'Claims of unethical hunting because we are blacks doing well'

2015-09-10 05:53
(News24)

(News24)

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Polokwane - The Tshivhula Communal Property Association, which has faced criticism for its game hunting, says it is being targeted because it is "among the few blacks who are in this business and doing well".

Animal rights organisations such as the NSPCA and the Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation have strongly condemned the Association, expressing concern at the practisc of "platform hunting". While it was not against the law, the animal rights groups have maintained that it was unethical.

This was in spite of the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs saying it had no intention of withdrawing the hunting permit for the four farms owned by Tshivhula.

The department insists it was not in violation of hunting permit regulations.

The association’s secretary Simon Mafela told News24 on Wednesday there was nothing illegal happening on their farms and accused the media of tarnishing their business's image.

"We have shown the department officials and SPCA everything and travelled with them during hunting, and they have seen that we are not doing anything illegal. We are among the few blacks who are in this business and doing well," said Mafela.

He said the farm had attracted foreign and domestic game hunters because they maintained a professional standard.

The farms were given to the community by the Land Restitution and Rural Development department in 2010, he said. Mafela said the community was not given grants by government to run the farm and were forced to get partners to help them.

Since then, he said business was booming and they had increased their staff from 40 to 150.

He said the accusations that they were allowing unethical hunting was because of jealousy. He accused their unnamed competitors, saying there were also a plot to stop their international clients from embarking on the hunts.

"They knew that we were scheduled to receive clients who were coming from as far as Europe and immediately they arrived [and] started making noise about unethical hunting," he said, but did not mention names.

Mafela said since the alleged "massacre" caught international headlines following a hunt; he was insulted and even called barbaric.

"But those that listen to us, and understand our explanation ended up apologising," he said.

Environmental Affairs spokesperson Simon Matome confirmed the department had received complaints, but said following investigations, they found the claims to be without substance.

"We have done our investigations. I was there too, and we did not find something illegal," he said.

Asked if the permit would be cancelled or withdrawn, Matome said there was nothing that warranted having the permit withdrawn.

However, claims of unethical hunting continued.

On Wednesday, members from various organisations waited outside the entrance of Ammondale Game farm trying to get information from SPCA colleagues who were on the farm with the Green Scorpions.

Wildlife Foundation’s Paul Oxton said they did not believe that the method used in hunting was in “any way ethical”, accusing the farm's owner of enclosing animals to be shot at.

Wildlife and Other Crime founder Natasha Brown said they were not against hunting, but were opposed to unethical hunting practices.

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