After scathing rebuttal comments written by two True Green Alliance (TGA) directors, in response to anti-sustainable-wildlife-use and anti-hunting articles that recently appeared in the Afrikaans newspaper, Die Beeld, TGA received what appeared to be something of an olive branch held out by the journalist that had written the offending articles. Her name is Elise Tempelhoff.
Ms Tempelhoff began her mail to me by stating:
“I have no idea who you are, but I know that you are pro-trophy-hunting and it seems pro-canned lions too.”
She went on to say:
“I have been to numerous lion breeding farms. I am therefore informed when I write about this industry.”
In closing, she commented: “You are welcome to send me your inputs” & “You are welcome to contact me.”
She also commented: “Today I am writing about 250 000 signatures soon to be handed over to President Cyril Ramaphosa to close down the captive breeding of industry of lion (sic).”
TGA Director Elma Britz and I, discussed Ms Tempelhoff’s e-mail. We had our doubts about her apparent olive branch and we both concurred that we were likely to gain no traction by responding. Nevertheless, we agreed that she had made the effort, so we were honour-bound to respond to her in a polite and positive manner.
Consequently, Ms Britz phoned Ms Tempelhoff and invited her, and her editor, to meet with us. We suggested that they have tea with us, or lunch, at which time we could – amicably and face-to-face – inform her about who we are and what the TGA stands for; and we told her that we would honestly answer whatever questions she had to ask about us. We suggested that, at that meeting, we could mutually investigate the possibility of there being common ground between us.
During the telephonic discussion, however, Ms Britz could hardly get a word in edgeways as Ms Tepelhoff rudely continued to express herself in a hostile manner misrepresenting facts.
It was a most disappointing conversation all round.
The outcome of the conversation was that Ms Tempelhoff was reluctant to accept our invitation for an amicable face-to-face meeting and, she said, if she did agree to such a meeting we would have to agree to her inviting into her corner several prominent South African animal rightist personalities. This very unsatisfactory conversation told Ms Britz and I, very clearly, that there was NO common ground between us. So, our reaching out to Ms Tempelhoff bore no fruit whatsoever as she was conducting herself in an emotional manner speaking fast and furiously without giving herself time to listen.
I had been prepared to explain to Ms. Tempelhoff, the TGA’s purpose in life; and that our vision is:
To create a society in southern Africa (ultimately global) that understands the principles and practices of science-based wildlife-management; that supports the wisdom of sustainably utilising southern Africa’s living resources (plants and animals – both wild and domestic) for the benefit of mankind; that approves and supports true ‘animal welfare’; and that rejects the doctrine of ‘animal rights’ – the purpose of which is to abolish all animal ‘uses’ by man.
Furthermore, it is necessary that Ms Tempelhoff (and everybody else) understands that the TGA has no business connections to game ranching; to the commercial business of buying and selling wild animals; to hunting of any kind; to the commercial ‘use’ of wildlife; to the Captive Breeding of Lions (and the sale of lion bones); and to the Captive Breeding of Rhinos (and the legal sale of rhino horn derived from farm bred animals). Nevertheless, the TGA supports all these wildlife management practices provided they are sustainable, legal and carried out humanely.
It is also one of our functions to keep the public and government properly informed about all these matters.
We also support the ‘preservation management’ (protection from all harm) of UNSAFE wild animal populations; The ‘conservation management’ (sustainable-use/culling & hunting management) of SAFE wild animal populations; and the ‘population reduction management’ (e.g. up to 50 percent reduction in population numbers at any one time) of EXCESSIVE wild animal populations, including elephants. Excessive populations are those that exist in numbers that are above the sustainable carrying capacity of their habitats.
In all these matters the TGA recognises the primary importance of the soil, the secondary importance of plants and the tertiary importance of animals, in that order of priority and that maintaining the habitats in a healthy state is infinitely more important than any consideration of the animals that live within them. We also believe that maintaining overall ecosystem biological diversity is more important than giving preferential management considerations to any individual species (of either plant or animal).
We also believe that tourism has an optimum carrying capacity in any, and all, wildlife sanctuaries.
Over-developed tourism is just as destructive of a sanctuary’s values as is the maintenance of too many elephants or uncontrolled veld fires. It is also imperative for tourism to be constructed only on top of ecosystems which are maintained in a state of ecological equilibrium. When tourism is constructed on top of an unbalanced ecosystem, tourism will collapse when the ecosystem collapses, as all unstable ecosystems surely will.
The above are all management principles that support government programmes designed to achieve South Africa’s National Conservation Strategy. The TGA, therefore, supports the laws and the regulations implemented by South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF).
Also, tourism cannot replace science-based wildlife management action, which is what many animal rights-orientated tourism operators have suggested. Neither can wildlife management practices be decided by way of public referendums (such as public-opinion petitions).
For example the 250 000 signature petition mentioned by Elise Tempelhoff.
Nothing can – or must ever – replace scientific fact as the guiding principle governing wildlife management programmes. Practical experience, in applying wildlife management programmes, is equally important.
