When it comes to canned hunting
our thoughts are unequivocal. This is a barbaric practice offering no benefit to conservation, to local people or to the environment.
In short, canned hunting is the practice where animals are reared, often in a way that accustoms them to human presence, specifically to be sold as trophies to hunters. There are several reserves in South Africa offering canned hunts but the industry goes much wider than the final product. Many ‘reserves’ and ‘sanctuaries’ offering walking with lions and cheetah experiences, or projects where volunteers care for lion cubs are simply getting these animals habituated to humans before selling them to canned hunts.
What you can do:
Hunting will remain an important source of income for wildlife reserves in KwaZulu-Natal as long as there is demand for it.
We do, of course, hope that responsible tourism will one day emerge as a far more sustainable – and ethical – alternative, proving that wildlife is worth far more alive than dead.
While hunting concessions in parks managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife are not open to safari tourists, some private game reserves do mix both leisure safaris and hunting safaris on their land. To make conservation work without hunting, responsible tourism needs to support communities to make a living from keeping their lands pristine, protected and poacher-free.
If you feel strongly about this issue, then choose your safari experience carefully and put your money where your mouth is – into reserves which operate without hunting to back up their budgets.
Galen Schultz, from our leading wildlife conservation volunteering specialists in KwaZulu-Natal, WildlifeACT, explains the importance of supporting local communities when it comes to conservation:
“First-time travellers to Zululand should be aware that the majority of our wildlife protected areas are surrounded by rural, often very impoverished communities. This is a poorly-understood reason as to why wildlife poaching is such a huge issue in South Africa. One of our areas of focus is educating both these communities and the public about the importance of empowering those who live alongside wild areas.”
Interactive experiences such as walking with lions and cheetahs are less prevalent in KwaZulu-Natal than in other regions of South Africa – but be vigilant and don’t support any sanctuary or reserve offering these practises.
If you want to volunteer to support conservation in KwaZulu-Natal then choose a project which focuses on habitat management and the ongoing monitoring and tracking of, and research into, wild species. While these may lack the Instagram-ability of a project cuddling lion cubs or walking with cheetahs you won’t be unwittingly playing your part in preparing these animals for a canned hunt. And in reserves where a lack of government funding makes effective conservation strategies difficult, supporting the work of permanent research teams (which also engage local communities to increase income and empowerment) will be making a real difference to vital conservation work.