South Africa’s wildlife management associations have joined forces so they have the clout to fight threats to their conservation work from foreign governments.
They’re calling it a “golden moment in the history of South African hunting”. Almost all the county’s top hunting organisations have joined forces in the Sustainable Utilisation Coalition (SUCO).
“The Sustainable Use Coalition is not just about trophy hunting as such,” Dries van Coller of the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa tells Fieldsports News. “It’s about all aspects of sustainable use in our country, which a lot of people don’t understand. We approached all the like-minded associations to say, well we’ve got common value, we might not necessarily agree 100% with what each association does, but there is common ground throughout… The vast majority have decided, let’s work together and from there the Sustainable Use Coalition was established.”
Besides PHASA, member organisations include CHASA, WRSA, NATSHOOT, True Green Alliance, South African Taxidermy and Tannery Association, SA Wingshooters. In all, they represent more than 80,000 South African hunters. SUCO’s aim is to be a united front to secure the future of hunting in South Africa.
The move is in part a reaction to growing animosity against hunters from animal rights groups and foreign government intent on shutting down hunting tourism because they don’t understand its benefits.
“For some time it’s been coming,” says Dries. “Even in our country we have a bit of division in the wildlife industry in totality. If you look at the whole value chain, it’s been very disjointed in certain areas and… we have some challenges that we face in our own industry but one of the things we saw that is especially, the anti-hunters… are a lot more organised in how the approach the onslaughts against… trophy hunting [and] sustainable use. “
Dries insists the group doesn’t want to get too political, but admits they could be a force to be reckoned with if need be.
“To engage with government is very difficult as one small association, so size definitely does matter because it’s very representative of the whole industry… At this stage, if you look at what we stand for, we represent the majority of the wildlife sector in South Africa – not just hunters but landowners, we’ve got the falconers, various breeders, so it’s anything to do with sustainable utilisation. We’ve got areas where communities are involved, where they need to benefit from hunting and adventure tourism. It’s not just a hunting issue here, but if we lose that, we lose everything that goes with it.”
You can find out more about SUCO at the PHASA website