Namibia bucks hunting-pic trend, but SA won't budge
It's to ban 'unethical' post-hunt images on social media, but SA says there's a complex legislative process to follow
Facebook and Instagram photographs of hunters posing with dead trophy animals have sparked heated public debate, amid a move by the Namibian government to ban hunters from posting any more post-hunt pictures on social media.
But SA’s Department of Environmental Affairs says there are no moves afoot to ban hunters from posting similar pictures online, and that some “cogent and clear” reasons would have to be advanced to change current laws to ban such photos being published.
Last month, US hunter Tess Talley came under attack after she was photographed posing next to a giraffe she shot in SA, while Minnesota TV presenter Melissa Bachman received deaths threats after she posted photographs on her Facebook page of a lion she shot in Limpopo in 2013.Similar hunting photographs in Namibia prompted Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta to announce last month that he would prohibit hunters from posting such pictures.
In a memorandum sent to hunting organisations on July 3, his office said the ministry was requesting all hunters to refrain from posting photographs taken next to dead animals, even if the animals were hunted legally.
“This practice is not only unethical but it also tarnishes the image of the well-regulated Nambian hunting industry. Consequently the ministry has now introduced a new permit condition, to prohibit hunters with valid permits (from posting or sending) photographs on public platforms but just to take photographs for their own use in their private capacities.”
Responding to written queries from Times Select, the SA Department of Environmental Affairs said the hunting of threatened or protected species was regulated by national legislation and by separate provincial ordinances.
Spokesperson Albi Modise said: “It should be noted that before introducing any new conditions to the permit issued in terms of the abovementioned legislation, there would have to be an amendment of the affected legislation.
“Amendment of legislation is a comprehensive and highly consultative process. Cogent and clear objectives would have to be advanced as to why there is a need to change legislation. The Department of Environmental Affairs and provincial conservation authorities have not discussed the matter being referred to in this media inquiry and thus have not considered introducing permit conditions relating to publication of hunting photographs on social media and other public platforms in this regard.”Back in Namibia, however, it appears that the government has put the ban on hold pending further talks with the hunting industry.
The Windhoek Observer newspaper reported last week that the Namibian Professional Hunting Association held a “very constructive and positive meeting” with Minister Shifeta to discuss a number of concerns.
Shifeta told the newspaper that some social media photos, such as hunters posing with dead giraffes, tended to misrepresent, and incite hostile emotions against hunting.
“Hunting is permitted by the Namibian constitution. However, it is morally not correct to post such pictures. People can take those pictures for private use only, but not to post on social media.”
Nevertheless, his ministry was considering ways to amend hunting legislation to find legal ways to prohibit and punish those who posted such photos.
The hunting association said: “We hope that everyone involved in hunting will act as ambassadors for our lovely country and abide by the final consensus decision ... We support the minister’s vision but there are some things that need clarity.”It is understood that some hunting safari companies and outfitters are concerned about their ability to advertise or market hunts without such photographs.
An online search of hunting websites shows that post-hunt photos are widely used by several safari companies.
Commenting on the Namibian proposal on the africahunting.com website, US hunter Fred Gunner said he had already booked a leopard and plains game hunt for 2019.
“I’m taking lots of photos and I will share them without fear.”“Bert the Turtle” from Minnesota posted that the proposed ban was intended to prevent “dumbassses” from posting images that could harm the image of hunting.
“Slitting the throat of an oryx may be the most appropriate way to kill it (for whatever reason, perhaps out of ammo?) but why film it and why post it? ... I am not afraid to post pictures but for the most part I do think it is better to share pictures among friends rather than posting them publicly. If someone on the fence is to see a picture of me posing with a dead animal, I want to be there to help him understand the rationale behind hunting.”