The South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SAHGCA) only supports hunting of wild animals in their natural state and in their natural habitat. SAHGCA members are diametrically opposed to the intensive and selective breeding of game animals of all species solely for hunting purposes as it is incompatible with the definition of hunting.
Efforts to justify the intensive breeding of any species for hunting purposes are none other than defending unacceptable practices. Such practices have already tainted the country’s image as a hunting destination. South Africa’s neighbouring countries capitalise on our poor image and lure overseas hunters with a promise of free roaming game to be hunted in real safari fashion. This has a negative impact on local game ranchers that still offer safari style hunting according to responsible hunting principles.
Although eco-tourism and hunting on extensive areas (that far exceed the area under formal protection) in Africa play a major role in conservation and rural economies, it is time for hunters to do introspection. Not only is the reputation of hunting at risk, but also the reputation of the country that is supposed to be a leader in the field of conservation. Irresponsible hunting practices, luring of game animals from reserves into hunting areas, put and take practices and intensive breeding of game animals for hunting do not bode well for the future of hunting.
Members of the SAHGCA have grave concerns about the negative biodiversity impacts of these practices and call on government to fulfil their constitutional obligations as Trustee of our wildlife heritage. It must ensure that while promoting justifiable socio-economic development, the environment is protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent ecological degradation, promote conservation and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources. In this, incentives should be developed for extensive game farmers that not only contribute to the economy, but that also make a huge contribution to South Africa reaching its conservation targets.
SAHGCA also calls on hunters, professional hunters and outfitters to uphold the principles of responsible hunting. It is impossible to defend hunting in the wake of recent events in the hunting arena that shook the world. We make no distinction between ungulates and predators in this regard. Should we hope to sustain hunting for the foreseeable future, hunters need to refocus their practices on responsible hunting of wild animals in their natural state. The fact that we still have many game ranches and reserves with free roaming game animals is part of South Africa’s competitive advantage as a tourism and hunting destination. However, irresponsible practices negate the positive aspects of our extensive game areas.
Responsible hunters want free roaming game animals. Such animals offer hunting in its best form as well as a healthy protein source that is free from remedies that are a necessity in livestock production. Game meat produced in agricultural type production systems where remedies are required to address increased parasite loads associated with small enclosures, detracts from the benefits consumers have already associated with free ranging, healthy game meat. SAHGCA believes there is a huge potential to grow the game meat market, but it should be labelled and certified as free ranging.
For more information please contact SAHGCA President Dr Gerhard Verdoorn on 082 446 8946.