Fences and Lions
Fences and Lions
by Ludolph Swanevelder, National Chair CHASA
The generation who lived in the beginning of the previous century, referred to game as “res nullius” – a Latin legal term which means that game “belongs to nobody”. Since mankind’s numbers have exceeded the 3 billion mark a few decades ago, this principle has become totally unsound when it comes to the successful conservation of wildlife. Game animals have no chance of survival if they belong to nobody. The successful North American model of conservation is based on game being owned collectively by the people, and the said people’s representatives manage the animals. This model also applies to Southern Africa’s national parks.
The South African model, responsible for the most successful conservation story of all times, is based on the principle that game is owned by an individual landowner. Seventy percent of all game animals in South Africa are owned by ranchers and this success story is based on the necessity of fencing, enabling the individual to own and manage the animals.
All animals on this planet have borders which restrict their movement. The home range of the majority is restricted by natural topography, or the availability of suitable habitat. Most are surrounded and restricted by human settlements or manmade infrastructure. Fences are just one more border restricting animal movement – but in a world of increasing human numbers, these fences have become an imperative for the survival of game.
The principles of ethical hunting requires that the hunted animal have a fair chance of escape from his pursuer, and further that the animal be located in suitable habitat where it can be self-supporting. The vast majority of South Africa’s fenced game farms comply with these requirements, and we can therefore deduce that the presence of fences is compatible with the principles of ethical hunting. During the last years a practice has developed to “hunt” lion in camps where they have no reasonable chance to escape, and the term ‘canned hunting’ has been coined to describe this practice. Responsible hunters totally reject the shooting of canned lions, and also reject the “hunting” of any other species under similar circumstances.
The scientific approach towards conservation does not make any distinction between indigenous species and does not favor one over the other. Favoritism of ‘celebrity-species’ is the style of animal rights activists – normally with the view of soliciting money form a well meaning but ill informed public. And favoritism is always detrimental to biodiversity. People who are serious about conservation will manage all wild species according to similar principles. The rules on which we manage other game species, must thus also be applied to lion.
When we then reject the shooting of canned lion, we must not overreact and reject all forms of lion hunting. Game conservationists acknowledge that sustainable utilization and game management require fenced areas, and this must also apply to lion. But lion hunts in these areas must be conducted according to ethical norms which comply with the requirements of fair chase, and in suitable habitat where the individual hunted lion is a part of a self-sustaining lion population.
Without the income incentive from responsible hunting of lion, no landowner will make land available for lions, and the conservation of lions will then become the responsibility of SANParks alone. What a tragedy for “Panthera leo”.
Gerhard thank you for a great post.:thumb:
Finally somebody that talk sense,well done Sir, hats off to you.
Great post that's telling it like it is!:nice::agree:
Well done Gerhard. This is a good post a puts things into perspective!
It is the South African model of ownership, and the principle of sustainable utilisation, that has given game value and so ensured their long term survival in an over populated world. Because of this model and principle, the game numbers in South Africa are currently sitting at very healthy levels.
All species are part of the "circle of life" as they say, and they MUST be treated equally in their management, without any favouritism as you correctly state.
As long as we stick to the principles of fair chase, sound management practices and ethical hunting there should be no issue around the hunting of Lion, and the other species which are so easily sensationalised in the media.
I would have to say that I very much doubt that the people opposed to hunting lions in general even took the time of day to conceder what the effect of closing bread lions would have on the wild lions population.
Maybe it would be better if the geenies would take in to account the long term effects to closing lion in South Africa as well as the rest of Africa.
Because I can assure you that as long as there are cattle farmers in Africa be it tribes or commercial farming lions will be killed to protect those people's livelihoods.
You can close hunting of lion in all the country's but animals need to be managed when left alone to breed a species can have a detrimental effect on their own kind not even to mention the habitat and the existence of other species.
I think that the problems Botswana have with Elephant currently might be a prime example.
We as humans should manage wildlife populations since there is not enough land available in Africa to just leave wildlife populations as they were 1000's of years ago
The simple fact is that land development is growing and unless we can generate some value out of animals there would not be the money for conserving their natural habitats as well as fund to hire the people to protect and monitor their population.:)
...Nice posts there Gerhard & Louis! I think you guys hit the nail on the head! Great insight on a very controversial subject!
Well said. Although hunting lion behind a fence is not for me, it is a great conservation tool for the future.
Great topic Gerhard however I have one question that I have always struggled with. What qualifies a fenced area being large enough to be considered fair chase and self sustaining...is it 100, 1000, or 10,000 acres? I 100% agree with everything you said and understand that it would be impossible to preserve South Africa wildlife and hunting without taking these measures. Spending my entire life hunting North America makes it hard for me to put this into prespective and some insight on this would be helpful.
The SA model of enclosed manged areas could go 1 step forward. An incentive system should be implemented for private landowners to drop their fences with neighbors thereby increasing the traversing area for game, promoting greater biodiversity and exposing corridors for migration.
