The Dallas Safari Club, one of the largest trophy hunting organizations has come out strongly against captive-bred lion hunting, otherwise known as ‘canned’ lion hunting as unethical and not contributing to the conservation of wild lions.
Captive-bred lion hunting is legal in South Africa despite reservations from many trophy hunters and conservationists. In November last year, the Professional Hunting Association of South Africa (PHASA) controversially reversed its previous policy against hunting of captive bred lion and approved the hunting of captive bred lions as a legitimate form of hunting. The South African Department of Environmental Affairs believes trophy hunting captive-bred lions helps toward the conservation of wild lions by deflecting trophy hunters away from vulnerable wild populations.
However, in a statement on Friday, the Dallas Safari Club (DSC) said that “to date there is no evidence or scientific research to suggest that captive bred lion hunting contributes to the conservation of wild lion,” noting that “they have a responsibility to support and encourage ethical hunting practices, even where ethical practices do not align with what is legally permitted.”
The organization’s biggest concern is that the practice of shooting captive lions completely disregards one of the fundamental concepts of hunting, namely the fair-chase. The DSC statement said: “After a thorough analysis and deliberation, the Board of Dallas Safari Club has concluded that the practice of captive bred lion hunting is not a practice that is in keeping with its values of ethical and fair chase hunting.”
Concluding in the clearest terms: “Therefore, the Dallas Safari Club does not support the practice of captive bred lion hunting.”
The Dallas Safari Club are not the only organization to voice concern over South Africa’s canned hunting practices. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the federal agency responsible for issuing import permits for importation of hunting trophies , does not allow the import of captive-bred lion trophies from South Africa, while the African Professional Hunter’s Association (APHA) in Tanzania and the Operators and Professional Hunting Associations of Africa (OPHAA) were both appalled by PHASA’s decision to support canned hunting. OPHAA have gone so far as to suspend PHASA’s membership.
It seems then that PHASA are increasingly isolated with their stance. Conservationists have welcomed the announcement by the Dallas Safari Club. Kelly Marnewick, Senior Trade Officer of the Wildlife in Trade program at the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) said: “After PHASA’s change in their constitution to allow canned hunting where they lost a lot of members as well as international credibility, it’s encouraging to see ethical hunting organizations coming out strongly against the practice.” Marnewick said the DSC statement shows there is a definite trend back towards more traditional hunting practices rather the “quick and easy fix that we’ve seen from some trophy hunters recently.”
Other concerns are the removing of lion cubs from their mothers at just a few weeks for the cub petting industry and the ill management of sub adult lions for walking-with-lion experiences.
Another contentious issue is the legal selling of captive-bred lion bones to Asia once a lion has been shot.
“We urge the DEA and the few remaining South African operators that still support captive/canned predator hunting to take note of the statements wording,” says Ian Michler, creator of the film Blood Lions, “we also call on Dallas Safari Club to ensure the enforcement of their stand, and all hunting organizations, including Safari Club International (SCI) to push for an end to captive or canned predator hunting. A significant step in this regard would be to prohibit known captive predator breeders and hunters from exhibiting at hunting conventions around the world.”