Extract from the Annual Report presented by President, Stan Burger, at the39th PHASA Annual General Meeting on 23 November 2016.
Abridged President’s Message & Report - 2016
Distinguished guests, friends, fellow members and colleagues
It is a rare honour to present my President’s Report for 2016 in the beauty of the Drakensberg Mountains.
The first year of my term as president has flown by at the speed of light. No matter how long you have served on the PHASA Exco as vice-president or president-elect, I don’t think anyone knows what it is like to actually be PHASA president, until you are.
My first year of serving you, the members of this phenomenal organisation, has been inspiring, enervating and downright scary at times. Our new mantra – Back to Basics – has produced dividends and we have succeeded in building bridges with important stakeholders in our industry.
The camaraderie of Exco and office staff, and their sheer commitment to this association are astonishing and profound. Nothing is too much trouble.
PHASA, the biggest and one of the foremost and respected professional hunters’ associations in the world, has gone from strength to strength. Our effectiveness and efficiency has improved even more throughout the year.
A sensitive matter
After the resolution taken by the majority of the PHASA members at the 2015 AGM to once again distance themselves from captive-bred lion hunting and breeding, we have been welcomed back into the fold. We have regained the respect of our sister associations, our colleagues across Africa and, indeed, across the world.
Trophy hunting, in particular, continues to face a hitherto unprecedented onslaught from those who strive to close down all hunting across the globe, often with hidden agendas that suit their own pockets and existence. At this time – when we face the scrutiny of many uninformed and ignorant people – it is absolutely crucial that we professional hunters and outfitters continue to hunt responsibly and to the highest ethical standards. We should refrain from any activities that have the potential to further discredit the hunting industry in the eyes of our government and the public at large – both nationally and internationally. We need to be honourable conservationists who earn the undisputed respect of our support groups.
We should not give those who wish to ban hunting any more ammunition to use against us, to impose an outright ban on trophy hunting. We cannot allow indefensible actions to continue.
As you know, the biggest threat to all trophy hunting today is the practice of captive-bred lion (CBL) shooting, which continues to polarise society against the entire hunting industry. The window period for the CBL industry and South African Predator Association (SAPA) to accomplish the goals PHASA set for them in March 2012, has passed and closed. This practice is no longer acceptable to the world, in general, in any form. The only way forward is to hunt wild lions on large areas containing managed wild populations or on big reserves.
US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has granted South Africa import permits for wild lions, due to them having a conservation value.
No imports of captive-bred lions are allowed, due to the absence of any conservation value. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has requested a total ban on the breeding of large predators and reiterated that this practice has no conservation value.
SAPA has failed to convince PHASA and the IUCN of the conservation value of CBL, or to prove it, and has not attempted to seriously address the issue.
Highlights and challenges of 2016
The driven initiative of PHASA and the Limpopo Hunters’ Liaison Forum (LHLF) to form the Conservation Research Fund was a great success. PHASA’s presentation to the scientific authority resulted in the private sector having a voice and representative at the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) for the first time ever. In future, private sector research will be accepted and used by SANBI to help determine leopard quotas.
In August this year, 58 international organisations met in Atlanta on the initiative of the SCI Foundation for the C2C (Crucial to Conservation) workshop. This was a groundbreaking historical event, laying the foundation for global co-operation in countering the animal rights movement.
A Conservationist’s Cry — The video was released at CITES CoP17 and we also worked hard behind the scenes to distribute it to as many key contacts as possible. It went viral on YouTube on the first day of release, and has become a significant tool and a go-to movie in presenting the case for sustainable hunting.
As you know, CoP17 was hosted by South Africa this year. PHASA participated in many forums and workshops, and was present in the PHASA booth during the convention. Our DEA Minister, Edna Molewa, and several of her colleagues did us proud. Africa made her voice heard.
Overall, your Association is in good financial shape with a surplus of R3 million invested with PSG. Our auditors are happy with the numbers. However, the budget for 2017 presented its own challenges. These have been addressed.