In the modern day and age, there are two kinds of people who get involved in the wildlife management debate:
There are those people who live an urban lifestyle – the Walt Disney nature lovers – who are completely detached from the realities of wildlife. They believe that man has no right whatsoever to ‘use’ an animal for his own benefit; and that all animals have the same basic rights as those that human beings enjoy. These people purport not to eat meat and they tell the world that they subsist solely on a vegetable diet. We call these people ‘animal rightists’, or ‘animal rights-activists’. (An activist is someone who campaigns to bring about political or social change). These are people whose beliefs and activities are determined solely by personal preference opinions, by an apparent great emotion towards wild animals, by no understanding whatsoever of the vital role that habitats play in natural ecosystem balances, and by blindly supporting the stated objectives of whatever their social cult gurus prescribe.
(A cult is a body of people that is characterised by a shared commitment to a charismatic leader; or to some great or excessive devotion to a false and not understood ideology, idea or ‘thing’). Members of cults, therefore, must surely be amongst the most gullible of people on planet earth; and
There are those people who believe that man does have the right to use animals for his own benefit, provided such use is sustainable and humane. We call these people (and I am one of them) ‘animal pragmatists’; and they practice wildlife management solely according to scientific facts. They also recognise, inter alia, that man evolved as a hunter-gatherer and that he retains all the natural instincts and the physiological characteristics of an omnivore (someone who eats both meat and plants); and omnivores are not biologically designed to be solely vegetarians. Among other things, real animal pragmatists adhere to a philosophical doctrine that interprets any, and all, wildlife management assertions solely in accordance with their practical bearing upon human interests.
Using the labels ‘animal rightist’ (A/R) and ‘animal pragmatist’ (A/P) allows us to conveniently compartmentalise these two polarised and opposing forces. A/Rs reject the idea that scientific fact (the biological truth), derived from ecological study, should be the sole factor which determines the way man should manage wild animal populations. The A/Ps, however, believe that wild animals can be managed in no other way.
To analogise the TGA’s thought processes about the A/R’s and the wildlife debate, I have to ask the South African public to consider this: If they were the Minister of Social Development, who would they NOT invite to a conference the purpose of which was to debate resolutions to the problem of abuse against women and children? Would not your exclusions include all known paedophiles and convicted serial rapists? And why? You would not invite paedophiles and rapists because they are the very people who caused the problem of abuse against women and children in the first place; and you could not expect them to contribute anything positive towards the required solutions.
And every honest South African would support the Minister of Social Development in her decision in this respect! And they would consider her decision to reflect good governance.
Now reflect on this: If you were the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries, who would you NOT invite to a conference the purpose of which was to debate improvements to the hunting and trophy hunting regulations in South Africa; or to game ranch management operations; or to consider the justification for withdrawing all lion-bone export-quotas in the Captive Breeding of Lion (CBL) Industry; or granting permission to rhino farmers to sell horns derived from their F2 generation rhino herds? You would purposefully NOT invite individuals who are self-confessed A/Rs (locals and foreigners); you would purposefully NOT invite any A/R NGO (local or foreign); and you would purposefully exclude anyone who has any kind of connection to A/R people and A/R NGOs, anywhere. And you would exclude them for exactly the same reasons that the Minister of Social Development would exclude paedophiles and rapists from her debates.
The A/Rs are ‘the paedophiles’ of the South African Wildlife Industry!
And you know what? All responsible, nature-loving, and intelligent South Africans would praise the DEFF Minister for her perspicacity in making this decision. And they would consider that her bold exclusion of all A/Rs from her debates as being an act reflecting good governance.
There are some ANC government ministers who have made it known that they will act on controversial matters within their portfolios, according to how they believe their constituents would want them to vote on those matters. THAT is NOT necessarily good governance. Good governance happens when government ministers, after due reflection, make the right decisions on controversial matters in their portfolios, even when those decisions are NOT what their constituents want to hear. And real good governance becomes manifest when the Minister goes back to her constituents and explains to them WHY the decisions that she made were the right ones. That, after all, is why she was appointed a Minister of State in the first place.
To get back to Elise Tempelhoff, the TGA assesses her to be a died-in-the-wool animal rightist. And there is nothing that we can say to her that will sway her viewpoint toward any other persuasion. In that respect, most other animal rightists in this country are cast in the same mould. We consider her to be a TGA CODE-RED personality which means, simply: We acknowledge her existence; we consider her to be a very dangerous person when she pontificates her fanatical animal rights beliefs into the public domain; and her TGA CODE-RED branding identifies her being one of those south African activists who should be denied all access to official wildlife management debates.
Regarding the four points Ms Tempelhoff highlighted in her letter, I respond as follows:”
“I have no idea who you are, but I know that you are pro-trophy-hunting and it seems pro-canned lions too.”
Am I a trophy hunter? No! I am not. And I never have been.
Am I a hunter? Not anymore! But I used to be a very avid hunter.
