M van Schalkwyk: Professional Hunters Association annual general

Speech by Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Environmental
Affairs and Tourism at the Annual General Meeting of the Professional Hunters
Association of South Africa (PHASA)

20 November 2007


In 2004 when I was appointed as Minister, there were a number of people who
were surprised and uneasy with my decision to accept an invitation to address
your annual event in that year. Some even advised me to decline the invitation
in 2004. Because ethical, responsible hunting and conservation are two sides of
the same coin, it is clear that it was the correct decision.

Although we will not always agree on every matter, I am of the firm belief
that the professional hunting sector has an important partnership role to play
in our approach both to conservation and tourism and I am fully committed to
strengthening and improving the relationship between our department and this

Economic contribution

Game farming and hunting contributes significantly to conservation, tourism
development, job creation and sustainable development in rural areas. It is
integrated with various sectors of the economy. It is an important foreign
currency earner and its contribution to the gross national product is
substantial. I am very optimistic about the future of this industry and the
great potential to further nurture and promote its economic and conservation

The key issue is sustainable utilisation. We are equally determined to
ensure that our laws and international commitments are respected and upheld,
and will not hesitate to act swiftly and harshly against unethical or
irresponsible hunters who overstep or ignore our regulations. In this regard I
want to thank PHASA for the stand it has taken against canned lion hunting and
taking disciplinary action against members who do not adhere to your code of


There are a number of issues we have engaged on with the industry over the
past few years. Regular and structured dialogue between our department and this
sector was a very important issue that was raised at our previous meeting. The
Wildlife Forum has been successfully established to provide for such a dialogue
and it is clear that these interactions are bearing fruit.

Firstly, due to fragmented and in many cases inconsistent provincial
conservation legislation that provided inadequate protection for wildlife, the
need was identified to develop national regulatory framework.
This culminated in the regulations pertaining to Threatened or Protected
Species (TOPS).

In short these regulations aim to:

* address the canned hunting issue, as it explicitly prohibits the hunting
of listed large predators under certain conditions
* address illegal hunting and unethical hunting methods and devices
* provide formal recognition by our department to hunting organizations.

I am aware of the capacity challenges faced by some of the provinces with
regard to permitting and licensing. The turnaround time is an area that PHASA
and the game farmers have raised with me. I will discuss this challenge with
the MECs responsible for environment. The implementation of these regulations
will be the first step of a two-step process to clean up the hunting and game
farming industry. The next step will be to promote even greater uniformity with
regard to elements of the hunting industry. We will introduce national norms
and standards that provide a framework for provincial regulation and further
streamline permitting. This will also be developed in close consultation with
the industry, provincial authorities and other stakeholders. We will make it
easier for you to operate as industry. We will ensure that the same rules and
standards will apply to everyone equally and we will strengthen government’s
hand to ensure compliance and enforcement. This will root out those rogue
elements that give the whole industry a bad name.

Secondly, the consultative process on these norms and standards will aim

* search for best practices or minimum standards pertaining to hunting that
need to be adhered to
* standardise conditions under which permits may be or must be issued by
provincial conservation authorities and requirements in terms of equipment to
be used
* further explore models for self regulation in the hunting industry.

I know that some of your members may have interests in the elephant safari
industry. I also want to address you as ethically and responsible game farmers
and hunters today. I am aware of the current debate on alleged cruelty
inflicted on elephants in captivity. I made the following commitment when I
published the draft norms and standards for elephant management in February
this year.

"I also insist, however, that the management of our natural resources should
be conducted ethically, humanely and rationally. Wilful cruelty to animals must
be condemned and avoided at all costs. The Digital Nervous System (DNS), I
believe, is a well balanced document that addresses the interests and welfare
of elephants in equal measure to the options for controlling elephant

Words have meaning. These were not just words on paper. They constituted a
firm commitment. Some of the allegations conveyed to me about the captive
elephant industry points to the possible existence of totally unacceptable
practices. I am personally determined to get to the bottom of it. I want to
assure you today that government will crack down on any cruelty and will
effectively regulate the environment of elephants in captivity, whether that is
done by our department, the department of agriculture or on the basis of an
arrangement between us. For us this is a serious and urgent issue.


It is encouraging to note that PHASA has itself identified transformation
and empowerment as issues of concern. Our department is engaging with the
industry to develop a BEE Score Card in an effort to transform the industry. As
a department we always prefer industry-led transformation. Regulation is always
a last resort but it will be applied if a sector does not demonstrate the will
for real and lasting change.

There are so many opportunities for black economic empowerment (BEE)
partnerships with communities living on communal land adjacent to game farms,
with communities who have had suitable land resituated to them and also with
small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) and entrepreneurs especially in
tourism. The training of emerging professional hunters is an area in which
PHASA has already been active.

I want to acknowledge the R700 000 that was raised earlier this year through
the African Wildlife Heritage Gala Dinner for training black students.
Transformation and empowerment goes beyond ownership, management, employment
and skills. Professional Hunting will only truly be embraced by all South
African communities when clients from these communities are also developed – a
longer-term challenge for PHASA.


In conclusion, commercial game farming and professional hunting has a key
role to play in nature conservation and tourism in South Africa. I am aware
that quite a number of species were effectively saved from extinction by
private landowners and professional hunting sustains jobs and brings
much-needed revenue into some of our most depressed areas.
Over the past three years I have appreciated our working relationship with this
industry. It has been a vibrant and robust interaction as we jointly came to
grips with a number of issues, including the interpretation of societal values
on ethics in the hunting industry and giving practical content to sustainable
use. Together we have changed much in the last three years and I can assure you
that we will look back on many more changes by 2010.

We should not shy away from a robust debate over the next few years as
government continues to shape the regulatory environment and industry continues
to ask how they could flourish in a responsible and sustainable way within that
regulatory framework.

From the side of government be assured of my support for the sector and for
your efforts, but always remember the importance of partnership in this
I wish you the very best for the rest of the conference. I am looking forward
to further engagements with this industry.

I thank you.

Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs
20 November 2007
Source: Department of Environmental Affairs (http://www.deat.gov.za)

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