Two SA hunting organisations expelled over canned lion hunts

Lion cubs bred in captivity. Picture: Audrey Delsink

Lion cubs bred in captivity. Picture: Audrey Delsink

Published May 10, 2018


Two South African hunting associations that embrace canned lion hunting have lost an appeal to retain their membership to Europe's top hunting organisation, and have been thrown out of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation for breach of policy.

The decision was taken by the international council's general assembly in Madrid.

The expulsion of the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA) and Confederation of Hunting Associations of South Africa (CHASA) is considered the strongest rejection of South Africa’s hunting policies, as well as of bodies which support canned lion or captive-bred lion shooting operations which are widely regarded as unethical and unsportsmanlike.

The expulsion follows a policy reversal by the two hunting bodies in November last year to support the captive lion hunting industry, and permit membership of their organisations by persons who engage in the practice of captive bred lion shooting. This is despite the fact that in 2015, PHASA members voted unanimously to reject captive lion hunts at the body’s AGM in Polokwane.

Tamás Marghescu, Director General of the International Council said that “both organisations had exercised their rights of appeal in accordance with the statutes, but failed in their bid to be reinstated. At the 65th General Assembly held in Madrid on May 4, an appeal was heard concerning the decision by the executive committee to expel the two organisations. The members decided by 114 votes to 3 that the organisations were in breach of policies and the expulsion was confirmed. There were 9 abstentions.” 

In September 2016 the executive committee of International Council adopted the International Union for Conservation of Nature 13 which called on the South African government to terminate the hunting of captive-bred lions.

Since PHASA’s 2017 AGM in November, the world’s leading hunting institutions have moved to distance themselves from the organisation and the canned lion hunting industry, which continues to tarnish South Africa’s conservation reputation.

The decision to expel to expel the two organisations was widely welcomed by representatives of prominent African hunting bodies and organisations.

Danene Van der Westhuyzen chairperson of the Operators and Professional Hunters Associations of Africa and vice president of the Namibian Professional Hunters Association said both organisations supported and applauded the decision. "It shows a movement towards unity, but even more so, that hunters condemn any such unethical practices.” 

Custodians of Professional Hunting South Africa president Stewart Dorrington said: “The decision is not surprising. The International Council has always emphasised ethics and sportsmanship in hunting and are very conservation minded. Anybody who supports the captive bred lion industry in this day and age, will continue to isolate themselves from the world and their allies.

“The lion industry may be economically sustainable but is is not socially sustainable. The public will not tolerate it and will mobilise to close it down.

The South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association president, Gerhard Verdoorn, said: “The past two years have been an awakening for all hunters to return to the principles of hunting, namely the fair chase of a wild animal in its wild state and in its natural environment. Shooting captive bred lions, often in appalling conditions, simply don’t satisfy these criteria."

Several unsuccessful attempts were made to contact Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa exco members for comment.

Meanwhile, the Brandfort lion breeding farm and slaughter-house discovered by the Free State SPCA last week, belongs to a former SA Predator Association council member Andre Steyn.

The gruesome discovery of at least 54 dead lions and a further 260 plus lions in captive conditions at Steyn’s farm, Wag n Bietjie, last week, sparked public rage over lions and tigers that are bred for the bullet and skinned for their bones for export to South East Asia’s widely unregulated medicine markets and wildlife body-parts trade.

- Story from The Conservation Action trust. See

The Independent on Saturday

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