Rumours are circulating on the Facebook page of Jagters SA (it is not our Association’s page), that SA Hunters during its participation in the colloquium of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs on “Captive Lion Breeding for Hunting in South Africa: Harming or Promoting the Conservation Image of the Country”, discredited hunting and compromised the property rights of game farmers or their rights to farm with game as they see fit,”.

There is no truth in these allegations. In terms of its constitution, SA Hunters has an obligation to protect the long-term interests of its members. The right to hunt free-roaming indigenous wildlife in the future, is part of protecting members’ interests. One can go further and interpret this obligation to include the protection and conservation of the habitat of such species. 

Given the conservation implications and reputational risk associated with the shooting of intensively and selectively bred game, SA Hunters adopted a policy position at its Congress in 2015, stating that it did not support the intensive and selective breeding of game, including predators such as lions. During the Parliamentary colloquium on captive-bred lion in August, SA Hunters communicated this position.

SA Hunters together with various other role-players in the wildlife sector was invited to participate in the Portfolio Committee debate. In a joint presentation SA Hunters and the Custodians of Professional Hunting and Conservation (Custodians) highlighted the positive contribution of hunting to the economy and conservation. 

Furthermore, the principles supported by SA Hunters agree with internationally accepted standards that hunting should be sustainable and should contribute to conservation and sustainable socio-economic development.

At this meeting, SA Hunters referred to the policy positions of global hunting organisations that are also opposed to the shooting of captive-bred lions. These organisations expressed their views emphatically at international forums. They include outfitters and professional hunting organisations from Botswana, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa (CPHC), Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

This group that supports responsible hunting comprised the most prominent hunting organisations in Europe and the USA, together with organisations such as CIC (International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation) that represents hunters from 86 countries; DSC (Dallas Safari Club) with more than 6000 international members; and the SCI (Safari Club International) that represents more than 55 000 members. Each of these organisations condemns the shooting of captive-bred lion, and not only canned lion hunting.

The reasons given by the international hunting community for their views on the hunting of captive-bred lion, include that it does not represent fair chase; does not contribute to the conservation of wild lion populations; and that it adds to the growing negative perception of hunting and hunters at a time when hunting is under enormous pressure worldwide. 

At the Parliamentary colloquium, CIC’s Africa representative indicated that captive breeding of lion for the purposes of hunting and/or the export of lion bones was detrimental to the good reputation that South Africa’s wildlife sector had gained in the field of conservation that it had earnt over years. He cautioned the government not to ignore these views. 

Current and potential negative implications of ill-conceived decisions based on emotional perceptions fueled by animal rights pressure groups, i.e. unfounded trade restrictions on hunting trophies and hunting bans, were also raised at the Colloquium and were backed up by statistics on the impact of trophy exports from Botswana, Tanzania and South Africa. 

SA Hunters is known for not making emotional decisions. It prefers to investigate all the relevant aspects and the short- and long-term implications affecting members and the wildlife sector. True to our reputation as leaders in the field of responsible sustainable use, the Association did a proper investigation on the potential risks that the shooting of intensively and selectively bred game pose to the reputation of hunters and the hunting industry, as well as RSA as a hunting destination. SA Hunters liaised with local and international conservation and hunting organisations, and with various governments to ensure that our members’ interests are protected. 

SA Hunters provided the Portfolio Committee with a summary of the findings of the study that SA Hunters undertook on the potential implications of the shooting of intensively and selectively bred game. It is available here. SA Hunters also issued a media release last week on this matter. It is available here. Click here for SA Hunters’ policy position adopted in 2015. 

SA Hunters is fully aware of the difficulties that the industry experiences, including the economic and political pressure on the farming sector. As before, SA Hunters will make constructive input on counter-productive and ineffective legislation, and will submit proposals for rational legislative and administrative processes. We will continue to provide factual and fundamental information on the contribution that responsible hunting and wildlife ranching make towards conservation, food security and socio-economical development. When and as required, the Association will not hesitate to allocate funds to protect and promote our members’ interest at relevant local and international level. 

SA Hunters finds it disgraceful that individuals with bad intentions selectively used information from the study report, media release or presentations made by SA Hunters and combined it with their own views and reproduced it as SA Hunters’ views. We condemn such despicable behaviour.

Please read the full research report and compare it with the conclusions made. Do not allow headlines to detract from the facts. It does not contribute to constructive debate.

Kind regards

Fred Camphor

CEO: SA Hunters