Daar was ook jaggeleenthede waaraan duisende van ons lede deelgeneem het. Dit is geweldig bemoedigend om te sien hoe ons lede landswyd deur die jaar en veral nou oor die Kersfeestyd na arm gemeenskappe uitreik en vir hulle voedsel voorberei, nogal met wildsvleis: dames en here, die SAJWV is trots op julle! Dit is dan ook in die tyd wat almal uitsien na ‘n rustyd, ‘n lekker tyd en familietyd wat elkeen van ons iets vir ons medemens kan doen. Ons het almal tog iewers ‘n paar los geldstukkies of ‘n paar los note. Daardie mens wat langs die verkeerslig staan wat ons dikwels so irriteer is ook maar net mens en as ons elkeen net eenkeer oor Kersfeestyd vir een so ‘n persoon, ongeag kleur of geloof, ietsie in die hand kan stop, maak ons die Kersfeesftyd ook vir 40,000 ander mense meer genotvol. Maar ons moet nie vergeet waaroor Kersfees gaan nie; dit is nie die blink liggies, spesiale aanbiedings van kettingwinkels of die alewige Kersfeesliedjies oor ‘n wit Kersfees nie. Dit gaan oor die herdenking van die geboorte van Christus wat twee duisend jaar gelede die grootste omwenteling in die geskiedenis van die mensdom op die aarde veroorsaak het. Dwarsoor die aarde heen, selfs in lande waar die Christendom verban is, gaan ons medemense Kersfees op gepaste wyse gedenk. Kom ons as jagters doen dieselfde.
It is also time for all of us to reflect on our hunting over the past year. Did we hunt responsibly? Did we hunt sustainably? Did we hunt with passion for all creatures of the wilderness? Did we hunt with respect for all our fellow hunters? The world is looking at us and painting us with the same brush as they paint the poachers, lawless hunters and unethical hunters. Our time is up. Our future as hunters is in jeopardy. Our wilderness areas are shrinking by the day. Our children may one day blame us for not having the privilige of seeing a herd of Springbok prancing around the Karoo and for being denied the opportunity to see a proud Kudu bull breaking through the thicket with its massive horns. They may at the time of their coming to age only see wildlife in small camps feeding off dry lucern while wilderness areas will be as small as the parks in overcrowded cities. Only us, as hunters, can make the difference and that decision needs to be taken now. As we cleanse ourselves of our wrongdoings over the Christmas period, so do we need to revert back to the principles of true hunting namely hunting wild animals in their natural habitats in such a way that we will mostly come second to their superior instincts. We owe it to ourselves and to the wildlife that we cherish. We need to elevate ourselves from individuals that are frowned upon to individuals that are welcomed as the heroes of conservation and the sustainable utilisation of wildlife. I long for the day that as the SAHGCA we can proudly say that all South Africans look forward to the hunting season and beg us for the privilige to accompany us on a hunting expedition where we show our fellow man the secrets of the wilderness and the wonders of being a real fair chase hunter. I look forward to the day when the animal rights movements stand up in public and applaud us as members of the SAHGCA for being the custodians of wildlife despite us harvesting a very small percentage of what we conserve. I look forward to the day when our children will be envied by the children of non-hunters for the privilige of experiencing the wilderness and all its amazing life forms. It is our task, it is our destiny, it is our mission.
When you drive to your holiday destination, please stop safely and help the age old Leopard Tortoise to cross the road safely. If you drive around the national parks avoid the dung heaps because the dung beetles are having feast. If you have left over bread leave it on the lawn for the Cape Sparrows because they also have young to feed. God made all living organisms and we often forget that lizard is as important in the cycle of life as the life of a human being.
May all of you experience the grace of God over Christmas and if you of a different religion may God also look kindly down upon you, your family and your friends. After all, we all are subjects of the same Creator even though we have different beliefs. Look upon each other as children of the Earth that were placed here with one mission: to ensure that we conduct ourselves honourable, with pride, with respect to our fellow human beings and with compassion for all the wild creatures. When you look up into the sky at night understand that God is watching over you over this festive season and He commands us all to be good citizens. A group by the name of Enigma has a beautiful song with the following lyrics: “there is an eternal justice and the eyes of truth will always be watching you” – be truthful to yourself and your kin, cherish every moment with them and may you be blessed over this Christmas period.