There is no question about the deep connection that responsible hunters have with nature. When you spent hours in the veld, intensely aware of nature’s sounds, smells and touch, it instils in you a pronounced respect for wildlife and an appreciation of how much we as people need these humbling moments in nature. It drives home the reality that we share the same planet, with finite resources and space, and that we have a huge responsibility to look after our wildlife heritage we rely on for so much more than just food.
Despite our best intentions, we do however have to acknowledge that like other wildlife enthusiast, we also have an impact on the environment, even if unintentional. There is increasing international and local concern about the negative impacts of unintentional lead-based poisoning of wildlife resulting from amongst other sources, the use of lead-based ammunition. A lack of information and open and honest discussions and collaboration between all role players, can lead to polarisation on this matter, which is not conducive to mitigate the risks to wildlife and ensure the long-term survival of threatened species.
As an association that is well-known for its commitment towards conservation and responsible wildlife utilisation, the SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association made the following commitments some years ago:
- To continue to play a leadership in promoting conservation and responsible wildlife use, including in our choices of ammunition and how and where we hunt with what
- To play an active role in identifying research gaps, facilitating contemporary research and scrutinizing results to objectively improve the knowledge-base on the risks to people and wildlife associated with the use of lead-based ammunition
- To facilitate and engage in constructive open and robust discussions to improve the understanding of firstly our members, but also other role-players and the public on the realities and risks of the use of lead-based ammunition and the challenges in making the shift to non-lead alternatives
- To work towards getting the buy-in of all role-players through promoting and following a collaborative, integrated and holistic approach towards finding meaningful solutions as there are no quick fixes or one size fit all solutions
- To raise awareness inhouse and within broader society on risks and viable mitigation measures – to translate science/facts into digestible information for all stakeholders
- To actively work towards ensuring affordable, affective, available and safe ammunition for members and wildlife
We also work as part of the national Wildlife Poison Prevention Working Group and its Lead Task Team which includes representatives of government, conservation agencies and NGO’s, the hunting and angling fraternity and research institutions.