The Debate On Hunting And Game Breeding in South Africa
April 2015, Volume 13-2

Readers of African Indaba have followed the debate on hunting and game breeding in South Africa. The stance of the editors of African Indaba and the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) has been made abundantly clear. Now the South African Hunting and Game Conservation Association and the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa came out with public statements on the subject. PHASA backed up their statement with a South African Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) position on color morphs. Interestingly this SANBI statement dates from 2010! The SAHGA statement was immediately followed by a press release of Wildlife Ranching South Africa, which attacked individuals and associations not conforming to the WRSA view.

In the interest of fair journalism, we publish all these statements unabridged. We do not believe that the debate should take place out of the public eye and ear; too much, namely the conservation ethos of South Africa, is at risk. Peter Flack, well-known writer, hunter-conservationist and former game rancher, said in his blog “I think I speak for a number of amateur hunters and game ranchers who [want] the debate out in the open where we can judge the rights and wrongs, threats and opportunities of the situation for ourselves.”

The game ranchers of South Africa and the regulating bodies in this country should contemplate what I said in my 2005 article Hunting in South Africa: Facts. Risks and Opportunities (see July/August 2005 Vol 3-4 and September/October 2005 Vol 3-5) – here are some short extracts:

  • … When we read about the wildlife industry, [the] expressions game ranching, game farming and game breeding are often used interchangeably. I suggest that it is essential to make a distinction between wildlife management for conservation and wildlife manipulation for selective breeding of individual species, since otherwise serious interpretation problems and misunderstandings may evolve …
  • … Scientifically sound ecological principles must remain one of the underlying purposes of private conservation and wildlife management. To deservedly use the proud phrase The South African Conservation Revolution, the stakeholders in the wildlife industry [must] ensure that the conservation of biodiversity on their land is based on these principles …
  • … Hunters prefer large areas without internal subdivisions. Ecotourists also find them more attractive and more akin to the Old Africa. Game and veld management will be less complicated and less susceptible to climatic changes and disease incidents on large conservancies. Conservancies are ideally suited for the inclusion of community and BEE partners and last not least they have the highest triple bottom line potential …
  • … South African game ranchers and their colleagues from professional hunting need to take a positive attitude and think forward in these difficult and challenging times. Pro-active engagement in biodiversity conservation initiatives, participation in wildlife research and an integrated approach to natural resource management must be cornerstones …

On April 6th Bloomberg.com reported that the SA Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) said in an emailed response to questions dated March 31st that the Scientific Authority of South Africa (SANBI) is compiling a scientific study into the growing practice of breeding so-called color- variant animals such as golden gnus, black impala and white kudu. “DEA does not regard the intentional breeding of animals for specific traits such as color coats as a conservation benefit”, the department is reported to have said and “whether it is a threat to conservation would depend on the size and genetic make-up (genetic diversity) of the population into which the color morphs are introduced.” DEA plans that the outcome of a national dialogue, as well as the SANBI scientific report assists determining whether or not it will be necessary to regulate or monitor this practice.

Read the following articles and form your own opinion – African Indaba welcomes contributions to the debate!

Author: Gerhard R Damm