Unfortunately we have an issue with working in a group and always prefer the DIY system. :confusion2:
Although I am passionate about hunting Africa's Big Game in places like Zimbabwe where they are wild and free and every trophy is earned, I thoroughly enjoy hunting antelope on South Africa's fenced private game reserves. There are many species that are incredibly challenging to hunt even behind wire and then you have the low fence cattle country that is truly wild.
I would have no problem hunting a managed lion population that was allowed to love as freely as as the antelope on these fenced reserves.
However what I have seen is different. On one massive property where we hunted plains game for 10 days, they also had a captive breeding program for lion for the purpose of hunting. In 10 days, 6 hunters shot 6 lions.
An animal chosen from a catalogue was released the day before the hunter arrived. The hunt would start early in the morning when the PH, client and tracker would drive the roads in a 5000 acre enclosure to the place where the lion was dropped off; there was a bit of theatre in coming across the fresh spoor. The hunters would then follow up the lion. The shortest hunt was a 150 meter walk. The longest hunt was over by 2pm. Usually the animal was sitting and they showed no fear of the hunters, after all they were being fed chickens the day before. The hunters were all so happy that they had the "luck" to shoot exactly what they were hoping for: colour, size, mane length.
I'm in as soon as I find an outfitter with a genuine hunt in a fenced area. Nothing wrong with guaranteed sighting, but if the only animal I see is the animal I want and I just shoot it, it just doesn't seem fair.
Gerhard a very excellent post !!!
I have always felt that if a hunt is biologicaly sustainable, it should be legal. Personaly, I have no interest in hunting lions behind high fences, but have no problem with others doing so. We in Canada are blessed with millions of acres of public land and sometimes find it hard to understand hunting practises and customs in other lands.
We hunters have many opertunities to define ourselves ethically and the choices we make are very personal. Some practises that I find distastful, others will feel are acceptable. We must remember that the ANTIS find all hunting distastful.
Of coarse non-hunter perception of our actions is another matter.
Just my thoughts, Mike
Lion behind fences
I have taken much abuse on the internet for my "canned lion hunt". Thank you for giving a fair assessment, Gerhard. Yes, I shot a lion behind a high fence....the same high fence that all the rest of the game lived behind.
My lion was not picked from a catalog nor shot in the drop off area after having being released the day before, drugged, or in a 50'X50' enclosure as some people say these hunts are conduted.
My cat had been living off the other wildlife for over 6 mounts and it was NOT a slam dunk hunt. We worked hard for several days. My final stalk was about 4 hours long after once sighting it.
I do not claim that I hunted a free roaming Zim lion. I knew it was captive bred. Several other hunters that had hunted the same lion & went home empty handed.
As Jimmy Buffett says, "Don't try to describe a Kiss concert if you haven't see one".
In my opinion, humble as it may be, I think the whole controversy over Lion hunting in South Africa has been dominated by the bad acts of a few unscrupulous operators mostly going back several years.
s long as there is a "captive breeding program" there will always be some abuses of the system. My preferred PH has told me hat 95% of his business is from American hunters and by and large, American hunters have all to often become lazy hunters. That is not to say all Americans are lazy hunters, just to say that are too many area. It is that group that is likely to shoot the lion just released of in a small enclosure. But, if the hunter had the money and desire, if it supports lion conservation, I think it should be offered. To each his/her own. hey do no harm to the lion populations of sub-Saharan Africa an generate significant economic resources in a Country that desperately needs it.
I am hunting Lion this year in RSA. I looked long and hard for the right opportunity. The lion hunt I will be on is on an enormous tract of land in the far North bordering Botswana. The lion there live in prides and there is a spectrum of ages to he huntable population. I am targeting a post breeding age full manned male - a cat of 8-10 years of age. Is there a fence on the land. Yes, in places. Are we hunting inside? No.
If you look hard and are willing to truly hunt self sustained free roaming lions in RSA, there are opportunities to do it. First, you need to look hard for the right opportunity for you, the hunter. Second, you need to be clear with your PH what type of hunt you are looking or. Third, you ned to be at piece with your own decisions about the style and type of hunt you want.
I do not want a lion in an enclosure it cannot escape. At the same time, I do not want to hunt a lion feeding on a bait (which is illegal in RSA). Most other countries where lion are hunted are typically (not all) done over bait. It is a ethical splitting of hairs to say one form of hunting is better, worse, or more ethical than the other.
For me, it is track and stalk with a very real possibility that we will not find the right lion, make a good stalk, and harvest the lion of my dreams on my terms.
What bothers me most is that simply by saying I am hunting Lion in RSA, people assume its not "real" lion hunting. A lion with its primal instincts in tact at less than 50 paces is "real hunting" by any measure I can think of. I have no doubt that lion can cover that distance before I can cycle my bolt action more than once. So its a one and down, either way, type of hunt. That is real hunting.
This is another of hos cases where the majority of PHs and hunters are operating in the spirit of a true African experience, necessarily modified by the growth of human population. If its betwen that and no lion at all - I fail to see the argument of no lions at all.
What dos bother me is a captive bred and feed lion being released into a small enclosure as a target. But none, even under existing RSA law, that is not legal. The law is being broken when that is done and by definition it is not a truly earned lion. That is about the same as shooting record class whitetail out the window in the middle of the hunt during the hunting season. Yeh, they got part of it right, it was in season, but nothing else was legal about it so it not an earned trophy.
