Animal rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have accused President Cyril Ramaphosa of allegedly having ties to the controversial trophy hunting trade in South Africa.

According to PETA, Ramaphosa has “hidden connections and investments in the trophy hunting industry”. In an undercover investigation into trophy hunting in South Africa, they claim to have interviews with Ramaphosa’s managers in which they allegedly confirm the president’s involvement with the controversial industry. 

“Footage reveals that Ramaphosa is quietly developing and expanding a trophy hunting property called Diepdrift—stocking it with animals from his own wildlife breeding operation, Phala Phala—and that he owns a 50% stake in Tsala Hunting Safaris,” said PETA in a statement.

“In other words, far from “conserving” wildlife, wild animals are bred specifically to be killed for trophies. PETA recorded conversations in which Ramaphosa’s managers admitted that he shares equally in the profits from all hunts conducted through Tsala and spoke of the importance of concealing his involvement.”

In a statement released on Saturday [November 21], the Presidency denied these allegations and called them “unfounded”.

According to Tyrone Seale, Acting Spokesperson to the President, neither the President nor Phala Phala have a stake in the trophy hunting industry or in Tsala Hunting Safaris, and neither is engaged in illegal or unethical activities in any form.

“Phala Phala is a privately-owned wildlife farm whose business is breeding game. Tsala are privately-owned hunting outfitters,” reads the statement. “Phala Phala has been in operation since 2010 and is run in accordance with the strictest conservation and wildlife management principles. Phala Phala’s wildlife breeding and management activities comply with best ethical and lawful practice in the sector.”

The following serves to clarify the nature of the relationship between Phala Phala and Tsala Hunting Safaris.

– Phala Phala undertakes annual culls of game such as impala, buffalo, kudu and wildebeest to avoid carrying excess numbers.
– Culling is an established wildlife management tool practiced around the globe, including in state-run conservation reserves.
–  Phala Phala entered into an agreement with Tsala Hunting Safaris to hunt the aforementioned game that would, in any event, have been culled.

“In the light of allegations that Tsala engages in the hunting of threatened or protected species on other properties, Phala Phala has given notice to Tsala Safaris to terminate the hunting arrangement with them,” said Seale. “This decision is in line with Phala Phala’s commitment to sound conservation principles, and its demonstrable compliance with ethical and lawful wildlife management standards.”

According to Seale, PETA US has previously made false allegations regarding the President’s interest in racing pigeon breeding.

“That PETA US continues to use its platforms to disseminate false information regarding Phala Phala Wildlife and President Ramaphosa is wholly regrettable,” he concludes.

Hunting is a legal and regulated industry in South Africa that forms part of the country’s policy on the sustainable utilisation of natural resources. This is a principle supported by international environmental agreements including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Hunting activities are subject to a permit being issued in terms of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) as well as in terms of provincial legislation where required.

Hunting tourism is a major contributor to the South African economy and is valued at over R6-billion per annum. The hunting industry creates jobs and supports small business and enterprise development, especially in rural areas. It also creates economic opportunities for communities who have benefited from land restitution.

Picture: Twitter / The Presidency

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