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It is with regret that the National Council of SPCAs has to report that, despite widespread protests and the best efforts of many organisations, including the NSPCA, the planned Alldays driven hunt went ahead for the week of 07 to 11 September 2015. Armed with two different warrants of entry for the properties prepared for these hunts, Inspectors from the NSPCA went on site to monitor and investigate the procedures of this particular hunting method.
The following comments with regards to the hunt must not be taken in any regard as an approval by the NSPCA of this type of hunting:
This driven hunt was organised and set up specifically for this group of foreign hunting clients as a result of a preference for this type of hunting. This hunt was under the control of a single ‘hunt master’ whose presence and tight control possibly eliminated a worse result for the animals affected. It was clear from the beginning that the potential for disaster would increase tenfold should this type of hunting be organised and conducted by people totally new to this form of hunting, mainly due to the fact that hunters have a small window of opportunity, must make split-second decisions and are aiming and firing at constantly moving targets.
Due to the size of these hunting parties; with 13-15 hunters, at least 7 Professional hunters for this size of the group, a large number of beaters to drive the animals in a certain direction, the noise level and level of disturbance is high in any account.
Apart from the abovementioned, the following are some of the concerns the National Council of SPCAs feels needs to be assessed/addressed going forward with any legislation pertaining to driven hunts in South Africa.
Due to the logistics of the hunt, hunters are confined to a stationary position until the end of the hunt without being able to follow up / check on the status of the animal (whether wounded or killed). Up to an hour or more can past between the first shot fired, that is when the first animal could have been fired upon, until the end of the hunt when hunters are able to check on their kills or wounded animals in need of a mercy shot or coup-de-grâce. This is especially applicable where animals that had been hit had managed to reach the densely vegetated fringe of the firing target range.
Applying this method of driving hunting anywhere near or in the direction of fences can lead to animals panicking and jumping into or over fences; possibly leading to its own disaster. Due to the number of shots fired and the presence and noise emanating from the beaters, animals ending against fences during such a hunt has no way out but into or over a fence.
Due to the duration of each ‘drive’ from beginning to end, late afternoon drives can lead to animals wounded not being found before sunset and thus left for the night until morning before trackers can continue.
The animals targeted are mostly on a non-selective basis as the aim of the hunt is not the selective removal of animals or even trophy hunting but the pure aim of numbers on a hunter’s card. Due to the split second decision before firing at an animal, selective hunting is virtually impossible.
Following the past driven hunt, it has become clear that proper conditions and guidelines have to be put in place if this is allowed to continue and taken on board as an allowed form of hunting.