WATCH: Ramaphosa accused of profiting from breeding and selling animals for trophy hunting
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Cape Town – President Cyril Ramaphosa has been accused of breeding and selling animals to be shot and killed from his Phala Phala wildlife breeding operation.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a non-profit American animal rights organisation, said in a statement on Friday a secret investigation revealed that Ramaphosa also owns a stake in a hunting company called Tsala Hunting Safaris.
PETA, which opposes the view that animals are nothing more than trophies or commodities, claims Ramaphosa and his employees have gone to great lengths to conceal his trophy hunting ties to this ’’colonial blood sport’’ from the public.
No permits to hunt leopards are issued by environmental authorities in South Africa, but Tsala Hunting Safaris still organises leopard hunts in Namibia and Mozambique, PETA alleged. Tsala also arranges hunts for 42 different species, including the ’’Big Five’’, PETA said.
In a statement issued on behalf of the president and Phala Phala on Saturday, the Presidency said the accusations by Peta were “unfounded" and ”patently false“. Read more here.
'’PETA has exposed, through a secret investigation, that President Cyril Ramaphosa not only breeds and sells animals to be shot and killed from his Phala Phala wildlife breeding operation but also owns stake in a hunting company called Tsala Hunting Safaris,“ the statement read.
’’That company conducts many of its hunts on a property called Diepdrift, which Ramaphosa owns and is quietly developing and expanding. There, as well as on partner properties, Tsala can arrange hunts of 42 different species, including the ’Big Five’: leopards, elephants, lions, rhinoceroses, and buffalo.
’’Ramaphosa and his employees have gone to great lengths to conceal his trophy hunting ties from the public. PETA US recorded conversations in which his managers, Hendrik Von Wielligh and Rouan Nel, admit that he shares equally in the profits from all hunts conducted through Tsala and spoke of the importance of concealing his involvement.
’’One said, ’We try to keep the president's name actually out of the hunting thing because … of all the greenies …. So he wanna spare himself this, how can I say, bad publicity and all of that. So … we gotta do it under a different name brand, where none of my name or his name are connected to it …. So that's why we will keep always Phala Phala and Diepdrift and Tsala Safaris sort of separate from our Phala Phala brand.’’
PETA senior vice-president of International Campaigns Jason Baker said: ’’The secrecy surrounding President Cyril Ramaphosa’s investment in trophy hunting operations, fed by his breeding operation, speaks to the immorality and unsustainability of this colonial blood sport.
’’South Africans should be aware that the president is directly profiting from the hunting of the country's most revered and iconic species.
’’In South Africa, animals – including elephants – can wander out of an unfenced national park where they're protected and be shot as soon as they cross that invisible boundary.
’’PETA is campaigning for all trophy hunting to be banned – including hunting of the ’Big Five’ – and calling for it to be stopped at least on properties around parks, where hunting and tourist guides communicate with each other in order to prevent tourists from seeing recent kills.
’’It’s a total scam: tourists may think their money is helping animals, but the ’protected’ animals they saw on their safari might be killed the very next day.’’
In 2018, Ramaphosa sold a buffalo for R4.1 million at the Stud Game Breeders auction in Limpopo, with two others fetching R5.9 million combined.