Tiger-Bone Wine

This is an excerpt from an article published online by WildTrust

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has an ancient and multifaceted heritage that goes back thousands of years and is linked to Taoist and Buddhist philosophies.

Practices such as acupuncture, massage, dietary plans, and breathing and meditation regimes are integral to TCM, and it also comprises over 800 recognised herbal and other medicinal treatments. Based on the holistic notion that humans are intimately linked to their surroundings, these treatments are traditionally mixed from natural components − plant, mineral and animal products.

In many instances, the cures and remedies are made from animal body parts and require that the animal be killed. A number of the species used to make these medicines are now listed as threatened or endangered and, in the case of the most high-profile animals, they have become major international conservation issues.

Rhinos, tigers, sharks, musk deer, bears, buffaloes and seahorses are all well-known examples of animals that are killed for such purposes. It is in this context that TCM has acquired its somewhat tarnished reputation, particularly as the efficacy of many of its treatments is in doubt or has been disproved.

Read More: http://wildtrust.co.za/tiger-bone-wine/

Canning Canned Hunting

At long last South Africa has an updated set of regulations in place that should begin to shape a clampdown on canned hunting and the captive breeding of large predators.

Effective from 1 June 2007, the regulations came after three years of consultation between the government and various private-sector wildlife management bodies and animal welfare groups.

The process culminated in February this year with the publication of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act 10 of 2004): Threatened or Protected Species Regulations (www.environment.gov.za).

The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, and all involved, including the panel of experts appointed by him to provide the crucial recommendations, must be congratulated for this work. But it is shameful that it came more than a decade after the airing of the Cooke Report, which was the nation’s introduction to the horrors being carried out by a sector of the hunting industry.

The responsibility for the time lag between exposure and action lies with previous Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism administrations, various constituencies within the wildlife management community and the hunting industry (including international bodies), and is indicative of their strong resistance. Their efforts to protect their interests continue and we should not fool ourselves that we have managed to rid the country of anything as yet. Minister van Schalkwyk’s work is only the first small step in what will be a long process, requiring much vigilance.

I would have liked the government to publish a blueprint for the implementation of these regulations, but now that they are in place, what comes next?

Firstly, it is highly likely that those affected, particularly the breeders, will instigate some sort of legal challenge.

It is ironic that after seven years of unsuccessful attempts to get an industry representative to comment on their practices and give information on member numbers (there were always denials at every turn about the existence of any representative grouping at any level), suddenly there is a very well-organised body, known as the South African Predator Breeders Association.

Now the predator breeders’ fears of scorn and detection have been replaced by panicky cries trumpeting their cause, a case based predominantly on the alleged contributions the industry makes to the economy. I wonder whether the Receiver of Revenue has shown any interest in this sudden desire for recognition and transparency, and whether its attention will extend to the past tax contributions of the association’s new-found membership.

I cannot comment on the merits or otherwise of any legal case that may arise, but I hope that the constitution does not defend the right to make a living without regard for the circumstances.

Secondly, and assuming the minister’s regulations remain law, it is highly likely that wildlife agencies will have to deal with the plight of thousands of unwanted predators (possibly as many as 3 000 or more). I have no doubt that some operators are shooting lions for whatever price they can get, while breeders are probably trying to flog their prime breeding stock or will simply stop feeding their animals, and photographic game farms will get hold of as many white lions as they can. This will still leave the majority of the caged animals to be dealt with. Government has made little or no provision for this eventuality, so the principal responsibility will have to lie with the private sector – conservation agencies, vets, animal welfare groups, donors and private landowners.

Solutions range from euthanasia to animals being placed in the care of donor-funded sanctuaries.

And lastly, if regional cross-border cooperation to eradicate these practices is not on the agenda, then our neighbours will step in to fill the cages emptied in South Africa. Captive breeding and canned hunting are already taking place in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, and it is highly likely that they will start in Zambia and Mozambique in the near future.

It is also worth asking the minister to consider at what stage and by what definition his department considers lion hunting in South Africa to be unsustainable.

