Kruger man fired over animal sales

Fiona Macleod

Douw Grobler, head of the Kruger National Park’s game capture unit, has been fired for the unauthorised sale of animals from the park’s disease-free buffalo breeding project.

An internal disciplinary committee found Grobler guilty of nine charges of misconduct, five of which constituted dismissable offences.

Grobler, a vet with an international reputation for his work in translocating large mammals, faced 13 charges relating to the sale of buffaloes from the breeding project. It was alleged the sales were not only unauthorised, but that some of the animals were sold without checks to ensure they were disease free.

“I am very disappointed and embarrassed about Douw,” says Kruger director David Mabunda. “He was in a league of his own when it came to game capture.”

The Kruger’s breeding project, run in conjunction with Phalaborwa game farmer Koos Bekker, closed down after Grobler was suspended late last month.
The object was to breed about 2 000 disease-free buffaloes for distribution to other national parks, not for sale to the game industry.

Mabunda says he discussed the charges against Grobler with National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka and was advised to conduct an internal inquiry.

Grobler was given until the end of this week to appeal against the committee’s findings. He was not prepared to discuss the case with the Mail & Guardian.

Mabunda says the Kruger’s game capture unit is being run by Marcus Hofmeyer, a young vet who moved from North West Parks to work with Grobler.

l Meanwhile, Mabunda announced this week that 663 jobs in the park will be redundant in terms of a restructuring plan code-named “Operation Prevail”. This will result in a 26% reduction in the park’s human resources bill, one of the contributing factors to its tight financial situation.

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