In a change of policy after earlier turning its back on the breeding and hunting of captive lions, the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA) has now approved such practices. During their annual general meeting on 22 November, members voted to approve “the hunting of captive bred lions as a legitimate form of hunting”.
This follows the decision by PHASA in November 2015 to distance itself from canned lion hunting, following a call by the then president Hermann Meyeridricks for a review of the practice after he had viewed the film Blood Lions.
The captive breeding of lions has led to several lucrative and morally questionable industries – including the petting of lion cubs by tourists, tourist walking with adolescent lion, voluntourists caring for such lion cubs and adolescent lions, canned lion hunting and the lion bone trade. The captive bred lions progress through these phases of exploitation, generating significant amounts of revenue, before being killed and the bones sold. This industry often trades under the guise of some form of conservation message, including the false claim that the lions are being bred for release back into the wild.
PHASA’s decision has resulted in widespread anger in the broader hunting industry, with other member associations and prominent members of Phasa publicly distancing themselves.
In reaction, the Operators and Professional Hunting Associations of Africa (OPHAA) has terminated PHASA’s membership with immediate effect, stating “PHASA’s actions completely disregard one of the fundamental concepts of hunting, namely fair-chase, and will, without doubt, jeopardise not only conservation efforts, but also the livelihoods of those who rely on well-managed and ethical hunting practices, far beyond the borders of South Africa. As a result, the majority of OPHAA members have voted to indefinitely suspend PHASA’s membership in OPHAA until further notice”.
The Namibian Professional Hunting Association president Danene van Der Westhuyzen publicly criticised PHASA’s decision on their Facebook page, saying it was ‘shocked and deeply disappointed that PHASA has decided to take the low road by amending its constitution to include a bland and superficial definition of the word ‘ethical’ that now leaves the door wide open to abuse and exploitation by those who clearly have no concern for the future of hunting in Africa, or around the world.”
A number of high profile PHASA members have come out on social media to publicly criticise PHASA, including former president Stuart Dorrington, whose reaction is being widely circulated on Facebook:
“We, as a concerned group of professional hunters, distance ourselves completely from such acceptance and no longer view PHASA as the legitimate mouthpiece for professional hunting in South Africa. A new association will be formed in the very near future and will once again reflect the traditions of responsible, ethical and conservation based hunting in South Africa.”
Traveller24.com quoted Ian Michler of Blood Lions as saying. “Their stance is a combination of ludicrously archaic thinking that seems to have no ethical or ecological grounding, as well as pure greed. We expect this group to continue with their attempts to justify intensive breeding and killing”.