NAPHA Press Release - 9th October 2009
We at NAPHA, the Namibian Professional Hunting Association, are proud of our country, our clients and our members who are committed to ethical hunting. Namibia is one of the few countries in the world where government and the hunting industry work closely together. In Namibia sport hunting is widely accepted and approved and our visiting hunters are treated well. In hindsight we realize that, unfortunately our press release of September 23 created several impressions that worked against us. We would like to correct those impressions and set the record straight.
First, some background on the issue of hunting big cats: On April 24 and June 15 this year, the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET, which has jurisdiction over our hunting industry) issued moratoriums, first on cheetah and then on leopard, for the issuing of trophy hunting permits. The export quotas for these two species had been met for the year. MET's decision was supported by NAPHA, although several Trophy Hunting Operators had to inform clients of this on short notice.
Meanwhile, word of unscrupulous and possibly illegal leopard hunting began to reach us. NAPHA's Executive Committee called a Special General Meeting, on July 31, of the membership to discuss the leopard and cheetah situation. An overwhelming majority voted to request MET to temporarily suspend hound hunting, and to draft better guidelines for fair-chase pursuit of these animals.
Second, our public perceived threats: We should not have invoked the US Fish Wildlife Service, the America's Lacey Act or any other international authorities or laws. It was not our intention to threaten or single out any specific nationality of hunting client. A trophy that was taken unlawfully in Namibia, could in turn, trigger local laws in whatever country the illegal trophy is shipped to.
Third, visiting hunters are not responsible for knowing Namibia's trophy hunting laws and regulations in detail. We agree that they must be able to put themselves in the hands of our qualified and registered Namibian Hunting Professionals and have the confidence that these laws will be kept.
Fourth, NAPHA itself: We are a not-for-profit, member-run trade association, not an arm of government, and we have no legal authority. Since 1974 we have sought to protect the right to hunt by establishing guidelines for fair chase and by advising government on game and land-use laws to sustain our wild species. Membership is voluntary and today the majority of Namibia's Hunting Professionals belong to the association. In order to join NAPHA, Hunting Professionals are required to provide proof that they fulfill all the required criteria to operate in Namibia - this is one of the many benefits of booking with a NAPHA member. We are the only group that represents the private sector of the trophy hunting industry in Namibia.
Hunting Professional certification in Namibia is awarded by MET, not by NAPHA. There are legitimate Hunting Professionals in Namibia, who are not members of NAPHA. Disagreements can occur in any group of people, and some individuals are not "joiners." It is not our intention to force people into our association. It is our intention, however, to get everyone in our country to play according to the rules in order to safeguard hunting for the future.
Illegal hunting became a fact of life from the moment the first game laws were enacted, centuries ago. Since then it's been an ongoing battle, with standards continually evolving. Today Namibia has some of the most sane and sensible game laws on earth-and, as a direct result, some of the best trophy hunting. However, as long as there are hunting clients who want certain trophies at any cost and by any means, there will be Hunting Professionals willing to deliver, even here in Namibia.
The present furor has come about because we take these matters seriously and because we want to inform people about the possible pitfalls of hunting in Namibia with illegal, non-qualified and unregistered outfitters conducting unlawful and unethical hunting.
However, our original statement was too harsh; we apologize. With hunting under pressure in so many places, we cannot afford to create divisions within our own ranks-especially concerning matters that most hunters agree on. Response from around the world showed us this, and is helping to guide our actions. We appreciate the feedback.
Our goals here are self-regulation within Namibia and open communication with the international community-for the sake of our superb trophy hunting.
NAPHA Executive Committee