Am I pro-trophy hunting? Yes, I am. Very much so. And I am prepared to defend that attitude in all public forums. I will also, however, hazard a guess and say that Ms Tempelhoff hasn’t a clue about just what trophy hunting is all about; and that she has taken up the animal rightists’ ‘I hate trophy hunting’ mantra because she is a good foot soldier in her crazy A/R cult. And that that fact is a measure of her simple gullibility.
Am I ‘pro-canned lion hunting’? No, I am not. And I never have been. Tempelhoff, however, ought to get with it. ‘Canned lion hunting’ is the practice of shooting a captive-bred lion that is contained inside a tiny fenced-enclosure (often with the lion being shot by a shooter through the fence.) Canned lion hunting has been outlawed for many years in South Africa. It is now illegal to even offer canned lion hunts to shooters under any circumstances. So, why does she keeping regurgitating this fallacy?
Am I in favour of hunters being allowed to shoot mature captive-bred-lions in well vegetated habitats inside 10 000-hectare enclosures? Yes, I am. But I must admit that this adventure is far too young for anyone to pass a completely positive opinion on this practice. It is also far too young an adventure for anyone (including Ms Tempelhoff) to pass a negative judgement on the practice either. And I must point out that I doubt any of those A/Rs that are so virulently opposed to this practice, have any practical lion hunting experience to compare a wild lion hunt with a captive-bred lion hunt. So, their complaints have no real substance!
I also believe that shooting a wild lion (that has been enticed onto a bait) from a hide, is less ethical (If have to use that much abused and nonsensical word) than tracking-down-and-hunting-on-foot a relatively free-ranging captive-bred lion inside a 10 000 hectare hunting enclosure. Furthermore, under these comparative conditions, I believe that hunting the captive-bred lion is infinitively more dangerous to the hunter, which, in my book, should make the hunting of a captive-bred lion more attractive, and more acceptable, than shooting a wild lion. But let’s get one thing straight: The A/R’s are opposed to all hunting! The inference that they are opposed to so-called “canned” lion hunting and that that means they approve of wild lion hunting, is not true.
Ms Tempelhoff states: ‘I have been to numerous lion breeding farms. I am therefore informed when I write about this industry.’
I have checked with the President of the South African Predator Association to determine if Ms Tempelhoff has ever visited one of the association’s captive lion breeding farms and they have no record of any such visit. So, she either has a grand imagination or she is lying. Nevertheless, I distinctly heard her mention (in her telephonic conversation with Ms. Britz), that she had been to four lion breeding farms. Even if that is true, however, they were certainly not SAPA registered lion breeding farms, which means they were probably small and unlicenced establishments. And it is these farms that SAPA is trying to disband; because it is the unethical practices being carried out on these farms that is bringing the Captive-Breeding of Lions Industry (CBL) into disrepute.
Even if she did visit four small lion farms, four such visits could be hurriedly concluded inside one day’s journey. And that does not give Tempelhoff any right to state that she is ‘informed when I write about this industry.’ She is, without doubt, totally UN-informed about this industry. All she is qualified to do, is to inform the world about her personal preference prejudices which do not contribute, in any way, to an honest debate about the industry.
By comparison, Ms Britz and I spend the whole month of June 2018 – as guests of SAPA and the lion farmers investigating a whole host of lion breeding farms and related facilities in the Free State, North-West Province and the Limpopo Province. Since then, I have read a pile of scientific literature on the entire CBL Industry in South Africa. In addition to that, I spent 30 years of my life living and working in Rhodesian national parks and, as a game ranger, in the Zambezi Valley, during which time I hunted and killed, as part of my duties, many stock-killing lions, including six man-eaters. Ms Tempelhoff’s experiences, therefore, are not in any way comparable.
The TGA’s report, at the end of our CBL survey, stated that Ms Britz and I could find no reason to condemn South Africa’s Captive Breeding of Lions Industry, which the TGA considers has a great deal of beneficial potential. So, TGA condoned it – good points and bad points – and we recommended that the DEFF Minister should nurture this industry into an acceptable maturity.
Ms Tempelhoff’s personal condemnation of the CBL industry, therefore, has no material backing and it is of no consequence. It is merely a statement that tells the world about her personal preference prejudices towards this industry, which she is entitled to nurture.
Ms Tempelhoff advises me that she is sending a petition to the President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, with 250 000 A/R signatures, to demand that the Captive Breeding of Lion Industry in South Africa be closed down. If he is the kind of president that I think he is, he will take no notice of Ms Tempelhoff’s petition. He is still very busy sorting out the complicated aftermath of the attempted state take-over of South Africa by the Gupta family, to even remotely want to even think of handing over the nation’s valuable wildlife resources to the fanatical cult of Animal Rights-ism which, arguably, represents an international organised crime business that is just as bad as the Gupta experience. If he did so, he would be jumping from the boiling pot into the fire.
Ron Thomson. CEO – The True Green Alliance.