Hunters welcome lion rules, but…

The hunting community has been divided since minister of environmental affairs and tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk outlawed the hunting of captive-bred large predators earlier this year.
Issue date 15 June 2007

The hunting community has been divided since minister of environmental affairs and tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk outlawed the hunting of captive-bred large predators earlier this year. The regulation on threatened and protected species was set to come into effect on 1 June, prohibiting anyone from hunting animals within two years of their release on a property. However, at the beginning of May, Van Schalkwyk postponed the &shy;implementation date of the &shy;regulations to February next year. <br /> <br /> This decision caused a flurry of reactions as many view the postponement as a sign that the minister might be buckling under the pressure from provincial governments. Those in favour of the legalisation of this form of hunting say it will prevent a huge economic dip. Those against it fear their endorsement might cause more &shy;problems in future for hunting enthusiasts.<br /> <br /> The Professional Hunters&rsquo; Association of SA (Phasa) and the SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SAHGCA) are against canned hunting, but admit an immediate &shy;moratorium would be unrealistic and impractical.&nbsp; Phasa president Stewart Dorrington said: &ldquo;The executive has decided to endorse the minister&rsquo;s decision and oppose the canned lion-hunting industry. The problem I have personally with the legislation is that anti-hunting lobbyists will use this decision to tackle other forms of hunting, using the decision as a precedent. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;What&rsquo;s more, we are worried about the &shy;pressure being put on the minister. At the recent North West budget speech it emerged that the hunting industry makes millions of rand, most of which comes from lion-hunting. Should the &shy;minister buckle under the pressure it would undermine our stance. As it is we are losing &shy;members in North West due to the fact that we are opposed to canned hunting.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> SAHGCA&rsquo;s vice-president of conservation Prof Gerhard Verdoorn said the postponement was a good decision. &ldquo;To implement the &shy;regulation so soon would have been a fatal error. We strongly oppose canned hunting, but one has to take into consideration the litigation &shy;measures that go hand in hand with such immediate &shy;implementation. It would not be pragmatic. What are they supposed to do with the lions that are currently in canned hunting situations? One would have to allow time for the phasing out of this practice,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Verdoorn said the effects would be even more far-reaching: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s easy to make laws, but &shy;adhering to the constitution is not as easy, especially if one legislates without taking public comment into serious consideration.&rdquo; &ndash; Cornelia du Plooy