Updated: Jul 26
The above are words quoted by André Roux in "Masailand" - a story about unpressured, endless hunting in Tanzania. Ending his preface he writes:
"Tomorrow we would drift again into the horizon on the rolling white grassy ocean and hunt for nothing in particular. I have long ago learned that hunting without pressure or expectation of success is the most sublime form of contemplation I know.
Then one day it all [shall] end and we [shall be] in the car driving down to the airstrip. We had tasted something so good that the thought of never tasting it again [is] a feeling between horror and sorrow."
It has been a while now that I have been mulling in my mind a subject about hunting in South Africa - the reasons why people hunt and the style of their hunting driven by those reasons. This will be a developing story with dedicated sections to the different reasons South Africans themselves hunt and the way they conduct those hunts. When I read the quoted introduction to MASAILAND it suggested the framework in my mind for this short BLOG series.
Many casual local shooters at game who are clients or guests of corporate hosts - and those hosts themselves, and the game lodges and ranches that cater for these type of hunters and their type of hunting may not like some of the facts and opinions that will be coming in this blogpost. It is also a sad fact that there are outfitters who play the USA hunting shows and have found a way of mining that market and have struck gold - namely finding client hunters in the USA who have developed a culture of instant gratification for everything they need to achieve - even related to hunting. Individuals who have money but have little time, and also have a need to display their quickly achieved "trophies" collected in a week of rushed around shooting.
Much ado was made some years ago about so-called "canned" lion hunting - a description which started with a certain individual ranch owner cum outfitter who kept old, mostly tame circus lions in a small area and capitalised on the American hunter who was after instant gratification. That individual rancher was removed from the professional hunting society a long time ago and lion hunting in South Africa is an ethical on foot hunt on large properties going after individual, older lion. It is not assassinating just any prime breeding male from a blind any one that looks good enough and has come to feed at that particular moment. This latter manner was the style in countries north of South Africa the past 100 years.
There however indeed is another form of canned hunting which is never talked about and practised daily in South Africa with foreign clients. There are the small properties (or large properties with internally 100 or so acres of fenced-in fields) where canned Cape buffalo, sable, nyala and wildebeest are shot from the back of a truck during a quick, 20 minute drive-through. It is noting but a quick trophy-collection outing. I could never understand why Americans call hunting by the term "harvesting" - what a degrading term that is for the beautiful animal that is hunted. Shooting canned buffalo is nothing but trophy harvesting. It is grossly unethical, to put it in the nicest possible way.
There are the other issues of bow hunting and of handgun hunting that will be discussed freely - and the issue of genetically manipulated "rats with unnaturally wide horns". Also, there is the issue of alcohol: of hunting outfitters and hosts encouraging drinking before a hunt and carrying and serving supplies of beer and whisky and brandy and rum to the hunters and onlookers even while hunting. There are other issues too. All will be highligted and discussed, point by point.
BUT: There also are the ethical operators who want to offer their foreign clients their dreams - clients who have long been dreaming of and saving for hunting Africa in the true Africa style, of experiencing the wilderness as much as is possible even though they will be sleeping in a big lodge or comfortable chalets. Honest hospitality exists in South Africa. These are outfitters and Professional Hunters who in their own right have hunted and experienced the wilderness areas of Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Niassa Province of Mozambique. There ARE individuals - and I include myself here - who have treaded the banks of the Loureco River exactly where Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Manners had left their tracks a long time ago. That story line will form the backbone of this series.
As mentioned earlier - this is a developing story, so stay tuned