Man on a mission to stop 'canned' hunting'

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Man on a mission to stop 'canned' hunting'

Please note that this article was sourced from the AFP website with the aim to inform the hunting community what the 'anti hunting fraternity' is doing. Your comments would be appriciated.

A South African anti-trophy hunting campaigner has described conservation structures in this country as being "more backward than Somalia".

Chris Mercer, who formerly ran the Kalahari Raptor Centre near Kuruman in the Northern Cape, along with his partner, Beverley Pervan, is currently on a campaign in Britain to highlight the practice of trophy hunting in South Africa.

This week Mercer told a public audience at the Conway Hall in central London that it was premature to call for a general tourism boycott of South Africa, but suggested that the European Union consider banning the import, possession or sale of African wildlife trophies.

He described South Africa's hunting laws as archaic, saying that even Somalia had banned trophy hunting in 1973 - referring to it as a "barbaric relic of colonialism".

'South Africa's hunting laws are archaic'
Kenya, he said, had followed suit three years later. Pouring scorn on the panel of experts set up by the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, to investigate the role of hunting in conservation, Mercer described it as "a panel of non-experts designed to ensure that South Africa remains a hunting colony".

He went on to say that all reputable critics of the doctrine of sustainable use had been systematically excluded from the panel, so that the issue of animal welfare would not even be on the agenda.

"Instead, the panel is packed with hunters, pro-hunters and hunting collaborators, making it a mischievous pretence of public consultation, when in fact it is no more than a public relations exercise," said Mercer.

He is convinced the panel will ignore the fact that hunting causes stunting of species, such as springbok in the Karroo, and leopard in the Cape, and will attempt to introduce "irrelevant and unenforceable notions of fair chase" into any policy document.

He described all trophy hunting in South Africa as "canned", because the targets had no chance to escape from their fenced environment.

Never one to pull his punches, Mercer showed his audience graphic video footage, including the bow hunting of a lioness.

During his one-month campaign he will address business leaders and educational institutions.

A meeting is being hosted by the world-famous Howletts and Port Lympne, founded by the late John Aspinall in Kent, England. The sanctuaries are home to the largest group of captive gorillas in the world and the largest herd of black rhino outside Africa.

Mercer and Pervan eventually left the Raptor Centre, claiming that the conservation authorities in the province made their task nearly impossible.

They are also considering a documentary highlighting the problems they encountered in trying to provide a sanctuary for wildlife at the centre.

Pippa Ducat, education officer for Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks, said that Mercer's message would also find its way into schools, as about 40 school teachers were expected to attend.

"They will return home with a conservation message for their students," said Ducat . . . and no doubt not very flattering conceptions of conservation in this country.