Wild Frontiers

South African government and US hunters plot future of wildlife

Written by: Don Pinnock for Conservation Action Trust

American hunters and South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) are meeting behind closed doors at a resort near Polokwane today to plan the future of South Africa’s wildlife. The four-day conference entitled “The African Wildlife Consultative Forum”, is being run jointly by the DEA and Safari Club International, America’s biggest and most influential hunting fraternity.

©Michael Lorentz, Conservation Action Trust

©Michael Lorentz, Conservation Action Trust

The African Wildlife Consultative Forum will take place from 8-12 November 2015 and is clearly aimed at building an African pro-hunting lobby at the forthcoming meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) scheduled to be in Johannesburg next year.

There seems to be doubt, if not quiet deception, about who exactly is invited to the conference. The African Wildlife Consultative Forum is an offshoot of Safari Club International but NGOs requesting access were emailed by DEA deputy director Mpho Tjiane saying, “this is a government meeting and is not open to the general public.”

Journalists requesting accreditation have been told that attendance is by invitation only and they’re not invited. There is no indication that deliberations will be made public.

“It is of grave concern that issues of this nature and importance are discussed at closed meetings with what appears to be predominantly pro-hunting representation,” said Karen Trendler of the NGO, Working Wild. “Many conservation and response organisations will be affected by the various issues being discussed, as will broader South Africa, and it would be preferable to have wider representation.”

Ian Michler, who produced the film Blood Lions, questioned why a foreign a hunting club was playing such a significant role in deliberations about the sustainability of wildlife in Africa. “The agenda is clearly not only pro-hunting, but also seeks to raise doubts about the value of photo-tourism against hunting. It also appears to support those wishing to overturn the CITES ban on trade in rhino horn. Given the non-transparent nature of the conference, it’s hard not to infer a conspiracy between hunters and governments in proposals that will be presented to CITES in the public’s name.”

©Michael Lorentz, Conservation Action Trust

©Michael Lorentz, Conservation Action Trust

The first session kicked off with an address by professional hunting associations and presentations included issues around the trade of ivory and rhino horn, the role of sport hunting, the Vietnamese demand for rhino horn, import/export permits, the breeding of colour morphs for hunting and the value of hunting as opposed to photo-tourism.

DEA moderators are being assisted in every session by George Pangeti, an official of Safari Club International who was head of administration in the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management in Zimbabwe.

His online biography makes it clear that the African Wildlife Consultative Forum was created by Safari Club International to, “discuss issues of sustainable wildlife management, sport hunting and benefit flow” in Africa. It was also tasked to lobby CITES “in support of sustainable use, especially sport hunting, and trade in wildlife products.”

Following the recent death of Cecil the lion and a huge tusker in Zimbabwe, trophy hunting has come under considerable pressure from governments and conservation organisations. Questions have been raised about whether trophy hunters are protectors of biodiversity, as they claim, providing funds and a reason to protect wild areas, or whether they are simply killers of wild animals?

Safari Club International has a large and wealthy membership keen to counter negative publicity about trophy hunting. The agenda at the Polokwane meeting makes it clear that they aim to convince African delegates to support trophy hunting and act as a bulwark against growing distaste among members of CITES.

The South African government’s enthusiastic support for this line of thinking, despite scientific studies, show that little money from hunting goes to communities, and that killing the biggest and fittest animals is of concern to many involved in genuine conservation.

©Francis Garrard, Conservation Action Trust

©Francis Garrard, Conservation Action Trust

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  • Kathryn Baker

    I wouldn’t give you a nickel for any member of a “safari club”. These secret and private meetings are nothing but coercion to continue the killing of wildlife and the selling of body parts. I am ashamed that U.S. hunters continue to participate in this blood sport. I do not buy their line about helping to conserve by killing. Ridiculous. There should be no private meetings on a subject this important to the future of wildlife in Africa. They keep telling the people that there is so much money to be made in killing. Well, there is plenty of money to be made and jobs created by using the fabulous treasure that is Africa’s wildlife to entertain tourists and educate the younger generation.

