Following the release of hunting regulations that will come into force next year, the animal welfare group Animal Rights Africa (ARA) has criticised and condemned the government's hunting policies. Of particular concern is the issue of canned hunting.
In a strongly worded reply to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism's (Deat) media statement, Steve Smit, spokesperson for ARA, said that Deat did not consult certain animal rights groups and that " they [Deat] have agreed on legislation that panders to the profitdriven bloodlust of the hunters and [canned animal] breeders".
The ARA statement was released the day after Deat broadcast their media statement. The Deat statement announced that "canned lion hunting will continue to be prohibited in terms of the yet to be promulgated regulations on threatened and/or endangered species". These regulations are due to be officially promulgated in March 2007.
According to DEAT, the regulations "follow a three year period of consultation between government, civil society, wild life industry as well as animal welfare groups and follows from reports and scientific reasoning from a Panel of Experts appointed in January 2005 by minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk."
One of the regulations in the legislation states that in the case of large predators it "specifically prohibits" the "hunting of an animal that is a put and take animal, that is a captive large predator that is released in a property… for the purpose of hunting the animal within a period of six months". The regulation goes on to forbid the hunting of large predators in a controlled environment, tranquillised large predators, and hunting of listed large predators in an area adjacent to a holding facility.
Despite this, ARA has attacked the regulations saying that they do not effectively prohibit immoral hunting practices, particularly the controversial "canned hunting". Smit says that, "The continued breeding of large predators for the hunting industry is not materially affected in any way."
Louise Joubert of Sanwild wildlife sanctuary supported ARA, saying "the process of rehabilitation that large predators must undergo prior to being legally hunted…is insufficient and will not protect these animals from exploitation…Killing these animals will always be ‘canned hunting', no matter what the hunters and the government say."
Stuart Dorrington, president of the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa, was one of the advisors consulted by Deat. He maintains that the regulations are "a big step forward to try and stop the bad practices in the industry." He added, "The hunting industry really does want to come out cleaner and contribute to conservation.
Ultimately what is socially acceptable will come to be. It will happen." He also made the point that if one puts aside the issue of "canned hunting" for a moment, the progress made by these regulations cannot be underestimated. ARA has made clear its intention to sue environmental affairs minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, and the department, in order to prevent the regulations being promulgated next year.