African Outfitter :: Editor's Letter
September / October 2015
   African Outfitter

CUSTODIAN FOR PROFESSIONAL HUNTING...

Call me philosophical, old-fashioned, or just in a bad mood, if you like.

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary gives the following definition for an association: “an official group of people who have jo
ined together for a particular purpose”. This particular purpose can be anything but it was initially the combined desire or belief of the founding members, and members joined this association because they had the same belief and desire – surely that can be the only reason why they would want to join such an association. This means that the association stands for certain issues and members join it because they belief the same and definitely not the other way round. Such an association can then grow if it attracts enough like-minded people that support and contribute to what the association stands for. As an individual, you will find no purpose in joining such an organisation if you do not share its particular purpose or belief. For example, if you are an animal rights activist, surely there would be no purpose in joining a hunting association as you share no mutual purpose. The other side of the coin is that you may find an association that wishes to grow its membership but by mistake gives in to the pressures of new or existing members, who have mixed or different purposes, and due to their positions somewhere else force their particular purpose on the association. This is where the problem starts, as the original purpose of the association is gradually changed or watered down to accommodate such members, and to be more attractive to new members that may not have the passion for the original purpose. This is when such an association loses integrity to the outside audience.

The aforementioned dictionary defines a custodian as “a person who takes responsibility for taking care of or protecting something”, but I’m sure that the word “person” could be replaced with “association” in a certain context. Therefore an association could be the custodian of a group to protect or take care of the particular purposes that motivated that group to form an association. When I sit back and look at what is happening in the professional hunting industry, I clearly notice the blurring of the two definitions; associations changing their core founding purposes in order to attract more members and losing focus of being a custodian of what they are supposed to stand for.

I am very concerned about professional hunting, specifically in South Africa, given the huge onslaught from animal rights activists. This country will not be able to survive this onslaught, given some of our practices such as intensive breeding of wild animals (including colour variants) and the hunting/shooting of captive-bred lions. Blood Lions, a documentary feature film on captive-bred lions that are killed during canned hunts and slaughtered for the lion bone trade, premiered at the Durban International Film Festival on 22 July. Films like this one do professional hunting no favours and the sad part is that we cannot deny these practices. Professional hunting needs a custodian, but for South Africa it might be too late. However, I do pray that people’s eyes will open to the real dangers we are currently facing.

Subsequent to the screening of this film, Hermann Meyeridricks, president of the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA), in a letter to members, is asking the hunting association to reconsider its position on lion hunting – a request that might be a little too late . . . (Also see what SAMPEO has to say on page 16 of this issue.)

Neels Geldenhuys
Chief Editor

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