#ShockWildlifeTruths: Largest safari club in the US slams the door shut on SA’s canned lion industry

Las Vegas - The world’s largest hunting club, Safari Club International (SCI) has slammed the door shut on South Africa’s canned lion industry, announcing it will no longer allow captive bred lion operators to advertise or market captive bred lions (CBL) at its annual convention, and will reject all captive-bred lion entries for its record books.

According to the SCI website, the SCI board's latest decision comes into effect tomorrow, a day after its 46th annual convention wraps up in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"This outcome should have an immediate effect on government policy going forward” a local professional hunter told the author.

He said sources at the SCI convention reported seeing a special representative dispatched by Minister for Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa, assessing the situation there.

According to global opinion, the canned hunting and captive bred lion industries have caused severe reputation damage to the image of South Africa and Brand SA.

Three weeks ago, the Dallas Safari Club joined a host of America’s most reputable hunting institutions that have rejected the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa's (PHASA) recent reversal of its policy around captive bred lion hunts.

SEE: #ShockWildlifeTruths: American trophy hunters condemn South African canned lion hunting

Speaking to the media, Stan Burger, the former president of Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA), says, “I can’t tell you how happy I am.

 This is like a crowning achievement for me, and the culmination of two years of hard work.  I have been through two years of suffering and anguish because of certain people in the hunting industry. But now this is proof I am finally vindicated” he said.

Last year, Burger was ousted as the PHASA's president for trying to enforce its anti-CBL hunting policy and purge the association of CBL operators. He was made to sign certain non-disclosure agreements, and later quit the association in disgust.

Johannesburg director for CACH (Campaign Against Canned Hunting), Linda Park, said, "I was over the moon when I read the SCI statement.

“The leadership at SCI have listened to the voices of reason and acted, and for that, they should be congratulated.

“We were all anticipating an announcement from SCI, but what they were going to say, nobody really knew.  We are absolutely delighted, and this shows “the-times-they-are-a-changing”.

“SCI’s position at this crucial time in our campaign is most welcome, and adds to our firm belief that the end of this wretched and deplorable practice is in sight. 

SEE: #ShockWildlifeTruths: PHASA backtracks and approves 'canned' lion hunting

Our own government should listen and follow these examples, and close down these pitiful lion breeding operations, as well as the ruthless killers who market and conduct these disgusting hunts.

“That will be the ultimate vindication for all those who have been fighting to close this shameful industry down. To paraphrase Neil Armstrong – “one small step for man, one giant leap for lions” she said.

In its statement released yesterday, SCI says, “In considering  that the practice of the captive breeding of lions for the purpose of hunting has doubtful value to the conservation of lions in the wild, and considering that such hunting is not consistent with SCI’s criteria for estate hunting, the SCI Board (has adopted the following policy:

  • SCI opposes the hunting of African lions bred in captivity.
  • This policy takes effect on February 4, 2018 and applies to hunts taking place after adoption of this policy and to any Record Book entry related to such hunts.
  • SCI will not accept advertising from any operator for any such hunts, nor will SCI allow operators to sell hunts for lions bred in captivity at the SCI Annual Hunters’ Convention.

Stewart Dorrington, president of the newly-formed Custodians of Professional Hunting and Conservation South Africa (CPHCSA) says, "We commend SCI for their bold statement on captive bred lions and trust that other respected hunting associations will take note and follow suit.”

According to a Traveller24 news source, SCI's leadership attended the PHASA AGM in November last year, and saw first-hand the train-wreck that was about to happen.

They warned PHASA about the consequences of reversing its position around captive bred lion hunts, but PHASA’s EXCO and members failed to heed the warnings.

“That decision taken at the PHASA AGM was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back” said a former PHASA president who also quit with other members and joined CPHCSA in December.

“If the captive bred lion industry had not pushed to “capture” PHASA and its executive committee, and reverse PHASA’s policy which opposed captive bred lion shooting, they probably could have quietly gotten on with their “dirty” business.

“But they pushed us off PHASA and brought it on themselves. They clearly brought this situation into the spotlight, and have nobody but themselves to blame” he said.

SEE: #ShockWildlifeTruths: Lion cub petting industry lies you need to stop believing

In 2016, the US Fish & Wildlife Department announced it would no longer allow American hunters to import hunting trophies of captive bred lions into the USA.      

"Captive-bred lions are managed for financial gain, with genetics and population demographics manipulated for this purpose. This could compromise genetic integrity and provenance and therefore make these lions not suitable for reintroduction purposes.

“The South African Ministry of Environmental Affairs has limited control over the management and harvest of these animals on private lands. We have yet to receive specific information about the hunting of captive lions in South Africa demonstrating a benefit from these activities to the long-term survival of the species in the wild" it said in a statement.

In some strange form of twisted logic, PHASA currently argues that the hunting of captive-bred lions is a lawful activity in South Africa, yet in the same breath contends “PHASA vehemently rejects any and all forms of canned or illegal hunting”.

PHASA further adds that it only recognizes eight “accredited” captive bred lion hunting farms that meet its criteria. Just what that criteria is remains highly contentious.

Captive bred lion hunts are seldom monitored by environment department officials in South Africa, and the qualifications of many of officials remains questionable.

SEE: Unbanning US trophy imports: Trump jams a spanner in the works

According to a media release on its website, “PHASA realizes that there is a vast amount of misinformation and falsehoods out there and the EXCO plans to set the record straight with all relevant information within the near future”.

Speaking from Las Vegas, PHASA president Dries Van Coller said he met with SCI officials on Friday. “While this is a setback for some of our farmers, SCI explained their position on captive bred lions will have no effect on its association with PHASA. 

“SCI assured me once again yesterday they are looking forward to making things better and to see how we can enhance these lions on these eight PHASA accredited farms” he said. 

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