Sometimes you need a dramatic event like the COVID pandemic to highlight potential threats that have always existed but have lingered under the radar, so to speak.
In our case, which I think is very unique, we have a Proprietary Limited company, granted with like minded conservation oriented shareholders who have put their money where their mouths are time and time again, and as recently as April 2020.
This (Pty) Ltd company owns the property Portion 12 Kirbywood Farm 302 which is 22,8 hectare in extent, and it is on this property that Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary is situated.
The shareholders of the (Pty) Ltd property are with a few exceptions aged between 65 and 90, the high risk group in terms of the pandemic, and all in the later side of their lives. The heirs, who would mainly be the children of the original shareholders, have again with no exceptions, not shown the same interest as their parents in the sanctuary. Many of them have not visited the sanctuary in the last 20 years.
Now with the COVID pandemic all revenue has ceased, while our running costs to feed and care for the animals in our care continues at R600,000+ a month after scaling down where we could.
Clearly the sanctuary could not sustain those costs without any income, and the shareholders of the (Pty) Ltd were approached to provide R5,200,000 to carry the cost of running the sanctuaries and caring and feeding the animals for the next 8 to 9 months, all the original shareholders took up the challenge, only the heirs of previously deceased original shareholders did not take up the challenge, but thankfully the original shareholders paid the short fall of who did not.
That was a sobering exercise, and one wonders what would have happened if the majority of shareholders where heirs and not original shareholders, probably no money would have been raised and there is a good chance that the heirs in a case like that, may have opted to close the “black hole” and sell the property. That would leave the monkeys at Monkeyland without a home, with a bleak and uncertain future; the property is the one essential element of their future that is vulnerable for that reason.
We also have a Non Profit Organisation called SAASA (South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance) which was formed as oversight of the plight of the monkeys and other animals, to be a disconnected party and custodian of the wellbeing of the animals. But SAASA owns no property, so in the event of there being a change of heart in the (Pty) Ltd company shareholders down the line, where they decide to call it a day and dispose of the property, SAASA unfortunately does not have the funds, and will be unlikely to be able to raise that kind of finance in a short period of time if at all.
The existing shareholders of the (Pty) Ltd understanding this risk to the future of the company and the monkeys, have agreed to sell the property to SAASA based on a private mortgage bond, whereby SAASA immediately starts to raise the funds it would require to fund the purchase of the property at current market value as well raising capital for a emergency fund to maintain the sanctuary going forward.
The Trustees of SAASA have decided that the most practical way to meet this challenge will be to open the purchase of the property to like minded citizens of the World in a campaign called “Buy a square meter of forest for the Monkeys”.
To this end, if all the square meters are sold at $5 each, that would provide sufficient capital to pay the (Pty) Ltd company for the property and costs, and leave a realistic emergency fund to cover the costs related to the care and feeding of the animals going forward, should the need arise.