Claws come out over US auction of SA hunts


Kamcilla Pillay, Independent Online

Date Published

Durban – Animal rights groups have vehemently opposed the US auction of hunts of more than 200 South African animals.

Wildlife organisation Conservation Action Trust’s Adam Cruise said US-based Safari Club International (SCI), which describes itself as a hunters-rights protection group, would auction the hunt for 280 South African animals to raise funds to lobby the Trump administration against measures that protected threatened species like elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo and leopard.

“At a trophy convention that the club is hosting this week in Las Vegas, the hunting lobby group expects the estimated 25 000 hunters to bid on at least 60 South African hunting trips.”

American hunters are offered the chance to kill members of South Africa’s iconic species, including giraffe, hippo, zebra, baboon, wildebeest, sable antelope, warthog, greater kudu, impala, springbok, blesbok, caracal and African wildcat, with 119 other animals proffered as “upgrades” for an “additional cost”.

Cruise said that the South Africa hunts were valued at $1.01million (more than R13m), from an estimated total of $5.3m from other hunts on auction, which include the hunting of about 1000 mammals internationally, including highly-endangered polar bears.

He claims that the money will be used to lobby the US government to take on a more hunting-friendly stance.

The club announced late last month on its website that it had filed a lawsuit against three sets of Obama administration regulations that prohibited and restricted certain methods and means of hunting in protected areas.

“(We have) gone to court to prevent the federal government from depriving hunters of healthy wildlife populations to enjoy,” said SCI president Larry Higgins.

“The US Fish and Wildlife Services and National Park Services have issued rules that will enable predator populations to decimate game populations.”

“The club cannot allow this type of mismanagement and disregard for state authority to stand.”

This week, as part of the online auction, there will be two South Africa hunts valued at $16 500 and $15 000 each.

One auction offers an upgrade to hunt an elephant and an African lion.

Masha Kalinina, international trade policy specialist for Humane Society International, said: “We are worried that with the new US administration, pro-trophy hunting advocacy groups, like Safari Club International, will have undue negative influence on key wildlife conservation issues.

“It’s even worse to think that the lost lives of South African mammals are helping finance this agenda far across the globe.

“It’s time to bust the myth that killing for kicks helps conservation in any significant way at all: it simply doesn’t.”

The Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa said on Thursday that the views represented in the statements from the animal rights groups were “one-sided, a blatant misrepresentation of the truth, and a bitter attack on South Africa’s hunting sector”.

They said there was a misconception that the article fuelled – that endangered species could be freely hunted.

“The hunting of endangered species is strictly regulated through the various government nature conservation authorities and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.”