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If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The old adage has become a painful reality for speculators who stampeded into the colour-variant game sector. Luring them were rocketing prices being paid at game auctions for colour variants bred in captivity and not found in the wild. Described as “unnatural freaks” by Peter Flack, one of SA’s foremost game experts, colour variants include black impala, white impala, gold wildebeest, white gemsbok and king wildebeest. “Buyers grabbed anything they could at auctions,” says Johan Vorster, a Vleissentraal game auctioneer. The idea was that hunters would pay more to shoot unusually coloured trophy animals. But what the buyers were getting into had all the makings of a classic pyramid scheme: early entrants make big money. Latecomers lose their boots. This is exactly how it played out. By early 2016 prices of colour variants were already sliding. They went on to collapse. It is not that there weren’t warning signs. As early as 2011 the ...

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