The debate that ensued from last week's article in Pot-Shot about hunting rifles and other items that could be ordered from overseas via the Internet for less than what local suppliers had on offer, reminds one of the chicken and egg dilemma.
So, who is calling the shots in the hunting industry? Hunters or dealers?
The reality is that hunters and dealers in South Africa cannot easily do without each other. Without rekindling the debate, one should rather take a good look at the interdependencies that exist between hunters and dealers.
Judging by the estimated number of hunters in South Africa (220 000) and the industry's annual R8 billion contribution to the economy, the hunting industry is a force to be reckoned with, but it cannot afford to be side-tracked by discourse and mistrust between hunters and dealers. With factors such as unpopular legislation, politics, bureaucratic mayhem and emotional statements from animal rights activists (e.g. the ARA's recent accusations on cruelty) hunters and dealers have their hands full. It is counter-productive for hunters and dealers to accuse one another.
The Black Gun Owners Association that is demanding R3.2 billion in damages from government, claims that the authorities" poor handling of the Fire Arms Control Act caused 800 fire-arm dealers to close shop, 10 000 people lost their jobs and that more than 40 000 black South African were denied fire-arm licences between 2004 and 2010. These figures, if correct, demonstrate how vulnerable the industry is.
The organisers of HuntEx2011, the new annual hunting exhibition that will launch in April 2011 at the Gallagher Convention Centre, are in discussion with major role players in the hunting industry to get their support and participation in the biggest gathering of hunters and dealers ever held in South Africa. During some of these discussions there was evidence that a younger generation of entrepreneurs were emerging in the hunting industry with innovative marketing and selling concepts to reach the hunters, introducing new and healthy competition that will benefit hunters.
The HuntEx organisers will host a formal information session between the commercial hunting industry and the leadership of the SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SAHGCA) in Midrand during August.
The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the challenges facing the entire hunting community (hunters and dealers) and to find solutions that will ensure that hunters can hunt and dealers can trade without any interference for many years to come. Various other aspects will also be covered, but Potshot and SA Hunter will report on this in more detail at a later stage.
The crux of the matter is that the onus rests on hunters and the trade to establish and maintain a hunting industry that is an economic force to be reckoned with and that will enjoy the recognition and respect that it deserves from government. The hunting tradition offers ample opportunities for:
"Â¢ developing the socio-economical role of game farms
"Â¢ uplifting local communities through training and job creation
"Â¢ creating research and conservation opportunities in die game industry
"Â¢ protecting our biodiversity
"Â¢ converting uneconomical farmland into economical units through game farming
"Â¢ establishing a viable venison market to ensure food security
"Â¢ expanding the export market for sought-after, safe and healthy venison and game products
"Â¢ creating new career opportunities in the hunting and conservation industry
"Â¢ expanding commercial trade opportunities in providing products and services to hunters, game farm owners
There are too many challenges for the hunters to deal with on their own. The industry has vested interests to protect. The logical solution is for hunters and the business sector is to combine their skills, knowledge and resources to ensure that the hunting legacy is preserved for generations to come.
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