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ANIMAL REAL ESTATETurning Words into ActionLara Mostert – Monkeyland A primate sanctuary on South Africa’s Southern Cape Coast has decided to hand its land over to the monkeys, lemurs, langurs, and gibbons in its care. And it’s hoping that others will follow suit.Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary – a no-touch, free-range facility on 21.8 hectares of indigenous forest near Plettenberg Bay – was established to provide rescued animals that cannot be released into the wild with living space that’s as similar as possible to those in their natural environments.Worried that the future may not be as bright as it is now for the animals in their care – especially after they’ve gone – the managers of the sanctuary have come up with the novel idea of giving the animals title to their own land. And it seems this has never been tried before, anywhere in the world.“Animal rights are entrenched in many countries, but rights aren’t the same as ownership, which in many ways permanently secures protection for those rights,” said Monkeyland’s CEO, Tony Blignaut. “Therefore, we’ve decided to buy the land on behalf of the primates, with our NPO, the South African Animal Sanctuaries Alliance (SAASA) holding it in trust for them through a legal ‘per proxima amici’ (by or through a friend) arrangement, and with specific conditions built into the property’s Title Deeds. “This will mean that this forest can never be taken away from its residents,” he said. SQUARE METERS Monkeyland is financing this novel approach through a crowdfunding campaign – it’s urging its guests and supporters to ‘Buy a Square Meter for the Monkeys.’ But, with 216,000 square meters on offer, that’s quite a big ask.“We aren’t frightened by the size of the challenge, though,” said Tony. “The price of a meter is very reasonable – they’re only $5 (or R90) each – and most people buy more than one square at a time. And, with SAASA being a registered Public Benefit Organisation, donations are tax deductible in South Africa, which makes the whole deal attractive for individuals as well as for corporate buyers.”
The sales are also boosted by building donations for square meters into visitor packages like the Wacky Wildlife special, which includes entry to three SAASA facilities – Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, and Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary – and a ticket for a whale- and dolphin-watching cruise with Ocean Blue Adventures in Plettenberg Bay, complements of the Orca Foundation. This means that the cost of these packages can be tax-deductible, too.PILOT PROJECT Tony said that he sees the Square Meters for Monkeys idea as a pilot project, and that he’s hoping to initiate similar projects for the other sanctuaries in the SAASA stable.