In the past, we used to offer FGASA-approved reptile training and handling courses, along with reptile care information. However, circumstances beyond our control led to the discontinuation of some services. A rare virus that infected our collection from a wild-caught specimen caused this. Despite the source’s claim that they had quarantined the specimen and that it had not entered their main collection. The virus destroyed over 90% of our collection in just one month. Unfortunately, the remaining specimens were too advanced in the virus to be treated when the specialists were able to isolate the virus. It was financially impossible to keep snakes again, as it required me to either move or destroy everything.
In December 1997, one of the laborers at a local kennel found a severely burnt Leopard Tortoise named Twiggy. After months of treatment at the Onderstepoort Bird & Exotic Animal Clinic, she was able to come back home. During this time, we obtained a keeping permit and conducted extensive research on tortoise husbandry. However, we were unable to obtain a tortoise-specific rehabilitation permit. Due to the virus and the fact that keeping reptiles was not conducive in a security complex (having given up plot life), especially with snakes. As a result, we withdrew from this activity for a few years.
Currently, we are developing our website with our host, Cubenet, after having had a stagnant website for years. Due to permit restrictions in our area, we now keep exotic, non-AIS (Alien Invasive Species) instead of indigenous species. Even though keeping exotics is not the same as keeping indigenous species. We will provide information via our website and assist with knowledge where possible.
Unfortunately, obtaining permits is not as efficient as it could be, and even volunteering for the removal of problem reptiles requires a permit. This is counterproductive in my opinion. The department should promote and assist individuals who wish to help conserve nature.