In my book, and using the principles and definitions so fondly quoted by the hunting fraternity to support their fun, lion hunting is already unsustainable and should be banned outright. But then I don’t have any vested financial interests.

Back in the Hunt

In an insightful analysis of the dynamics of trophy hunting, Ian McCallum in Ecological Intelligence: Rediscovering Ourselves in Nature, has this to say: ‘It is difficult to argue against the proposition that trophy hunting is more about reinforcing dominance than creating joy, more about approval than creativity, more about aggression than assertion. To me, there is no poetry in trophy hunting. The “special feeling”, because of the absence of play, is one of power, which means that these hunters can never be satisfied – they can never get enough of it. It becomes a habit, and an addictive one at that.’

McCallum’s book comes at a juncture when the trophy hunting industry finds itself under ever-increasing scrutiny, and it adds to the questions being asked about the motivations of these hunters and of the role hunting plays in a society far-removed from one in which the ‘great white hunter’ was sanctioned. It also coincides with developments within hunt-ing and wildlife management forums in both South Africa and East Africa.

In the light of these developments, it’s worth looking again at what lies at the core of the hunting debate. While there are some who seek an outright ban on hunting, neither this magazine nor I have ever called for that. We have simply reported on the abuses and contradictions that take place within the industry, and have facilitated debate on the premise and principles under which it justifies its activities. (It’s worth noting that the industry comprises two parties – the operator or breeder and the hunter or client – each with his own interests and agenda.) In this regard there are two broad categories to consider: the conservation and protection of biodiversity, and the more emotional concerns relating to ethics and philosophy. In many instances they cannot be separated, particularly when control and regulation break down and abuse sets in.

Under the broadly defined banner of sustainable utilisation and the ‘wise use’ principle, hunting is still regarded by many as an acceptable component of South Africa’s wildlife resource management. The uneasy consensus ends here, however, as these terms have been interpreted and applied in very different ways. The result is that while some operators and wild animal breeders conduct their businesses with respect towards wild creatures, others show precious little concern for the animals in their care. And the targets of McCallum’s opening statement, those who are addicted to collecting trophies, are a massive pool of hunters, mostly wealthy people from outside Africa, who pay large sums of money to bag whatever is next on their wish list. In short, the debate concerns an industry that is seemingly less and less about hunting as a form of wildlife management, and more and more about the production and pursuit of trophies at any cost.

This world has long since changed from the one in which trophy or sport hunting was born. Yes, hunting has been around since Man was able to wield a club, but then it helped us to acquire the food and clothing that was key to our evolutionary development. As we moved to a more sedentary life, we started to trade, which stretched the rewards of the hunt beyond filling our need for protein and protection. Skins, tusks, teeth, horns and shells became goods for barter, then a measure of wealth and status. The leap from pot to trophy accelerated with the process of European-dominated colonialism where shooting large numbers of wild animals was accepted as an occupational requirement. In the slaughter that took place, some hunters collected specimens for museums and private natural history collections, but many pursued hunting as a quixotic diversion. This, in essence, spawned what is today a multi-million dollar industry that targets everything from doves to elephants.

And, no matter how you view what took place then, very little remains of that era today. The landscapes no longer teem with wild animals, our relationship with the natural world has fundamentally changed and so too has the romanticised nature of the hunt. It is no longer the animals that are ‘dangerous’, but the hunter, the notion of ‘fair chase’ is fast becoming obsolete and, in the not-too-distant future, so will that of a truly wild animal. And, in a telling twist of fate (the implications of which seem to have bypassed the hunting fraternity), many of the species that remain at the top of the trophy hunter’s wish lists also happen to be potent symbols of conservation and the fight to secure the planet’s biodiversity.

For many people, these misgivings are also based on a high level of mistrust towards the industry, brought about by documented abuses and over-exploitation, and are fed by a perception that the industry is seemingly unwilling or unable to control itself. A lack of transparency in certain organisations and countries (Tanzania, for example), does nothing to alleviate the sentiment.

