Onne Vegter, Chairman of Satsa’s Transport Committee, and MD and Co-founder of Wild Wings Safaris, commented on Tourism Update’s recent article calling to ban all forms of trophy hunting, saying that even though he is not a hunter and that he personally dislikes trophy hunting – ethical hunting still has a major role to play in conservation.
“Many thousands of hectares of wilderness areas are only preserved by hunting. Many cattle ranches have been converted to hunting farms over the years, benefiting many species.”
He confirmed that the hunting of lions was always an emotive topic, and among those with strong opinions, he has met very few people who have a balanced, big-picture view that is based on fact and experience, rather than emotion.
“Compared with 30 years ago, there are far more reserves today that have breeding populations of wild lions, many of them small reserves with very limited capacity to carry lions. Those populations have to be carefully managed. When those lion populations increase beyond what the reserve can cope with, what should the reserve do? Where do those lions go? In one well-known private reserve, the population of lions quickly increased from 30 to well over 100. And then of course, they decimated the cheetah population.”
He added that any fenced reserve required a careful balance and active management of population dynamics.
“There are many smaller reserves needing to get rid of lions. They can't sell them. They can't even give them away.”
Vegter believes that to call for the complete banning of lion hunting is an extremely short-sighted and poorly informed position.
“For me, the only question should be: how do we stop unethical trophy hunting, and canned lion hunting (lions being bred purely for canned hunts)? How do we stop this without banning ethical trophy hunting under the right conditions?”
He concluded that it was not a decision that should be made by politicians, journalists, filmmakers, social media keyboard warriors, tourism people, or armchair conservationists who have no actual experience with managing wildlife.
“Everyone means well, but few people know what they are talking about,” Vegter said.