Speaking to Farmer’s Weekly, Dr Gerhard Verdoorn, president of the South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SA Hunters) and founding member of the guild, said members of SA Hunters had wanted to form such a guild for a long time, to act as a countermeasure to unethical hunting practices.
The recent ‘Cecil the lion’ incident, in which a lion was lured from the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe using bait and then shot, provided the motivation to formally form the guild.
There are still many hunters who are uninformed about ‘hunting in its purest form’, but when educated about ‘fair chase’ their eyes are opened, according to Verdoorn.
“A hunter must cause as little, and if possible no, suffering at all. The principle of fair chase is to hunt an animal in its natural state and habitat, on foot, and in such a manner that it gives the animal a fair chance to escape,” Verdoorn said.
According to Verdoorn, canned hunting practices could have given SA hunting a death knell, as the country was currently known as ‘canned country’ overseas.
“It is too late for the law to intercede in this matter. The unwillingness of the state to fulfil its mandate as overseer of conservation and biodiversity has seemingly blessed the canned hunting industry. I believe [average] hunters who raise their views on canned hunting in the public, are more powerful than any law,” Verdoorn said.
The guild’s code of conduct states that members regard conservation and improvement of the environment by both fellow hunters and owners of land as a priority, and efforts have to be made to influence the public and authorities in this regard.
Stipulations in the code of conduct include:
- No animal should be hunted in an enclosed area of such a size that the animal is not self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency includes the ability to exercise its natural inclination to escape from a hunter.
- No animal, artificially bred under whatever conditions, should be hunted, even if such a creature is released into an area that may appear suitable to offer it self-sufficiency.
- No shooting may take place from, or within a short distance of a vehicle, nor may vehicles be used to drive game along.
- Only hunting weapons of the necessary power and size capable of killing game quickly and efficiently at practical ranges may be used.