    • Pauline Hodson

      No and neither do we in England. these hunters Get Off on Murder. behind their smiling face over the dead body is a dark twisted cruel mind

      • Kathryn Baker

        Yes Pauline, I agree. There is something wrong with a person who enjoys seeing the life drain out of a living being. Unless an animal is charging and attacking, there is no excuse for killing. If enough people speak out and show their disgust for these types, maybe they will see the light.

  • Mary

    Hunters, don’t leave home without testing your gun on yourselves first, thanks.

    • VL123

      ohh…nice lefty snark comment.

      • Rafiki

        Oh .. nice completely useless dimbo comment…
        Funny how no one would dare hold a referendum on trophy hunting ( too democratic of course)
        Because around the world it would be the death of the pshycopaths fun to kill.

    • Graham Stapleton

      Brilliant chirp! Well done

  • Nigel Miller

    If the South African government were meeting behind closed doors with hunting organisations from China or Vietnam then I’m reasonably sure there would be outrage.

    • Schroederville

      There is outrage against this, too! Believe me!

  • Terrence

    Sad to say that this article and Conservation Action Trust is no better than Safari Club International. What happened to objective journalism? Report the facts, not your opinion. The job of journalists is not to sway opinion one way or the other but to get folks thinking about the subject matter at hand.

    • Deputydog

      Please let us in on the facts …..

  • Williamhuard

    Safari Club International uses the best PR money can buy. In the States they oppose any and ALL animal welfare legislation. Like the NRA- they use the slippery slope argument to block any protections for ANY animal….Remember- they are sleazy canned hunters. When you question their lack of ethics and their support for wildlife breeding programs in Africa they get very nervous….To illustrate my point- ask Safari Club why they welcome any and ALL canned trophies in their record books. “First for hunters.”

    When Bloodlions came out the SA Hunting Assoc put out a press release stating that

    they knew canned hunting was damaging the image of hunters and hunting in Africa….

    The next week- SCI gave PHASA a 20,000 grant to combat the negative PR attack from “anti-hunters!”

    I offer this article from Craig Packer – one of the foremost experts on LIONS in the world……

    Read.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150916-book-talk-simon-worrall-craig-packer-lions-serengeti-tanzania-trophy-hunting-africa-conservation/

  • Williamhuard

    This is the nature of trophy hunting.
    Conservation is a bumper sticker talking point designed to ensure that these vampires have access to huntable trophies. They could care less about conservation.

    How do researchers and conservationists like yourself cope with the dilemma of accepting funds from NGOs like the Dallas Safari Club or other trophy hunting organizations?

    At one point, I was working quite closely with the hunting industry under the assumption that they were willing to improve their hunting strategies. But as time went on, it became apparent that they weren’t interested in having much oversight of their activities or allowing anyone to measure what was going on.

    In the initial phase, I did accept small sums of money, which I dedicated entirely to work related to hunting. But as it became apparent that they weren’t making good on their own promises to conserve lions, I made my concerns vocal. So they stopped offering me funding, which was fine, because I wouldn’t have accepted. It was clear they were mostly looking for window dressing to make them look good—rather than to actually do good.

    • Kathryn Baker

      They are scum. enjoyment of killing defenseless beings who are unaware of what is going to happen is disgusting. Bravo for turning your back on them.

  • Williamhuard

    Cecil the lion from Zimbabwe was not the first victim of unregulated illegal sport hunting.

    We always hear the sport hunter apologists talk about “well managed” “well regulated” sport trophy hunting… Where does that exist?
    No one has come forward to take responsibility for the death of Big John from Zambia.

    https://africageographic.com/blog/one-lions-life-a-lesson-about-hunting/

  • caroline hope

    To me there is no difference between poachers and hunters except that perhaps the poachers are poor and trying to make a living. They both disgust me and if South Africa isn’t careful, they will drive away the wildlife seekers wanting to go and experience the wildlife. Why has an American company got anything to do with what the government decides, corruption at its best i’d say. Makes me sick.

