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Canned lion hunting in South Africa - reaction by the SA press


                                              Bow hunting of lions lives on in South Africa

An article  today appeared in the South African newspaper “Beeld” concerning a video (Warning: graphic animal cruelty) of a bow hunter shooting the young female lion from the back of a vehicle. As the article is in Afrikaans, I have translated some of it here:

“A video showing a young female lion shot with a bow and arrow from the back of a vehicle has set blood boiling among hunters, wildlife breeders, conservationists and animal activists.

A search is on for the bow hunter so he can be questioned.

The people in the video are speaking Afrikaans. They chase the lion back and forth with their vehicle, but she keeps hiding behind a bush. Later, one of the men calls his workers and tells them to chase the lion out from behind the bush with a tractor.

It seems as if the bow hunter shoots the lion twice. It is not clear if the lion is dead after the second shot. 

Adri Kitshoff, chairman of the Professional Hunter’s Association of South Africa (PHASA) branded this as abhorrent and said the practice should be eradicated. PHASA did not want to be associated with it.

During a professional hunt the animals should have a reasonable chance to escape.

Kitshoff said it is unacceptable, unethical, unlawful and cowardly to hunt from the back of a vehicle.

Isabel Wentzel of the National Animal Protection Association sees this as shocking. Canned breeding and hunting of half-tame animals is a flourishing business in South Africa and should be eradicated, she said. 

‘This is a scandalous abuse of our wildlife and a blot on South Africa’s name.’

Professor Pieter Potgieter, chairman of the South African Predator Breeder’s Association (SAPBA) , [referred to as the Lion Breeder’s Association in the article], said his organization also distanced itself from such acts.  According to him it is unlawful to hunt a lion in an enclosure smaller than 1,000 hectares. 

The Lion Breeder’s Association also forbids bow hunting and hunters are not allowed to hunt from the back of a vehicle.”

The comments by the chairman of the Professional Hunter’s Association (PHASA) and the chairman of the South African Predator Breeder’s Association (SAPBA) are interesting to say the least. Perhaps it is an indication of how completely out of touch they are?

South Africa requires a registered member PHASA to be present during all hunts of “dangerous” game. PHASA therefore seems not to have any control over their members, as this is far from the first time that canned lion hunts have been conducted in small enclosures, from the back of vehicles, and with bow and arrow. PHASA members were also present during all “pseudo” hunts of rhinos, including the now infamous cases where Thai prostitutes posed as “hunters”. I would suggest PHASA finds out to what extent members have abused existing rules of the Association and ban them. PHASA has been associated with canned hunting of lions since its inception, and for the chairman to suddenly discover any level of conscience is hardly credible. Also, canned hunting by definition does not allow the animal any means of escape (as they are all in enclosures), so the chairman referring in any way to the concept of “fair chase” can only be roundly ridiculed.

The same level of derision should meet the comments made by the chairman of SAPBA. Lions are regularly hunted in enclosures smaller than 1,000 hectares. Similarly, many South African hunting companies advertise lion bow hunting, and there are literally dozens of pictures and videos on the internet showing bow hunters in action and with their trophies. Also, there are many videos showing “hunters” shooting from the back of vehicles whether using rifles or guns. 

It is unimaginable that these chairmen are talking about morals and ethics and lawful acts when their organizations have long thrived on the absence of application of any of those measures. SAPBA breeds lions for one reason only – to have them killed. And PHASA members have aided, abetted and profited from such activities by their “supervision” of thousands of lion canned hunts (5,892 from 2002-2011). 

I’m happy to see Ms Wentzel of the South African National Animal Protection Association calling the practice reprehensible and a blot on South Africa. Until canned hunting of lions ceases, whether by internal pressure from South Africans or external measures to prohibit the import of all canned hunting trophies (as they all involve animal cruelty), it will remain a blot and a stain on South Africa that will tarnish any hope of being seen as a country concerned with wildlife conservation. South Africa was a pariah nation during the time of Apartheid and cannot afford, as a major destination for nature tourism, to be branded so again though its callous abuse of wildlife. 

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Posted by Pieter Kat at 17:34

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