The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa held its annual General Membership meeting in Drakensburg, South Africa. Stewart Dorrington was re-elected as president. Gray Thornton of Dallas Safari Club was the keynote speaker at the black tie dinner and auction. His auction speech led to a record-breaking auction and filled the audience with happy tears. Dallas Safari Club was also recognized for being the largest contributor to PHASA’s Conservation and Empowerment Fund. PHASA is leading the effort for better Norms and Standards for hunting in South Africa. The 4,100 members of PHASA have long been against canned hunting, mixed breeding, the introduction of non-indigenous game and other practices that are expected to become illegal in March, 2007. PHASA’s leadership has been attending workshops around the world with Conservation Force in search of guidance on best hunting practices. They may well become a model to follow.
The South African Wildlife Authorities attended the PHASA meeting and had a positive attitude. Nevertheless, animal rights groups have had their input that may have degraded the safari industry’s efforts. Should it be necessary, the Conservation and Empowerment fund is being built up for possible litigation.
Conservation Force works very closely with PHASA which is a full supporting member of Conservation Force. PHASA is the largest professional hunters association in the world. PHASA renewed its supporting membership of Conservation Force during the meeting. It also awarded Gerhard Damm of Conservation Force’s Board of Directors its prestigious Wildlife Utilization Award, 2006 for his extensive work on the proposed Norms and Standards.
Ian Player was the opening speaker. He is well known for having saved the white rhino. His talk about that was quite revealing. Seems he had traveled the United States and copied its park and user-funded conservation system. He spoke highly of hunters and the conservation role they have played both in the United States and South Africa. He had studied Teddy Roosevelt the hunter and had put his teachings to work in South Africa. Ian is widely recognized as a great man and is the older brother of the famous golfer Gary Player. – John J. Jackson, III.