It is this mistrust that undermines the acceptance of programmes under-taken by hunting bodies in the name of conservation. Initiatives that support certain causes – contributing towards the costs of tracking down the giant sable antelope, breeding game birds and setting aside land – are treated with suspicion because the perception is that hunters want these species to remain or be placed on the trophy list, and are simply engineering more wilderness in which to hunt. While to some the distinction between conserving for biodiversity and conserving for trophies may be subtle, in the field the ramifications of this distinction are grossly apparent.

The sector in which they are most evident is South Africa’s canned hunting industry. Regular readers of Africa Geographic will be familiar with its horrors as the magazine has given it extensive coverage. Its future is presently in the hands of a panel, appointed by South Africa’s Minister for Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk. It has been tasked with advising him on the formulation of legislation that will control what the minister described as ‘this despicable practice’. This comes after the minister rejected the original draft on the Regulations for the Sustainable Utilisation of Large Predators because it ‘did not go far enough to remove this cancer from our society’.

As these issues are still being debated, the arguments against the industry are worth repeating. While the act of a canned hunt is abhor-rent, even more disturbing are the indefensible breeding and management practices carried out by many of those who supply the animals. These include the cross-breeding of species (lions with tigers) and sub-species (blesbok with bontebok), repetitive in-breeding for sought-after genetic strains (white lion) and forced breeding against natural biological cycles (removing week-old cubs from lionesses to induce another cycle).

Animals are drugged and moved across veterinary boundaries, species are introduced into areas far removed from their natural environments and are even stolen from national parks for their breeding potential. They (particularly predators) are often kept in cages and confined enclosures.

The industry web extends beyond the fences and includes numerous facilitators – the annual auctions, certain vets and relocation companies, and the authorities who issue permits. In summary, these practices have absolutely no bearing on conservation and the protection of biodiversity, and to most people they are immoral and unethical. What is taking place is human over natural selection and has everything to do with exploiting wild animals for financial gain. And it happens because there is a vast market of hunters prepared to pay substantially to obtain animal trophies. I believe that these practices are starting to domesticate wild animals and, at the very least, they contradict all the usual justifications for hunting.

So why are we entertaining a process that seeks to regulate and monitor behaviour as objectionable as this? Surely an outright ban would be more appropriate? Well, there are two likely reasons. Firstly, the industry has been allowed to flourish and form a lobby based on economic factors, especially job creation. Secondly, I believe these practices are tacitly supported by groups within the hunting industry and people in positions of power. The shameful reality is that if people had acted with conviction when they should have, this situation could have been avoided.

Despite statements voicing their disapproval after the Cooke Report first exposed the horrors of canned hunting in 1997, government authorities and pro-fessional hunting bodies have turned a blind eye. This inactivity has allowed canned hunting to establish itself, and today the South African wildlife management community has a monster on its hands that may prove impossible to curb.

But an even worse scenario may lie ahead if any form of acceptance and legalisation through policy imple-mentation is allowed. The canned hunting industry could be the thin edge of a much larger commercialisation wedge. Between outright canned hunting operations and true conservation projects lies much blurred ground.

Landowners who breed wildlife on lands once tilled or stocked with do-mestic species did not always change through conservation convictions, but rather for financial gain. In these instances, the selective breeding of lucrative trophy animals on heavily fenced farms will no doubt benefit the population statistics of those particular species, but will do little to protect biodiversity. Although the conservation flag is flown to ensure public acceptance, some of these farms only breed trophy animals to be shot or sold on auction. Who knows what may transpire when what is now known as the canned hunting industry becomes accepted practice through legislation? One can only hope that the panel takes the nature of commodity markets into their considerations. It is also not far-fetched to speculate that canned hunting will soon make its way to Botswana, Namibia and further north.

Much further north, in Kenya, trophy hunting has been under a moratorium since 1977, imposed by then president Jomo Kenyatta because of widespread abuse and corruption. Most within the industry supported the move at the time, but felt it should have been lifted after a full investigation and a tightening of the laws and controls.

