
An application to register the Fund as a Public Benefit Organisation, in terms of the Income Tax Act, was submitted and is currently being processed by SARS.
The Board consulted with our attorneys in respect of amendments to our Memorandum and Articles following the mandate given by the members in Annual General Meeting last year. Advice was also sought on the effect of the new Companies Act on the affairs of the Fund. A draft new Memorandum of Incorporation was prepared.
The Board formulated a formal policy to guide the Board and applicants alike in applications for funding. Such a policy was also adopted for the bursaries already mentioned.
8. DIRECTORATE AND MANAGEMENT
Upon conclusion of the voting process at the 2011 AGM there remained two vacancies on the Board. The Board duly appointed Wiaan van der Linde and myself to fill these vacancies.
At the board meeting held in November 2011, I was duly re-elected as chairman and Hans Vermaak vice chairman of the Board.
At present all positions on the Board are filled.
Adri Kitshoff, CEO of PHASA, remains Company Secretary.
9. PUBLIC RELATIONS
Adri again spearheaded the Fund’s public relations efforts.
She appeared in television programmes screened by 50/50 and Kyknet where she promoted the Fund in an informative and professional manner. She was also interviewed on the role of the Fund by a number of newspapers and by the influential Financial Mail.
The already mentioned film “The South African Conservation Success Story” acknowledges the prominent role of PHASA in this “Success Story” on a number of occasions. This film undoubtedly enhances the public profile of PHASA in a very positive manner.
The Gala Banquet again proved to be invaluable from a public relations perspective.
Dr. David Mabunda, Chief Executive of SANParks, personally took receipt of our donation to SANParks at the Gala Banquet. A detailed press release in respect of our donation to SANParks was circulated to our liaisons in the print media.
PHASA President Eduard Katzke, other executive committee members, Adri and Marianna visited PHASA members in the provinces during the year. The role and achievements of the Fund were again conveyed to our members during these visits.
The hunting market remains soft. I therefore anticipate continued strain on Voluntary Conservation Contribution collections during the 2012 financial year. I have no doubt that the incoming Board, together with the office staff, will maintain the sustainability of the Fund.
The Board believes that there is considerable scope to expand the business of the Fund. Board members Nicole da Silva and Dries van Coller did some excellent work in preparing a comprehensive framework for a marketing strategy plan.
Lastly, I believe that thanks to the high calibre of the PHASA staff, on whom we rely so heavily, the future holds well for the Fund.
This year saw the passing of Devlin Carton-Barber, son of our previous chairman Stephen Barber. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Stephen, his family and Devlin’s wife. They are in our thoughts during these difficult times.
My term as chairman concludes after this AGM. I record my thanks and appreciation to the members and my fellow directors for the opportunity and honour to serve on their Board and as chairman.
I also thank my fellow directors, both past and present, for their support and counsel.
To Adri Kitshoff, Marianna Louwrens, Joan Mills, Tersia du Plooy and Nonkie Kunene, thank you for your continued loyalty, hard work and enthusiasm.
I must finally extend my sincere gratitude to those members and donors that unselfishly continue to support the Fund. Without you there would be no Fund.