Bild magazine in Germany says it has uncovered the dark side of canned hunting. A Bild magazine journalist wrote this story after visiting the Jagd & Hund hunting show in Dortmund this week. The story claims that professional hunters are offering to injure big cats in order to make them ‘safe’ for hunting tourists to shoot. If true, this is not the kind of ‘fair chase’ enshrined by hunting organisations such as Safari Club International. But it is not true.
At the HHK Safaris booth, which sells hunting safaris to Zimbabwe and other African countries, Bild reporters posing as hunters met salesman Johan Bezuidenhout. He offered them 18 days of safari in Zimbabwe for US$54,700 (£45,000). Trophy fees for animals are extra, with giraffes priced at around €2,700, zebra €1,300 euros, and lions €36,400.
According to Bild, Johan made it sound as easy as possible in order to entice his clients. He told reporters: “We drive up to 30 metres with leopards, shoot them first in the legs, then you can kill it.”
HKK Safaris denies the charge in this video:
„Die perverse Preisliste der Tierkiller“ titelt @BILD Reporter @CelalCakar_ Was sein Interviewpartner Johan von angeblichen Zitaten hält? Hier sein Statement: t.co/a1t5x84FBO @JagdverbandDJV @CICwildlife pic.twitter.com/nZwTZBmOGD
— Stephan Wunderlich (@wunderlichst) January 31, 2020
Professional hunters agree that Johan must have been joking. Injuring a leopard turns it from dangerous game to deadly game. The late, great Don Heath, PH, writing in the May/June 2012 issue of Successful Hunter magazine says: ‘I have had more than my fair share of close shaves. Poorly armed and inadequately experienced, Itook on many wounded or problem animals in my early years with [Zimbabwe] National Parks. I had elephants get to within four paces of me and buffalo and lion within two paces, but I shot my way out each time, save one, a leopard that died skewered on the bayonet of my FN issue rifle. I have followed up leopard wounded by my own clients and helped colleagues follow up leopards wounded by their clients… When it comes down to pucker factor, only poking around for lion in the dark can beat it.’
HHK’s website carries the logos of organisations including SCI, Zimbabwe Professional Hunters & Guides Association and the Wild Sheep Foundation.
The Bild report includes a pro-hunting statement and an anti-hunting statement from pressue groups. The pro hunter they spoke to points out: “Responsible hunting makes an important contribution to the ecological balance of native flora and fauna. Most hunters treat the killed animals with respect.”