This lobby may finally be successful. In December 2004, a bill was intro-duced into the Kenyan parliament that, among other things, proposed the re-introduction of trophy hunting. Although rejected by President Mwai Kibaki, the bill has been returned to the various role players for further review, a process that continues and has brought new energy to the debate in Kenya.

The arguments for and against a re-introduction are not dissimilar to those in South Africa, but there is one major distinction – at present, wildlife in Kenya cannot be privately owned. There is no doubt that this will become an issue – for the pro-hunting lobby, the financial value lies in being able to claim ownership. For those against trophy hunting, ownership suggests a South African-type scenario, while for the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the body that manages the country’s wildlife resources, it is about ensuring that it is not disenfranchised.

At the moment, opinion among Kenyan stakeholders seems to be evenly split. Pointing to statistics that indicate that Kenya has lost over 50 per cent of its large mammal populations in the past 25 years, those in favour of a re-introduction stress the role hunting would play in increasing the value of wildlife. They believe it is foremost an economic issue, and that economics, with hunting as a major financial contributor, will provide the incentive to protect wild animals. Among these voices, though, are those who are concerned about con-trolling abuses. In its present state, KWS is not seen as a viable protector and there are fears that the industry is not capable of self-regulation.

Those against trophy hunting also fret about the decline in wildlife populations and believe economics to be the major issue, but for very different reasons. For them, gross mismanagement and government corruption over the past two decades have produced inordinately high levels of poverty, which in turn has placed unsustainable human pressures on the wilderness in general.

Pointing to the high poaching levels that drive a thriving bush meat trade and the rate of deforestation, they contend that the government urgently needs to address the socio-economic slide and that protection agencies simply need to do their jobs. For them, the re-introduction of hunting would exacerbate the wildlife decline as any form of legal recognition would blur the poaching–hunting divide.

They also believe that because Kenya no longer has the luxury of large wilder-ness areas, any land that is parcelled into hunting blocs is likely to be over-exploited. Additional concerns include the inevitable increase in fencing if private ownership becomes a reality and, again, abuse and regulation.

Whatever happens in South Africa and Kenya, it is unlikely to alter the momen-tum of growing opposition to trophy hunting. If hunting is to survive on the grounds so passionately put forward by some – that it is primarily a management option and a component of conservation and biodiversity protection – I believe it will have to adapt fundamentally. Again, McCallum has put it most succinctly. ‘The argument is not about human rights, but about the nurturing of an ecological intelligence. It is about trying to show the non-sense of killing for that “special feeling”…’

It is difficult not to draw the con-clusion that the root cause of what is rotten in hunting is the trophy – the lengths to which the hunter will go in order to obtain it and the operator to supply it. On these grounds, I believe a major start can be made by doing away with both the Safari Club International Record Book of Trophy Animals and Rowland Ward’s Records of Big Game. It is interesting that Point Six in the Rowland Ward Code of Conduct for The Guild of Field Sportsmen states: ‘that all forms of competition in the field between Sportsmen whilst hunting and fishing be avoided’. What then is the purpose of these record books?

Regarded as the bibles of hunting, hunters would be hard-pressed to argue that they don’t serve to foster competition by rewarding those who shoot the biggest and the best in the gene pool. One need only page through the advertising section of any hunting magazine to understand the role these books play. Few, if any, are selling hunts on the grounds that they offer trophies of old and infirm animals, whereas many promote themselves on the basis of how many records they hold.

In short, pursuit of these records encourages the abuses carried out by operators, breeders and hunters and, ultimately, alters the gene pool. If hunters hunt for the reasons they say they do, then there is no need to brag and they should not be targeting the prime breeding animals.

If the removal of these record books is not sufficient to curb the abuse, then the next step would be an outright ban on all trophies leaving the shores of Africa. What to do with them? They are part of Africa’s heritage after all, so perhaps they should remain here as non tax-deductible donations to the thousands of schools, colleges, universities and museums across the continent that cannot afford such educational exhibits.

