PHASA to defend captive-bred lion resolution

The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) is to defend its position on captive-bred lion hunting and breeding in the Pretoria High Court on 22 November.

Ironically, the court date coincides with the association’s 39th annual general meeting (AGM) to be held from 21 to 23 November this year.

A year ago, the majority of members voted in favour of the association’s resolution to distance itself from captive-bred lion (CBL) hunting and breeding until such time as the South African Predators Association (SAPA) could convince PHASA and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) of the conservation value of captive-bred lions.

Today, PHASA’s CBL resolution still stands; SAPA has failed to prove the above.

“Members engaging in CBL activities would be in direct violation of PHASA’s constitution, and would face an internal disciplinary hearing, which will end in dismissal if found guilty,” explains PHASA President, Stan Burger.

Why go to court?

Some PHASA members who wish to continue hunting CBL, and had their membership of PHASA suspended by the executive committee, have challenged their suspensions and the resolution taken at the 2015 AGM by approaching the court.

“PHASA stands by its resolution to distance itself from captive-bred lion hunting and breeding, and will defend its CBL resolution in court,” says Burger

PHASA’s concerns

“PHASA’s concern is rooted in the fact that the prevailing view amongst carnivore specialists, is that “the breeding of lions in captivity does not contribute to the conservation of the species,” notes Burger.

The above-mentioned view is shared by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the IUCN, the US Fish & Wildlife Services (USFWS), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and many more, including local hunting associations and many prominent international hunting associations (and hunters) across the globe.

The mere adherence to the minimum national and provincial legislative requirements of our country and/or the SAPA norms and accreditation process does not lend CBL shooting any credibility nor give it any social license. “No activity that is not socially acceptable is sustainable,” adds Burger.

“Captive-bred lion breeding and shooting does not uphold the moral principle that justifies responsible, ethical and legal hunting of wild lion (where the conservation value of hunting has been scientifically proven time and again) under the conditions of Fair Chase. For this reason, it is ethically indefensible and we will not support it,” says Burger.

Blood Lions named Best Documentary at oldest global environmental film festival

Cape Town – The highly controversial canned lion documentary Blood Lions has been named the ‘Best Documentary feature film’ at the 23rd International Environmental Film Festival (FICMA), recently held in Barcelona, Spain.

And to add to the prestige of the international recognition, the Festival Internacional de Cine del Medio Ambiente is the oldest International environmental film festival in the world.

Pippa Hankinson, producer of the Blood Lions film says she is “immensely honoured and proud to accept the special award” on behalf of the entire Blood Lions team.

The award serves as a beacon of hope in a conservation journey that has been plagued with backlash in the canned lion hunting industry over the past year. Although there has been great victories, such as various global  airlines’ banning the transport of lion trophies, and the US’s ban recent bans on captive-bred lion trophies, the victories came at a great cost of captive lion populations’ lives and their livelihoods.

The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (Phasa) earlier this year also took a stand against captive lion breeding, when its executive committee suspended the membership of those who continued hunting captive bred lions.

Phasa said it was willing to go to the Pretoria High Court to defend its decision regarding the hunting of lions bred in captivity,  after the suspended members have legally challenged their suspensions.

Blood Lions commented on the matter saying, “it is clear from the respective stands being taken between PHASA and South African Predators Association (SAPA) that the lines are being drawn on two key aspects: ethics and the contribution, or lack thereof, that breeding lions for canned hunts makes to conservation.

“Blood Lions commends PHASA for being prepared to defend their stance in court against expelled members, most of whom it would seem have now joined SAPA. Shooting captive reared lions in enclosed areas can never be regarded as ethical, and the entire recognised conservation community has stated there is no conservation benefit to breeding lions in captivity.”

Many conservation efforts to ban captive lion breeding and hunting came about after the airing or extensive global media coverage of the Blood Lions documentary.

Blood Lions is a feature documentary that exposes the captive lion breeding and canned hunting industry in South Africa.

It is estimated that approximately 1 000 captive-bred, hand-reared lions were killed in the country in 2015, fuelling a multi-million-dollar international industry.

A lot has been done since the first screening of the film to ban captive lion breeding, but at the most recent Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), canned lions’ fate were sealed: Global trade in the bones, claws and teeth of wild lions was imposed with exemptions for those harvested from captive-bred lions in South Africa.

In the wake of this decision, Blood Lions made it clear that they will continue their campaign to end the captive bred lion industry and trading of lion products for good.

FICMA Director Jaume Gil I Llopart thanked the Blood Lions team for participating in the festival and for making their hard-hitting film. He says the documentary comes at a much needed time in the global context of conservation.

“Thanks for putting in the forefront a story that, too often, goes unnoticed in the mass media, such as the business of hunting for emblematic animal species,” he thanked the Blood Lions team.