Game management and preservation rules are set for good reason. If you hunt by the rules of fair chase, you earn your trophy. Cheat, and you are not a hunter but a cheater, and the debate should not be about the style of the hunt but the ethical of the parties involved.
I hope to get that lion, but I will come home feeling I did the right thing if it alludes me. What will disappointment me is that the way things seem to be headed, I will not be able to return next year and try again.
Another good discussion that makes Africa Hunting a forum worth participating in.
Here are my 2 cents. I don't agree entirely that fences are necessary to manage wildlife. Look at the high numbers of free ranging game on Namibia's cattle ranches. It is only in southern Africa where game ranching with high fences is so common. Nowhere else in the world (except for Texas) are fences used extensively to manage wildlife.
The problem lies with Res nullius where wildlife does belong to nobody, until it becomes occupatio. This means until the animal is killed or contained. In southern Africa the landowner owns the wildlife until it moves to the next landowner, unlike in the USA. So how do you contain wildlife? You put a game-proof fence around your property and that is what happened in sth Africa. This is allowed under Res nullius.
And when money talks, quiet a few game farms soon become glorified zoos, being either too small, or being over-stocked with animals, overgrazed, or also stocked with species outside their natural distribution, i.e. exotics.
Hunting lions on a fenced game ranch is of course a different discussion. The size of the area should not be based on 1000 ha or 3000 ha etc., it should take the species home range or territory into account. For example a steenbok has a small territory, whereas elephants cannot be held on a 1000 ha game ranch and portrayed as a "natural setting". The problem is that many game ranches are too small to provide lions with a large enough territory.
This is my view: It looks like we lost my post on this.
There are NO huntable free roaming lion in SA that is not fenced in one way or another.
By law no Lion can be released on public or unfenced land.
Since the Regulations pertaining to lion hunting changed it is tied up in a appeal/moratorium in the high court and the "old" regulations are still followed -so they are being "hunted".
Since the bubble burst a long time ago about the "canned hunting" nothing has changed it has in fact gotten about 100 times bigger!! :rolleyes:
I think it is a question of time, fewer hunters want to spend 21 days on a lion hunt and don't have a guarantee to get what they want - size/age. When they can get a guarantee on size/age in Sa on a 3-5 day "hunt".
The world has become one big rat race!
Ethics plays no role here with the clients that book one of these "hunts" and they do not care to much about fair chase, in fact a lot of them might see it as a bigger challenge to go tracking on foot than to sit in a blind over bait.
For as long as the demand is there outfitters will cater for it.
In all cases where captive bred lions are "hunted" the clients have to sighn an indemnity that they know and understand that the lion in question was captive bred and released - so they know! or shall I say they should know.
I don't think more than a 100 free roaming lions get hunted in the rest of Africa each year, maybe less, but the fact is that 2x to 4x that get shot in SA every year.
Makes you think what the prices will go to in the rest of Africa (few countries that still hunt) if SA closes.
Fact, there is still "good" clients out there that won't partake in this practise, BUT, unfortunately the ones that will, outnumber them by far!! :eek:
I agree with what you have said and unfortunately that is the reality. And that is where the question comes in of when is it ethical and/or fair chase.
Originally Posted by AFRIVENTURE
I have been following this thread closely over the past few days and would have to say that I think good points where made on behalf of Intu safaris and Afriadventure though I think it is very important that we look at the reality and not just trough stones.
The bottom line is that South Africa has been getting a bad rap just because of a few bad apples.:mad:
Folks animals are hunted in a unsportsmanlike fashion on a yearly basis in all of the African countries that I can promise you but once again it is not everyone who are guilty of such acts but the few bad apples.:confused:
Lion hunting is surely a sensitive matter and we can debate about what is ethical of the next 100 years and guess what if we keep on discrediting the ethics of hunters and lion hunts in specific the only thing that we will be doing is debating about it since we are so focused on who does what we will manage to destroy hunting by making sure that the bad publicity stays in the lime light.
Is captive bread lion hunts for everyone surely not but then again what does the person do who can’t afford that 21 day hunt in Tanzania?
Maybe it will be a good idea to lower the prices in countries where wild lions can still be hunted and then just let them close captive bread lion hunts but then we have to look at the long term effects such as overhunting the demise of the entire wild lion population and surely the closure of lion hunting in all of Africa forever?
Guys come on this has to be done on a sustainable basis and I personally think that there are a lot of operations in both South Africa and Namibia who are doing a pretty good job.
The way I see it having captive bread lions around is an insurance policy for the wild lion populations and it will help us in the long run with the fight to keep lion hunting open in al of Africa.
As for the whole ethics thing I have seen or heard of some really ethical people doing some really unethical things take politicians for an example.
Ethics is up to the client and his PH we will have to start to make a stand and get the bad apples out of all hunting but unfortunately as long as we stand divided I fear that we will achieve nothing?:(
Please think about this before you criticize good honest people along with the bad apples.