In the ‘Viewpoint’ column in this magazine in March 2003, Ed Reardon, a member of the Delaware Valley Chapter of Safari Club International, USA, wrote: ‘If, in the future, we hunters lose the right to hunt, it will most likely be through our own actions.’ In the same way that the hunting community draws distinctions between canned hunters and ‘fair chase’ hunters, maybe the time has come to draw a more forthright distinction – those who hunt for the trophy and those who don’t. As McCallum says, ‘The hunting of wild animals is learned behaviour … as the context changes, what we have learned can not only become inappropriate, but maladaptive.’ Hunters need to change the way they think.

How The Lid Was Lifted on Canned Lions

In his new book, Gareth Patterson describes for the first time the sting operation that blew the lid off the ‘canned’ lion hunting industry in South Africa

In order to expose the illegal trophy hunting of endangered species and canned lion hunting, the Cook Report team had established a bogus trophy hunting outfitting company called Jackson & Company in Mabeya, Spain. They chose Spain in which to do this as it is a country well known for its trophy hunting culture, as well as its dubious reputation of having hunters lacking in ethics and morals.

Jackson & Company was set up to arrange phoney trophy hunting trips for wealthy clients. In Spain the Cook Report team soon realised that, given enough money, middlemen could arrange for the hunting of literally any endangered species anywhere in the world. Spanish middlemen, they discovered, were offering client hunters opportunities to kill gorilla, tiger and jaguar. In Spain it was also confirmed that South Africa was a favoured destination for canned hunting.

Jackson & Company was also the Cook Report team’s cover in South Africa, with Peter (Salkeld) and Howard (Foster) using a story that they specialised in arranging hunts for clients who were either elderly, unfit or both, and therefore required “easy” hunts.

Based at Crispian (Barlow’s) camp (in Mpumalanga), they infiltrated the Lowveld hunting industry, making it known that they required a canned lion hunt for their extremely wealthy, but unwell, client. Their “client”, in fact, was to be Roger Cook himself, the programme’s veteran investigative journalist and anchorman. They planned to enter and film the sordid and secret world of the canned lion industry, right up to the point when the “client” (Roger) was supposed to pull the trigger and shoot a lion.

They first approached the larger lion breeders in the Hoedspruit area: (Albert) Mostert’s Mokwalo Game Farm, Tshukudu Safaris, run by the Sussens family, and Kapama Safaris, a subsidiary hunting company of Kapama Game Reserve owned by Pretoria businessman Johan Roode.

At Tshukudu they filmed a meeting held with professional hunter Chris Sussens, using the Cook Report team’s miniature spy camera.

Chris Sussens went on record saying: “The only time I can actually guarantee an animal is when it’s going to be like a canned animal, which I don’t like doing. That’s normally not done in this area.” To do a canned hunt, he said, “we have to go towards the Free State where you’ll get the odd operator that has got lions in big camps and you go into them to shoot a lion there. Basically, this camp [enclosure] where the chap has got the lions is about a 20ha camp.”

At Kapama, the Cook Report team were told by the resident professional hunter, Kerth Boehme, their lions allocated to be hunted that year had already been “spoken for”, meaning that their lion hunts were fully booked. He informed the Cook Report team, however, that a lion for a future hunt could be arranged to accommodate their “client”. Boehme was captured on film saying: “He [the client] just has to do a little bit, get the lion to the bait, make a half-hearted attempt to track the damn thing, or just shoot it from a blind [hide],” and that “even the weakest of clients can still be satisfied and still at least have done it, you know, semi- ethically”.

At Mostert’s farm they were told that they were fully booked until September for lion hunting and that a “one-off” lion hunt for the client could not be arranged. Within the hunting industry, a “one-off” lion hunt, which does not involve the hunting of other species as well, is uncommon. Permitting such a hunt means the hunting operator does not earn the substantial daily tariffs and other fees charged for the usual 10- to 14-day hunts. It is a question of profit.