  • Pauline Hodson

    South Africa and Safari Club International ! well no rocket science there. How much for Killing So many of your Wildlife. Well S.A. Just Remember your TOURISM TRADE. They will not like this. NO HUNTING IN SOUTH AFRICA. their Cover is conservation. they are in face just psycopaths wanting murder . the World is Watcing and we know SCI are bastards

  • Rosie St Lam

    The South African Government are a laughing stock, seems that the rest of the world (apart from sick hunters from anywhere) are trying to conserve their wildlife, yet they are intent on giving it away to line their own pockets. Mandela must be turning in his grave.

  • Pauline Hodson

    South Africa Govn & US hunters plot future of Wildlife!! Anyone who didn’t even know the ‘history’ would think this doesn’t make sense. I just hope they’re not the only ones round the Table. The World has changed since Cecil, being the last straw ! We’ve had Enough of these psycopaths getting their thrills from Killing animals – and boasting about it fgs. We’ve had Enough of listening to hunters plead they’re conservationists. We’ve seen their Murders. We’ve seen their Destruction of Wildlife. We’ve seen how they’ve grown these Canned Hunting Farms and Safari Companies – under our Very Noses – because no-one could Ever Imagine how Far they would go to get their Needs met. TURNING AROUND and GOING BACK.. Nothing Less than Ban Hunting. Close Down the Canned Hunting Farms and Safari Companies. The World is looking for South Africa to Appreciate and Respect its Wildlife for future generations and to Work with True Conservationists and True Wildlife Tourism. Hunters have NO place in these negotiations. Your future is Wildlife Tourism where people want to come and experience Africa’s history and wildlife – in the spiritual sense – where No Animal is Killed. We’ve seen all the HORRORS – it MUST STOP.
    England.

    • Schroederville

      INDEED, Pauline! It is horrors, nothing but horrors and it has to END NOW! Thinking compassionate forward minded people all over the world demand it! BAN TROPHY HUNTING NOW!

  • Deputydog

    So much for transparent government! Having said that, is this really a suprise – it is just more of what we have come to expect. Coming so soon after all the media outcry about hunting this just highlights the brass neck of a Govenment based on greed and self interest.

  • Schroederville

    SHAMEFUL! This meeting should NOT have been conducted behind closed doors where the SCI could pay off whoever they wanted to with their blood money! The SCI is nothing but a rich white boy MURDERING CLUB! They need to be stopped! #BanTrophyHunting NOW!

  • Rafiki

    Ah the wonders of Government in SA these days and meeting with the international animal killing pshycopaths club of Dallas ? A meeting not so much of conservation more a meeting of how big are the brown envelopes and how much do you want to kill? More like..
    Less than 3% of all money spent on hunting ever finds its way back to the local community, its just pocketed by the purveyors of animal butchery and of course the odd ‘commission’ to some low life.
    The idea that you Kill an animal to hang its head on a wall just for bragging rights to like minded small manhood friends is akin to destroying a Mercedes top model car just to own the wing mirrors..
    Carry on SA government….your name is already world wide on social media for what your allowing and slowly word is spreading
    Maybe sorting out the pathetic lack of constant electricity to your people should be a bigger importance than deals with devils behind closed doors!
    Let’s see how long this stays up…..

  • Willem Frost

    This is a very poor and one-sided article – typical of Africa Geographic. Anti-hunters never invite the hunting community to any of their meetings with any government, but now they complain. But I suppose double standards are the norm in the post-modern society.
    In any event, if I look at the garbage comments on this blog I can understand that the antis are excluded. You have nothing to contribute other than insults and sentimental delusions. For starters, can any of you anti-hunters provide me with an intelligent and convincing rationale for your opposition to hunting? Give me your best formulated case, not just a lot of sentimental nonsense.

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