A split in the ranks as some professional hunters still side for canned lion hunting and the debate continues in South Africa.
“Canned hunting is fake hunting for people who choose their victim on-line, pay a lot of money to execute it and then boast about their ‘achievement’.” These are the words of environmental attorney, Cormac Cullinan, following PHASA’s recent decision to permit the killing of captive-bred lions as a legitimate form of hunting.
On the 22nd of November, members of the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA) voted at their AGM to reverse their policy against the hunting of captive-bred lions.
“There seems to be a continuum between hunting through a chain linked fence and shooting in the wild. Both end in the death of one of the world’s top predators… The fact that the canned hunter’s cousins, those that want to kill in the wild don’t significantly divorce themselves from this practice places all hunting in the same category,” says Dereck Joubert, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and founder of the Big Cats Initiative.
However it’s a move that has seen several hunting operators resign from PHASA and others formally criticising its legitimacy. Stewart Dorrington, who served for three years as president of PHASA, summarised hunters ‘concerns with the decision : “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”
The African Professional Hunter’s Association (APHA) in Tanzania also issued a statement saying they are, “appalled by the decision made at the PHASA to condone the reprehensible practice of captive bred lion hunting,” and that they, “strongly condemn, and vigorously oppose any form of captive bred/canned lion hunting.”
The Operators and Professional Hunting Associations of Africa (OPHAA) are also deeply troubled by the decision and have accordingly indefinitely suspend PHASA’s membership in OPHAA 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.”
It’s not just hunting the lions that is problematic with this industry, but the terrible practices that lead to this awful act. This includes taking away cubs from their mothers at just a few weeks for the cub petting industry, ill management of sub adult lions for walking-with-lion experiences and a shady side-line industry, the laundering of lion bones. “In a canned situation the despicable practice of actual breeding those lions for slaughter is a deeply disturbing indictment of who we are as a species,” says Joubert.
Ian Michler, creator of the film Blood Lions, which played a big part in exposing the vile industry behind canned hunting, says he is deeply concerned by this resolution. “Their stance is a combination of ludicrously archaic thinking that seems to have no ethical or ecological grounding, as well as pure greed,” he says.
Cullinan agrees, “Canned hunting finances an abominable industry based on the confinement and cruel exploitation of magnificent wild animals by unethical people. This decision makes it even more important to step up the pressure to ban canned hunting and the sale of lion bones.”
Contributed by Janine Avery and the Conservation Action Trust
The author is solely responsible for the accuracy of this content.