South African Lion Hunting Controversy Decided By Courts


Published: July - 2009

A decision by the South African courts on captive-bred lion hunting early last month caused a flurry of media reports and online chatter announcing the end of what many refer to as "canned" lion hunting. The court ruling is the result of two years of legal wrangling between the South African Predator Breeders Association and the South African Government over regulations passed two years ago requiring an extended release period for captive-bred lions before they are hunted. The government demanded lion should roam free for two years before being shot. The Association wanted a six-month period at most, arguing that the costs of maintaining free-roaming lions would simply put their industry out of business. The government has won. The question now is, is this really the end of captive-bred lion hunting in South Africa?

The short answer is, no. Hunting for lions that were bred in captivity is going to survive, albeit on a smaller scale and a slightly different form. That's what I'm hearing from folks in the know and from PHASA, the Professional Hunter's Association of South Africa. I spoke with that organization's president, Peter Butland, just days after the court decision was rendered. He indicated that the ruling means hunters now will have the certainty that the lion they're chasing was released for a specific period before their arrival. In the past, some operators have conducted these hunts only a couple of days after releasing a lion into an enclosure. Some of these enclosures also have been rather small. The new regulations applied to lions will bring some standardization to these hunts.

"PHASA is pleased with the ruling," Butland told me. "It makes lion hunting subject to the regulations of permissible hunting methods and requires that lions be treated the same as all other protected species hunted in South Africa, as they should be."

Those regulations are spelled out in the Threatened Or Protected Species Regulations (TOPS) and include a ban on bowhunting, restrictions on the use of vehicles and hunting in small enclosures. You can read the regulations for yourself on the........(continued)

 
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