However, to undertake their expos, the Cook Report team did not have the time, inclination nor budget to prolong the facade for the more usual 10- to 14-day hunt and thus were seeking a “one-off”.

After visiting various hunting operations, they were about to return to Tshukudu with their requirements for a canned hunt when Crispian had a chance meeting with a woman who recommended he contact the husband and wife team, Sandy and Tracy McDonald of McDonald Pro Hunting. The woman told Barlow that the McDonalds had recently set up a hunt for a physically disabled Spanish hunter who was confined to a wheelchair.

After hearing this, Peter Salkeld and Crispian went to the Northern Province town of Pietersburg, where the McDonalds were based, to speak to Tracy about a canned lion hunt. Tracy McDonald confirmed that they could guarantee any hunt, regardless of the physical condition of a client, and boasted that their company’s clients had killed over 1 000 wild animals in the past year.

Peter and Crispian asked how lions could be lured and then hunted. Tracy described how: “You just dig a little bit under the fence and leave a little piece of rotten meat on that side and then you drag it with the blood running through and the lion picks up the scent so easily and just comes through [the fence].”

Peter later handed over half of the agreed fee, which was $18 000, as a down payment, with the remaining $9 000 payable on completion of the hunt. This amount, however, would never be given to the McDonalds as no lion would actually be shot by the “client”, Cook.

It was arranged that Simon Trickey, Bruce and Chantal Hamilton and I should meet up with the team at Ibhubezi Lodge on March 21. There we were filmed giving our experiences of the canned lion industry. Simon was forthright and to the point, saying on camera: “Canned lion hunting is like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s unethical, it’s bloody easy and it’s earning a lot of people a lot of money.”

Bruce told of the horror of the hunt he had witnessed at Marlothi when the Dark Lioness was shot in front of her cubs. He said he felt that the South African canned lion industry was totally disgusting and described how already wealthy people were making even more money through canned hunts.

The afternoon spent filming symbolised to me the start of the time when, because we were speaking out and acting against lion hunting, each of our lives would change and never be quite the same again. Bruce, Simon, Crispian, Chantal and I knew that we were exposing a powerful industry, that there could be reprisals once the Cook Report programme had been screened – and possibly before.

Two days after our meeting at Ibhubhezi, the stage was set for the Cook Report team to film and expose canned lion hunting. Roger Cook, the “client”, and the rest of the team were to be collected from the Kings Camp Game Lodge and taken to the area where the hunt would take place. This, it transpired, was to be at Mostert’s farm.

Mostert and McDonald had earlier agreed they would split the $18 000 fee. At the farm, Roger was given instructions by McDonald on how to shoot a lion. This was filmed. The presence of the team’s cameraman did not create suspicion as it is fairly common for clients to bring a camera person with them on hunting safaris to film and produce what can really only be described as a “vanity film” of the client’s exploits.

Using a stuffed lion to illustrate where on the body Roger had to aim when shooting the lion, McDonald said: “Being a [Kruger] Park lion he is not that wary of humans and that sort of stuff which means he is pretty relaxed …” Pointing to the stuffed lion’s shoulder, he told Roger: “We want to break a limb, smoke him there and he will bounce around and go off to die probably.”

As a kind of hunting sales pitch, McDonald was indicating to Roger that the lion about to be hunted was from the Kruger National Park and not a lion which had been kept in captivity for the purpose of hunting.

Seeing Peter and Howard as compatriots, in a common ruse McDonald had earlier been secretly filmed saying: “It’s a canned lion, make no mistake, but it’s a very nice size, but it’s at a bait and going to be fairly easy for him [Roger] to have the first shot at it. What we do is we’ll go to the camp and let your guy have a few shots at a target … from our side it’s all fixed. I’ll keep him happy. I know what to say at the right time and all the rest of it …”

After the “bullet placement” lesson, Roger was taken into the bush where he fired three bullets at a paper target.

