Lion Hunting RSA - A very strong opinion from Jensen Safaris
After JaimieD had a query here on AH I started to do some research. You know, the whole canned Lion thing. Court battles, Associations, outfitters, etc.
I searched the latest President of the SA Predator Breeders Association (SAPBA): Prof. Pieter Potgieter and voila.
I got this from Jensen Safaris website. Jensen Safaris Home Page
It was posted in Danish but I translated it with assistance and thought I would share it on AH.
My favorite part about this rant is his illustration of respect for American Hunters:
"The American hunters are a gullible lot, and the SA hunting industry have for years been feeding on their willingness to turn a blind eye to any factor, as long as they could ensure the killing of large trophies."
Letter published in the latest issue of SA JAGTER/HUNTER
In your April issue Prof. Pieter Potgieter describes the successful court action by lion farmers, where new laws forcing farmers to ensure that lions live a natural life of a minimum of 24 months before being hunted, were suppressed on a technicality in the Free State High Court, as a victory for the hunting industry in SA. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The laws were newer made to protect the lion population in the country - they were actually promulgated in order to protect the reputation of our professional hunting industry, which was suffering greatly from numerous examples of unethical so-called "canned" lion hunts, which by neglect of the authorities had developed into an industry of considerable proportions. To suggest that "self-discipline" amongst lion farmers would be a suitable solution equals the famous joke about letting the wolf look after the sheep.
Comparing lion breeding with the release of game birds in Europe is irrelevant. I was educated as a gamekeeper in Denmark, and I can assure you that all game birds where released in the forest at the age of 5-6 weeks, and thereafter lived a natural life in the forest, mixing with the population of wild pheasants and ducks. By the time we hunted these birds, they were as wild and natural as they could possibly be. Likewise it is no excuse to compare it with the ridiculous artificial farming of giant red deer trophies in New Zealand. Whilst still in velvet, the deer are caught, and the ends of their antlers are then cut with an axe, in other to achieve an unnatural number of points. This unethical practice is being widely reported upon in overseas magazines. When next time you see one of those giant trophies advertised, you can rest assured that it has been created entirely by human interference in the growth process.
The American hunters are a gullible lot, and the SA hunting industry have for years been feeding on their willingness to turn a blind eye to any factor, as long as they could ensure the killing of large trophies. Many African species are now being hunted in small fenced areas of Texas, and a huge portion of the lions appearing in the record books can be described as canned lions, most of them released on the very day of the hunt, and often drugged. There was every reason for Minister van Schalkwyk to interfere in the practice, and one can only hope that the laws be rewritten as a matter of urgency, so that we can again proudly market South Africa as a hunting destination, where "fair chase" is as important as creating an income for both outfitters and the owners of hunting land.
You must realize that attitudes are changing, especially in Europe, where the actual quality of the hunting experience is becoming more important than numbers and inches. All hunters like to shoot large trophies - make no mistake, but the price can be too high, especially if the hunt takes place in a small fenced area or from a vehicle or in other unethical ways. Such a trophy may present much less value to the client, and he is unlikely to recommend the experience to others.
I've been a hunting outfitter in SA for over 30 years, and I myself have had to adjust to this new attitude. We do a lot more walking, and try to enhance the entire hunting experience in such a way, that the clients and their friends keep coming back. Danish hunting magazines often refuse to publish stories on South African lion hunts, because they all know that it is being done in an unethical way not befitting a decent sportsman. Many of the hapless victims of this con do not even realize they've been taken in, although they do usually notice, that apart from their grand lion trophy, no other lions had been noticed in the veld. Of course not - God forbid that those lions would feed on anything else than dead donkeys and refuse from abattoirs. That would mean they'd lived a natural life in the bush, and none of those lions ever have. Some of the huge black-maned lions have been known to loose their color in the tanning process, because they have been artificially dollied-up before the hunt, and the poor taxidermists has to go and buy hair dye at the local supermarket, in order to satisfy the proud hunter.
It will be absolutely no loss to the SA hunting industry if this entire menace is closed down. Let the Yanks breed their own lions in Texas and let them out in the morning of the hunt - it does not befit a first class African hunting country to use such methods. And don't call it lion hunting, but rather lion "shooting", because hunting it is not.
Holger Krogsgaard Jensen