March 26, 2007
LONDON — New polling data from South Africa unequivocally confirms national support for banning so-called canned hunts, where customers pay huge sums to slaughter captive bred lions confined in enclosures. An impressive 60% of respondents agreed that the Government of South Africa should ban the hunting of captive bred and confined wildlife. Conclusive support for the ban was expressed by individuals regardless of age, race, gender, or where the respondents live.
“Data like this doesn’t lie,” declared Will Travers, CEO of the UK based Born Free Foundation. “Three-fifths of South Africans polled support a ban on canned hunts with four times as many people strongly agreeing with a ban than strongly disagreeing. The question now remains: will the South African government respond and rigorously enforce a national canned hunting ban?”
In February 2007, South Africa issued new regulations pertaining to canned hunting. “Despite government claims, the new regulations by no means outlaw this practice. They simply redefine what is meant by ‘canned hunting,'” said Teresa Telecky, Ph.D., program director for wildlife trade for Humane Society International.
The independent research, undertaken by well respected ICM Research, was commissioned by an international ‘End Canned Hunting’ coalition* in response to the South African government’s decision to issue new regulatory standards with respect to hunting animals such as lions in “canned hunt” operations. These new standards, however, fall short of instituting a blanket ban on canned hunts, allowing shooting of captive animals provided they have been free-living in an enclosure for 24 months at which point they are considered ‘rewilded’. Unfortunately the new regulations provide no suitable definitions for the terms rewilded or free-living, and do not establish a minimum size for enclosures. Such significant omissions leave the regulations open to exploitation.
“We remain gravely concerned that the regulations do not consider the reality of canned hunting in South Africa and contain serious loopholes that will be exploited by unscrupulous hunters,” Travers continued. The regulations would allow unfettered hunting of nuisance animals, hybrid species, and would even allow hunting in protected areas.
Further, the regulations fail to address in any way the welfare of the animals currently held in captivity for the purpose of canned hunting. Breeders have threatened to kill animals indiscriminately in response to the new rules. ICM Research’s polling, which sampled more than a thousand people from seven South African cities, determined that South Africans have definitive ideas about what should happen to captive bred wildlife after any hunting ban comes into effect. Nearly half of those polled felt that the government should take responsibility for these animals. “The South African government, particularly in the post-apartheid era, allowed this disgraceful industry to flourish and actively encouraged it. It therefore must bear the responsibility of establishing and providing funding towards a Lion Trust to ensure that the welfare needs of the animals affected by this industry and the new regulations are addressed” said Michele Pickover, spokesperson for Animal Rights Africa.
The coalition is calling on the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, to clarify the practical implications of their proposed regulations. The thousands of lions currently held in canned hunting facilities must be dealt with humanely and represent a challenge that the Government of South Africa must address responsibly.
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*Groups include: Animal Rights Africa, Born Free Foundation, Born Free USA, Humane Society International, Humane Society of the United States, San Wild, Animal Welfare Institute, Legal Alliance for Animal Welfare.
Additional information available on the Born Free Foundation website at http://www.bornfree.org.uk/campaigns/further-activities/canned-hunting/ and http://www.endcannedhunting.org/.
Background information also available from Penny Morris, Born Free Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org.