At about this time, trouble was beginning to brew just outside the farm. It had been agreed that, once Roger and the others had been collected from Kings Camp, Crispian would return to load up the crew’s luggage for a quick get-away after the hunt.

Prior to this he had also arranged for his friend Hosea (Mokgahla) and two other nature conservation officials to meet him near the Mostert farm once the Cook crew were inside. They were to act as “back-up” should things go wrong. Crispian’s main role after the hunt was to get the videotapes safely away from the farm.

While Roger and the others were inside being prepared for the hunt, Crispian, Hosea and the other men were suddenly confronted by one of Mostert’s sons. He drove up to where they were parked and stopped his vehicle at an angle, which effectively blocked Crispian’s vehicle.

He then went to the other vehicle and took the keys out of the ignition before calling a policeman in Hoedspruit on a cellular phone. This was all happening on a public road – a road open for anyone’s use. To this day, the reason for Mostert’s son’s behaviour remains inexplicable. All I can surmise is that he possibly suspected that Crispian and the others were poachers.

Meanwhile, inside the farm, Roger was in a safari vehicle and being taken on a “pantomime” search for the lion. Knowing that McDonald and the others knew where the lion was, Roger must have thought that their “stop-start” search for the lion’s spoor was ludicrous.

Prior to the hunt, McDonald had confided to Howard and Peter: “I’ve tranquillised it [the lion]. It’s a hell of a nice lion. Nobody will suspect a thing – we do a lot of them.”

The “pantomime” search continued for about half an hour until the lion was sighted. Roger was then told by a whispering McDonald to shoot the lion “where the mane ends”. It was at this point that Roger gave McDonald the greatest surprise of his life by saying: “Let me tell you why I am not going to shoot this lion. It doesn’t stand a chance.”

He proceeded to tell McDonald who he was and what he and his team were actually doing.

McDonald did not at first seem to comprehend what Roger was telling him. He looked utterly confused. He even continued gesturing in the direction of the lion, seemingly still trying to get Roger to shoot the lion. Roger instructed them to turn the vehicle back.

Back at the camp, sparks were about to fly. Crispian, Hosea and the other officials were, at this stage, still being detained by Mostert’s son. After a cellphone conversation with someone inside the farm, Mostert’s son instructed the men not to attempt to escape and to follow him to another gate on the farm, where a rumpus between the Cook Report team and the hunters had erupted. Crispian was happy to do this as it gave him a chance to get close to the team and hopefully retrieve the videotapes and get them safely away.

When they reached the gate he saw many people and some policemen. Almost everyone had firearms. The hunters were demanding the videotapes and had padlocked the farm gate, preventing the team from driving away.

Crispian got out of his vehicle and walked towards the gate to try and talk to Howard and Peter. Crispian recently told me that when Mostert saw him he instructed a man in a kombi to run him down. Gesturing towards Crispian, he told the man, “Ry hom dood,” which, translated, literally means “drive him dead”. The driver attempted to do just that, but Crispian was aware of what was happening and leapt away from the approaching vehicle.

By now Crispian was furious. He confronted one of the policemen and asked why he was not taking action against the driver. Incredibly, the policeman’s response was to ask Crispian why he was there.

Thinking quickly of an excuse to get hold of tapes and get them away, he said: “They [the Cook Report team] owe me money. They have been staying at my camp and I am not leaving here until they pay me for accommodation.”

Hearing this, Peter joined in, saying the banks at the nearest town closed at 3pm and it was imperative he and Crispian be allowed to leave immediately to get to the bank on time. After more negotiating, Mostert reluctantly agreed to unlock the gates and let the Cook Report team out of the farm. With the videotapes in his pockets, Peter got into Crispian’s vehicle and they drove away. Initially they were followed and had to double back and take a side road to shake off the trailing vehicle.

As Roger, Howard and the cameraman left the farm, they were told by the hunters that their canned lion would survive only until the next wealthy foreigner arrived and paid to take his life. The police also warned them not to return to the farm, clearly not understanding that this was stating the obvious.

