Important Perspective – Joint Statement on Captive Bred Lion Shooting
The TRUE GREEN ALLIANCE (TGA)
To put this important newsletter into perspective:
The TGA is not a hunting association of any kind. We do, however, support hunting as a management tool for the sustainable-use harvesting of South Africa’s renewable wild living resources. We do not consider wildlife to be a ‘sacred cow’, but a WILD ‘product of the land’ that equates to domesticated animals and cultivated crops being TAME (or DOMESTIC) ‘products of the land’. And we sincerely believe that all ‘products of the land’ (wild and domestic) should be used wisely and sustainably for the benefit of mankind.
The TGA notes that six international hunting organizations (CIC, DSC, Rowland Ward, IPHA, OPHAA and APHA) have just released a newsletter which encourages ‘other’ hunting associations to join them in a group which they call: “United Against Captive Bred Lion Shootings”. The CIC and DSC – who are the co-signatories of the initial joint statement on the subject of captive bred lion shooting – have observed that: “We would like to thank these (new) organizations for joining as co-signatories, and encourage others who wish to join, to please contact us.”
In their notation: the group jointly states that they:
The signatories agree that this statement may be amended, as further information becomes available, should the signatories jointly agree on and sign the revised text”.
The TGA does not agree with all these conclusions. (1 – 6).
Re your Conclusion 2, for example, you say: “the practice is not consistent with the definition of responsible, sustainable, fair chase hunting”. Whose definition are the signatories referring to here? It is the TGA’s opinion, for example, that CBL Lion hunting can be made just as ‘responsible’ and just as ‘sustainable’ as any other kind of lion hunting. AND it is our opinion that hunting a CBL lion, using the walk-and-stalk method of hunting (which is the only LEGAL way to hunt a lion in South Africa) is more exciting, more dangerous, and more akin to ‘fair chase’ hunting than is hunting a lion over a bait from a hide.
Re your Conclusions 1 & 3: The TGA has no comment to make other than to say that these conclusions are matters of personal preference opinion and or prejudice.
Re your Conclusion 4: You ‘EMPHASIZE that the shooting of lions bred in captivity damages the reputation of all hunters’. It is my contention that people like yourselves encourage everybody else to have ‘an opinion’ about CBL Lion hunting. It is my opinion, however, that if you (and the “Custodians”) had just kept your personal preference prejudices to yourselves, the controversy would not have gained the momentum that it has enjoyed. So I would like to boomerang this conclusion right back into your own laps.
Re Your Conclusion 5: CALL ON any governments that allow the legal shooting of lions bred in captivity, to consider the wider implications to responsible, sustainable, fair-chase hunting. I actually agree with you on this issue; but I would ask YOU to consider the wider issues (See Part FOUR) because you haven’t thought this issue through yourselves.
Re your Conclusion 6. In this respect, your conclusion is your prerogative.
We also believe that if we are going to have to kowtow to anyone and everyone who, on a whim, makes a demand on South Africans to stop shooting CBL Lions, we (and they) will be then honour-bound to stop all breeding of fish in hatcheries (trout, salmon, tilapia, carp and a host of other species) for angling purposes; and to stop all captive-breeding and release into the wild, of exotic pheasants and partridges for the purpose of sport hunting.
The TGA supports, also, the production of legally procured lion skeletons for the Far Eastern Lion Bone Trade. We see no difference between breeding Brahman oxen for the abattoir – in order to produce meat for man to eat – and producing lions’ bones with which the people of the Far East can make their traditional ‘tiger bone’ wine. What right do we in the West have, to dictate to the people of the Far East?
We do not believe at all that the production of lion skeletons on South African CBL farms, for the Far Eastern Lion Bone trade, will in anyway promote the poaching of lions for this traditional industry.
LION ‘CONSERVATION VALUE’
You (six signatories) have chosen to partner with the animal rights brigade – one or two of you more than others – by spreading the uncorroborated fabrication that the CBL Industry has no ‘Conservation Value’ for wild lions in Africa. Well, you are wrong. Whilst you have been carrying out your crusade to destroy the CBL Industry, come hell or high water, the lion farmers have been proving something that they have KNOWN, and that they have been TELLING us about, all along. And that is that captive-bred lions adapt very easily, and very readily, to being returned to the wild. But you, and many others like you, have not listened. You have, instead stuck obstinately to your own personal preference prejudices – and they are prejudices – that captive-bred lions cannot be returned to the wild. You don’t WANT – for your own ideological reasons – to believe that such a thing is possible
Whilst you have been fuming with all your self-satisfying suppositions, the lion farmers have put together a very constructive experiment to prove to the world that they have been right all along.
In a nutshell, about two years ago, a handful of CBL Industry lion farmers, released five young, adult (virgin) lions onto a large game ranch (40 000 hectares) somewhere in South Africa. These animals were taken directly out of the CBL breeding pens. They had never killed a wild animal in their lives before. They were not in any way especially conditioned to be released back to the wild. Four young lionesses, and one young adult male lion, were released together onto the game ranch, unfed (and they have never been fed since their release); and they ran off into the bush in different directions.
The young male and two young females formed a pride and, over the last two years, they have stuck together. The remaining two young females went off on their individual ways and they established home ranges of their own, alone.
The game ranch is well stocked with a host of different indigenous game species. And, from day ONE, the lions have killed and fed themselves.
