Is this the Future of Cape Buffalo Hunting?

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by AFRICAN INDABA, Oct 28, 2012.



    Aug 21, 2009
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    Is this the Future of Cape Buffalo Hunting?
    by Rolf D. Baldus

    Harry looked at the buffalo through the glasses. "There's a damned good bull in that herd," he said. "Better than the one you've got by six inches at least. I'd think we'd best go and collect him." I didn't say anything. I just prayed inside me and hoped we would not have to crawl too far in order to scare me to death. I don't know what there is about buffalo that frightens me so. Lions and leopards and rhinos excite me but don't frighten me. But that buff is so big and mean, and ugly, and hard to stop, and vindictive and cruel and surly and ornery. He looks like he hates you personally. He looks like you owe him money. He looks like he is hunting you. I had looked at a couple of thousands of him by now, at close ranges, and I had killed one of him, and I was scareder than ever. He makes me sick in the stomach, and he makes my hands sweat, and he dries out my throat and my lips.

    All hunters know this passage from Robert Ruark's Horn of the Hunter. It describes better than anything else why we hunt buffalo and cannot give it up, even if charged or, on occasion, worse.

    Artificial Breeding of Buffaloes on the Increase.

    How different is the incident described by Robert Ruark from the adventure of hunting artificially bred buffaloes, which are advertised by some South African Game ranches. Advertisements, advertorials, and auction results clearly demonstrate that some South African breeders and game ranchers have started to produce bulls with horns that regularly measure 45+ inches. Such trophies have always been difficult to find in wild Cape buffaloes. And so all successful methods based on the breeding of cattle and other livestock, including the latest technologies, are now being applied to buffalo breeding. At the Thaba Tholo auction (September 11, 2012) in Thabazimbi (Limpopo Province, South Africa) a nine-year buffalo breeding-bull named Senatla was sold for 18 million Rand (approximately 2.142 million USD); at an auction in Swartruggens (North West Province, South Africa), a buyer forked out 20 million Rand (2.38 million USD) for a buffalo cow and her heifer in April 2012. Photos of big-bossed, large horned buffalo bulls for sale (like "Horison", a 5-year-old bull with a 51 3/8 inch spread and two conspicuous red ear tags) dominate the advertisements in some South African media. One advertisement for an auction on October 27, 2012 even mentions "the largest buffalo gene pool exchange in the world".

    The breeding of such buffaloes does not serve any conservation purpose. Rather, it is producing animals that will be killed solely because they possess large horns. The process reduces a formerly wild animal to a domesticated one and brings with it many dangers for biological diversity and for the future of our beloved sport of hunting.

    Pecunia non Olet?

    A friend of mine in the South African wildlife-breeders industry said to me: "What do you want to do? There's a market demand for such bred buffs. And we breeders and game ranchers just follow the demand." Well, he is right insofar that money does not stink. "Pecunia non olet," said Emperor Vespasian, after imposing a urine tax. However, there are demands, like those for child pornography or heroin, which must not be satisfied, according to law or the general consent of society.

    Accordingly, we must either have the artificial manipulation of wildlife banned by law or, if that is not possible, proscribed by ethical hunters who follow the rules of fair chase. We must face the fact that the manipulation of formerly wild animals is increasing in many parts of the world; and that many people who call themselves hunters are losing their natural feeling that killing such animals has nothing to do with hunting, especially when it happens within a confined area, which is normally the case.

    CIC Recommendation: Wildlife and Commercially-bred Formerly Wild Animals
    The International Council for Game and Wildlife Management (CIC), which is actively engaged in the conservation of our biological diversity, has recently repeated its condemnation of such malpractices. It has confirmed its support for fair-chase hunting and urged all hunters and hunting associations to oppose such unethical, manipulative practices.

    In its recommendation on Wildlife and Commercially-Bred Formerly Wild Animals, the CIC expressed its concern that such exploitation and manipulation of formerly wild animals, if uncontrolled, may have detrimental effects on biodiversity and unwanted consequences for the genetic integrity of animals that live in the wild. In particular the following is feared:

    - uncontrollable impacts on natural evolutionary processes, including changes in behavior, breeding patterns and reproductive cycles;
    - genetic pollution of naturally occurring taxa;
    - loss or irreversible alteration of evolutionary significant local wildlife populations;
    - uncontainable expansion of exotic wildlife species outside their natural habitats;
    - elevated risk of zoonotic disease outbreaks;
    - unpredictable impacts on habitats and ecosystems.

    On 8 November 2011, the CIC Council, therefore:

    1. Expressed its full commitment to further develop and promote principles, criteria and indicators for sustainable fair-chase hunting;

    2. Opposed artificial and unnatural manipulations of wildlife, including the enhancement or alteration of a species' genetic characteristics (e.g. pelage color, body size, horn or antler size) in particular through

    a. the intentional crossbreeding of species, subspecies, or evolutionary significant local phenotypes;

    b. the use of domestic livestock breeding methods, like flow cytometry or genetic testing, germplasm and semen production or trading, artificial insemination, embryo transfer, castration, growth hormone treatments, controlled or unnatural breeding programs, and cloning.

    3. Excludes all "trophies" of animals so manipulated from being scored with the copyrighted CIC Trophy Evaluation Methods;

    4. Encourages all governments to develop enforceable policies and establish relevant guidelines in their national wildlife conservation models;

    5. Offers assistance to national governmental agencies to develop policies and establish guidelines;

    6. Urges all CIC members to abstain from hunting manipulated animals;

    7. Invites all national and international hunting organizations and associations to adopt similar guidelines and policies.
    One of the buffalo breeding/hunting advertorials ended by saying: "Ethical hunting should be promoted and practiced at all costs." I agree. However, killing buffalo and other wildlife that has been artificially manipulated with the objective of producing big trophies is unethical.

    Such practices and the killing of such animals by people who pretend that this is hunting, will ruin the reputation of hunting in the short run and destroy fair chase hunting in the long run. Ruark and many renowned big-game hunters of the past would turn in their graves if they could see how their successors have turned the mbogo of Africa's savannas and miombo forests into some kind of Frankenstein creature. Anyhow, the recent buffalo price explosion looks more like a cleverly devised pyramid system, benefiting a few, and eventually ruining those who join the bandwagon late.

    This text is a modified version of an article which appeared first in the African Hunting Gazette, Vol. 17, Issue 4
  2. JacoS

    JacoS AH Legend

    Nov 29, 2011
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    I believe that you are missing the point, the artificial breeding of buff, (clarify artificial or your version/interpretation thereoff???) I am sure that this will involve some generelisation from your side....

    The breeding as for breeders, who is the end user??? Most definitely not the hunting fraternity, I have been active on average 170 days a year for the past 13 and have extremely wealthy clients and none of the have forked out $2,3 bar for a buff, this is the whole issue with this so called special species breeding.... Who is the end user....,?????

    Breeders sell to breeders, it will bottom out just a matter of time... For now I do not believe that hunting plays a role to the extent you indicate, and believe and know that game breeding (as you describe) and hunting are two different industries, yes they could inter twine and are but once again your description does not match our industry.

    I just don't see how it all makes sense... Say I were to purchase one of these $1 000 000 bulls and 15 cows at an average of $60 000 a cow that's almost 2bar worth of buff, say I have excellent growth and calfs are abundant, what do I have to sell a bull at let's say 5 years for to justify my initial investment????

    I have to admit the hunting industry can not buy these bulls from breeders and if a well respected institution or association such as yourselves came to the conclusion as you did.... I strongly question your level of being in touch with the 2 industries as a whole.

    My best.


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