Peter and Crispian needed to film further evidence for the expos, and the next few days would be their last opportunity. The hunting fraternity is very much a closed society and, before long, the incident on Mostert’s farm would be known to everyone involved in lion breeding and canned lion hunting right across the country.

The following day they had a meeting with Roy Plath, the owner of Marlothi and the person who had sanctioned the German client’s shooting of the Dark Lioness. Fortunately he had not yet learned of the Mostert incident. Peter had informed Plath that they were investigating the opportunities of a lion hunt for an overseas client.

At Marlothi, he obliged Peter’s request to cut a small portion out of a fence so that he could film a young male lion whom Plath was prepared to allow the “client” (whom they had named Mr James Rogers) to shoot for R110 000. He also agreed to make a video invitation to “Mr Rogers” to come and shoot the lion. Facing the camera, he said: “It looks like we have just the lion for you and I look forward to you coming out to shoot this lion and to have a trophy for your home or offices, whatever pleases you.”

With Plath “in the can”, Peter and Crispian headed to Johannesburg where another wealthy businessman was interested in literally “making a killing” from Peter’s “client”. This man was Fanie Roberts, owner of a 2 000ha game farm in KwaZulu-Natal, where he “farmed” exotic animals as his speciality. He was offering exotic and indigenous species to be hunted, including jaguar for $100 000.

When discussing hunting exotics on his farm, he was caught on the spy camera saying: “I have got an enclosure, which is like 100m by 100m, something like that, where you and your client and the tiger can’t come out.”

A few months earlier, Fanie Roberts had been featured on the South African environmental television programme 50/50. The commentary had described the farm in glowing terms: “This game farm with a difference is testimony to the single- minded vision of Fanie himself … boasting of the big five as well as every conceivable large cat imaginable.”

The commentary told of “the vast enclosures” in which he “houses the cats” with “easily the most impressive fencing in the country”. It went on to say that “cats are his pride and joy” and “the affection on both sides is obvious”, as Roberts was shown trying to touch a lioness through the fence with a piece of grass.

The insert told of how, in the past, the reserve had been Roberts’s private getaway but he was now encouraging visitors and had built luxury chalets to accommodate them. “Money,” the commentary said, “is not an important factor for Fanie, who came close to death in February this year when two muggers shot him in the throat in Johannesburg as he was paying his staff.”

Not once during the insert was the viewer informed that, for the right price, Roberts might allow you to shoot one of his tigers, jaguars or other animals in the enclosures. The insert ended with various shots of animals on his farm, including a close-up of a jaguar. After recently watching a video copy of this programme, I wondered if it was the same jaguar that Roberts put on offer for Peter’s bogus client to shoot.

Crispian and Peter drove to KwaZulu-Natal to meet Fanie Roberts at his game farm. Both were nervous about being at his game farm. I think they had visions of being found out and something happening to them, or of even being forced, unarmed, into one of the enclosures holding the big cats. Crispian told me later that they had to endure a long, nail-biting period of time just chatting with Roberts before they could film him with his exotic cats.

During that conversation Roberts revealed to Crispian and Peter that he hoped, with his breeding programme, eventually to have 50 male lions a year available for trophy hunters. According to Crispian, he also revealed that he had Bengal tigers, black leopard and even a white tiger which could be made available to trophy hunters.

Eventually they were taken to the jaguar enclosure and, with the camera focused on the animal, Peter asked him whether this was the jaguar being offered. Roberts responded in the affirmative. Roberts then knelt in front of the cage and, in front of Crispian and Peter, said that the jaguar was now 10 years old and was no longer of any use to him. Paradoxically, while saying this, he attempted to stroke the jaguar through the fence.

It was then that the full horror of the hours and days of delving into the sordid world of canned hunts hit Crispian. Seeing Roberts apparently attempting to show affection for the jaguar immediately after he had said it could be shot dead for money, coupled with the clear view on Roberts’s neck of the scar left by the muggers’ bullet, hit Crispian with what he described as “a blinding white light of irrationality”.