PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has denied allegations made by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that his Phala Phala Wildlife breeding operation benefits from trophy hunting.
This follows an investigation by PETA which reveals that Ramaphosa’s ‘hidden connections and investments in the trophy hunting industry and obtained video footage of an American trophy hunter who repeatedly shoots a young elephant just outside Kruger National Park”.
PETA US, the largest animal rights organization with more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, has filed a request for an investigation whether the prolonged death of the elephant shown in the video constitutes a cruelty-to-animals violation of the South African permit.
However, in a statement issued on Saturday, presidential spokesperson Tyrone Seale refuted PETA’s allegations, saying they were patently false and unfounded.
“Neither Phala Phala nor President Ramaphosa is engaged in illegal or unethical activities in any form,” said Seale.
Seale explained: “Neither the President nor Phala Phala have a stake in the trophy hunting industry or in Tsala Hunting Safaris. Phala Phala is a privately-owned wildlife farm whose business is breeding game. Tsala are privately-owned hunting outfitters.”
“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.”
Ramaphosa also took the opportunity 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,” said Seale.
“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.”
Seale added that in the light of allegations that Tsala Hunting Safaris engaged 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.
“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,” said Seale.
Phala Phala Wildlife said it has noted that PETA US has previously made false allegations regarding the president’s interest in racing pigeon breeding.
It said Ramaphosa has been a pigeon breeder since the age of 16, and owned a flock of pigeons as a young man living in Soweto in the 1960s and ‘70s.
The president has been engaging with breeders in Soweto and the Western Cape about the development of the industry, as well as on the increased participation of young, black entrants in pigeon racing.
“Pigeon racing has been practised since the 1800s and is a sport with a substantial global following,” said Seale.
“That PETA US continues to use its platforms to disseminate false information regarding Phala Phala Wildlife and President Ramaphosa is wholly regrettable.”
(SOURCE: INSIDE POLITICS)