All four lionesses produced cubs during their first year of freedom; 13 of which survived. During their second year all four the lionesses again produced cubs. Altogether, they have produced 21 surviving cubs inside a period of two years. The males of the first litter are now all grown up to a size that equates to their mothers’ shoulder heights.
There is a lot more to this success story than meets the eye. The whole study has been avidly and accurately put together by a PhD student who is writing a university doctorate on his observations. He still has twelve months to go before he hands in his thesis. Until then, no more information will be divulged.
Even with the data already collected, it is very obvious that, with practically no help from man, wild lion prides (and whole new wild lion populations) can be reestablished anywhere in the wild. The only prerequisite is that a good prey base must exist. Already we can predict that in all those places in Africa from which the lion has been extirpated, for whatever reason going back 50 to 100 years, can be repopulated with CBL lions bred for that purpose.
The point I wish to make, however, is this: if the world listens to the appeals of the six signatories to this destructive paper (United Against Captive Bred Lion Shootings) and if they succeed in getting the CBL Industry destroyed in South Africa, they will have successfully removed any chance that Africa’s lions can be returned to their former glory.
It is recommended that the six signatories to this paper – “United Against Captive Bred Lion Shootings”– visit cap-in-hand, with the lion farmers of South Africa’s Predator Association (SAPA), who (I know) are quite willing to pull out all stops to give these hunter associations a thorough briefing with regards to what makes CBL tick.
As I see it, the six signatories can rather join hands with SAPA, and with the CBL Industry, to raise funds internationally, for the rehabilitation of wild lion populations from anywhere and everywhere in Africa from where lions have disappeared over the last century.
HRH Prince William goes wild grouse hunting in Scotland with his young son every year and gets roasted for it by the ‘People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) in America. Then His Royal Highness goes south into central England and shoots some of the 50 million captive-bred pheasants and some of the 10 million captive-bred partridges, that are annually released into the British country-side so that they can be hunted by British sportsmen and sportswomen, at a good price. Prince William has the right to participate in these events, as do his royal family members at Buckingham Palace, as does the rest of the British populace in both wild grouse and captive-bred pheasant hunting events wherever these events occur, are controlled, are sustainable and are legal.
And, I contend, that the same happy criteria should apply to people who WANT to hunt wild lions; and others who WANT to hunt captive-bred lions. It they are there to be hunted; if they are affordable; if their hunting is legal, why should the general publics of this world have their freedoms arrogantly curtailed by a bunch of strange people who believe they have the God-given right to enforce their uncorroborated opinions on other people. On their own precious whims! As an ordinary citizen of this world, I think we all have the right to question the validity of these arrogant dictates. On exactly what grounds do the CIC and DSC (and the others) have the right to impose their will on others?
Conversely, at what point does society have the right to say “enough is enough!” Who are all these strange people, some with heavily vested interests in particular hunting pursuits, who believe they have the right to tell other people what they can and cannot do with their own lions?
Where do ‘they’ get the right to tell the citizens of another country just what they can and cannot do with their own lions?
In the rest of Africa, the normal way to shoot a wild lion is to drag a bait (e.g. half-a-wildebeest carcass) behind a 4×4 vehicle; and then to get a lion to follow the scent of the bait to particular place. The lion is then shot from a hide (a carefully concealed bush enclosure) which is placed some 30 yards away from the bait. This is called shooting a lion, over a bait, from a hide. The principle co-signatories to this document support ONLY the hunting of WILD lions, over a bait and from a hide.
The hunting of a lion over a bait, from a hide, is illegal in South Africa.
The only way to hunt a CBL lion legally in South Africa is by way of ‘walk-and-stalk’. The hunter is required to follow the lion’s tracks, on foot, and in my opinion, he thus offers the lion a far greater opportunity to attack the hunter or to run away when pursued. In my considered opinion, by hunting a lion by way of walk-and-stalk provides far more ‘fair-chase’ hunting than the lion gets when it is being hunted, over a bait, from a hide. So the question of what represents ‘fair-chance’ hunting is very much a matter of personal preference opinion.
There has been a lot of talk about why the CBL issue broke the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa apart. Those who broke away said they left PHASA because CBL lion hunting was ‘unethical’. Others, more ‘in the know’ than I am, claim it had nothing to do with ‘ethics’. They say it had everything to do with ‘making money’.
It is rumoured that the Tanzanians were unable to compete with South Africa – when, in one year, South Africa released 800 giant male CBL lions onto the international hunting market. The price of a CBL lion – which was bigger and better than anything that Tanzania could produce from the wild – was US$ 20 000; when a wild Tanzanian lion cost over US$ 100 000.
I would love for somebody to investigate this charade and tell me exactly what transpired. Certainly there is more to this story than meets the eye.
Finally, what is the difference between shooting the wild grouse of Scotland and shooting captive-bred pheasants and partridges in the U.K., and shooting wild lions in Tanzania and CBL Lions in South Africa?
I have no axe to grind over the captive-breeding of birds and animals, and fish, for the purpose of them being hunted or angled by sportsmen; although I have never personally partaken of the shooting and the angling opportunities thus made available to me in my younger days. I am also aware of the so-called ethics and ethical hunting that supposedly takes place when grown men and women go hunting game of all descriptions; and I understand, too, the implications of what is purported to be ‘fair-chase’ and ‘free-range’ hunting practices.
What I do not understand is how some hunters have the temerity to make statements to the effect that ‘their’ personal preference opinions (prejudices), in all these matters, are superior to those who hold contrary views.
Ron Thomson CEO – TGA