Animal Rights Africa
(ARA) has just released a key report which takes an in-depth look at hunting
activities in South Africa. The Report is available online:
Africa has the largest hunting industry in sub-Saharan Africa. It is Africa’s
most popular destination for foreigners wishing to kill anything from elephants
to duikers. South Africa also has a large domestic recreational hunting
industry. In addition bushmeat hunting, usually referred to as ‘poaching’,
takes place in many parts of the country.
Africa remains the world’s top ‘canned’ lion hunting destination,
the rhino hunting permit system has been repeatedly abused in recent years
to launder horn into the illegal medicine market in the East and some hunters
are shooting animals which live in the Kruger National Park and cross unfenced
boundaries into private and provincial nature reserves.
1000 lions were killed in 2008 at a time when most people believed the industry
had been stopped. It has not and still continues pending a court appeal.
The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs has no current figures
for the number of lions hunted.
to research by the University Of North West in Potchefstroom, of more than
a million wild animals are killed by hunters every year, some for meat but
some just because they have large horns, tusks, or ‘pretty’
coats. Some, like African wild cats and genets, for example, are killed
simply for fun and target practice. The Government supports this killing,
arguing that hunting in South Africa is in line with concept of ‘sustainable
utilisation of natural resources’. Ethics and scientific justification
appear not to come into it.
hunters themselves argue that quest for increased economic returns and bigger
trophy animals sometimes override what they view as “accepted practice”.
Some private farms are overstocked and also populated with species that
do not occur in the region in order to generate greater hunting income,
hybrid and colour-variant animals are specially bred for hunting despite
the disapproval of formal hunting organisations and in many instances animals
have no chance of escape and are shot under conditions that amount to ‘canned
despite the size of the hunting industry in South Africa it is poorly monitored,
partly because many provincial departments are cash strapped and many experience
skills shortages. The overall picture of what happens in the hunting industry
is further clouded by poor record-keeping at provincial and national government
level. Animals are suffering extensively as a result.
South African National Parks (SANParks) has regularly denied that animals
from the Kruger National Park are shot in provincial and private nature
reserves that share unfenced boundaries with the Kruger, international hunters
boast that they have killed elephant and buffalo which have crossed from
the park. In the past SANParks has claimed that these animals are res nullius
(i.e. they belong to no-one) once they leave the formal Kruger Park area
and enter provincial and private reserves but this argument is irrational
bearing in mind that: SANParks has agreed that the Kruger’s boundary
fences be removed to allow the movement of animals; acknowledges that animals
do indeed move freely between the areas; sits on management committees of
these reserves; and also helps decide the hunting quotas.
ARA spokesperson, Michele Pickover, “SANParks recently acknowledged,
contrary to previous denials, that animals move freely between these areas.
However it refuses to publically acknowledge they may be shot. It is astounding
that South Africa’s precious heritage, in the form of animals that
move across imaginary boundaries from the Kruger National Park (which is
widely regarded as a national asset and one of the jewels of the country’s
conservation programme), are intentionally being allowed to be hunted and
killed for profit with the fervent support and consent of the South African
government and all its conservation agencies. Ordinary South Africans should
be extremely concerned.”
argument here is not whether hunting is legal in South Africa, it is whether
SANParks is fulfilling its mandate to protect animals within National Parks.
Allowing animals to be shot in areas which, as tourist operators, some hunters
and SANParks themselves advertise, are part of an unfenced natural area
which forms the Greater Kruger National Park is, we believe, a contravention
of this mandate and the organisations’ responsibility to the people
of South Africa in terms of the Protected Areas Act, 57 of 2003 (as amended
by Act 31 of 2004), which prohibits certain ‘extractive activities’
in national parks, including hunting.
Government approves of the hunting of animals that cross from Kruger into
provincial and private reserves they should proudly say so publicly –
in other worlds Government must tell South Africa and the world that they
don’t mind if national assets are killed for the enrichment of a few
hunting outfitters and entertainment of a handful of rich foreigners.
and the ethics of allowing it, in South Africa is in urgent need of widespread
public scrutiny, debate and action. Urgently needed are new, ethics-based
approaches to wildlife conservation. However, the way conservation is currently
practiced in South Africa has become part of the problem, not part of the
believes hunting is an incorrect strategy to preserve Africa’s wildlife
heritage and to promote ecotourism. Moreover, humanity has a duty of compassion
and humanity towards animals and also at stake are issues of justice. The
time is overdue for individuals, civil society and governments to recognise
animals as complex, living beings, rather than as tools, objects and trophies.
on our Report, ARA believes that:
entire concept of res nullius in relation to national, and provincial
parks, needs to be scrapped.
should be a national public consultation and review process of the 1996
Agreement signed between the National Parks Board (now SANParks) and
the APNR, including the 1993 removal of the fences between the APNR
and the Kruger National Park.
is an urgent need for a widespread and public debate on the concept
of sustainable utilisation in relation to hunting.
is an urgent need for a comprehensive, transparent and public examination
and investigation of the hunting industry. Should this study be undertaken
the South African public will be appalled at what happens in South Africa’s
bloody and ruthless hunting industry and will call for a speedy end
to a practice which has no place in the modern world. The South African
government should impose a moratorium on hunting until the findings
of this public enquiry have been released.
that it is non-consumptive, ethical wildlife ecotourism which is a sustainable
strategy to protect wildlife while also meeting human needs the government
should be switching more land to photographic use and away from hunting.
conservation agencies (provincially and nationally) must publicly make
available, through websites, up-to-date applications for hunting permits
and hunting statistics.
need to be more proactive in informing themselves about which hunting
and breeding destinations in South Africa are doubling up as ecotourism
destinations and avoid choosing such places.