Our industry has faced an inordinate amount of challenges this year and we have responded resolutely to these. The Exco resolved to appoint a new public relations company, Mystic Studios. Retha van Reenen and Ruhan Gudzman will do a presentation on the PR and Media strategy for PHASA for 2017. They already proved their value at CoP17.
Our membership numbers are stable and the membership committee has been tasked with finding new ways to increase the membership, especially field memberships.
We have served our members more efficiently by improving our lines of communication, and installing the new FileMaker software to monitor and analyse the membership, so that we can further improve services.
The Facebook page and website have seen major improvement (although this is just the beginning), and the bottleneck at the CFR for the issuing of firearm import permits has been resolved. We continue to provide Section 16A permit facilities for firearm licences.
We provided up-to-date information on industry-related matters and made the approved minutes of our Exco meetings available to membership through the newsletter. We also informed and assisted members on a one-on-one basis every day via our office.
The provincial meetings have proven to be very successful in disseminating information to our members, as well as addressing concerns raised by members at the meetings.
PHASA is totally committed to serving our members and the industry. Our governance structures and procedures are sound, and the office is running smoothly.
Tharia Unwin, our new CEO, has been on a steep learning curve, and is trying to master the many and diverse challenges faced by a CEO in this difficult position. The pace at PHASA and the complexity of the problems we encounter are sometimes overwhelming.
PHASA has the privilege of being supported by some of the best financial, public relations and legal minds in South Africa. I want to thank Hestie van der Merwe and her team, Dewald van den Berg of Werksmans, and Retha van Reenen and Ruhan Gudzmans of Mystic Studios for a job well done.
A huge thank you to all our donors and sponsors who are present here. Your very generous contributions make it possible for PHASA to punch far above our weight and your long-standing loyal sponsorships have made an incredible difference.
A hallmark of our success at PHASA is teamwork. The Exco, Fund directors, provincial champions and brilliant office staff — Nonkie, Joan, Tersia and Marianna — pull together as one. Thank you is not enough for the many long hours you all put in, way beyond the call of duty. I am grateful for your guidance, hard work and advice.
I am extremely proud to be part of PHASA. The support I have received from the 2016 Exco has been exceptional. These men give selflessly of their time and expertise to PHASA because they care deeply about where this association is heading. Hermann, Katte, Dries, Johan vd Berg, Strauss, Craig, Dave, Johan Combrink and Jacques — I salute you.
I thank my wife Jacqueline, the love of my life, Susannah and Sebastian, for your love and living every moment with me and keeping me grounded. Without you looking after the business, I would not be in this position today. Your understanding, support and guidance keep me motivated and strong.
Finally, I ask all of you to put your egos and differences aside. Think hard about the future of hunting and the extreme challenges we will face in the years to come. Try to revive the passion that made you become a Professional Hunter and/or Outfitter. Remember the hunting heroes when you were young and the example they were to you. You could be the hero of the new generation of hunters.
Listen to your inner voice that tells you when you are doing the right thing. Get back to basics. It’s all about responsibility and respect.
Honour your clients and the wildlife on which you are dependent. Try your utmost to make their African Dream come true. Give them memories for a lifetime and let your conscience dictate your actions.
Feel the sun on your face, the African dust on your skin and the satisfaction of an honest day of hard hunting.
Past PHASA President Basie Maartens wrote, “The ultimate challenge that faces us in our quest to survive in the hunting world, is to create a culture of hunting that maintains respect for the animal and acknowledges the spirituality that takes it to a higher level than a mere trophy on the wall or venison on the table. This culture must be our philosophy. It must be written in our hearts and not on stone tablets which can be broken”.
I wish you all happy holidays, a blessed Christmas and a prosperous new year.
The following is an abridged version of the annual report presented at the 39th PHASA Annual General Meeting on 23 November 2016.
Welcome to this 39th convention and Annual General Meeting of the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa.
Allow me, first of all, to thank Ben Heystek, who acted as CEO from December 2015 to February 2016, the 2016 Executive Committee (Exco) and the PHASA Conservation and Empowerment Fund (the Fund) directors for guiding me through my first year as CEO and, more so, for their unselfish commitment and support of our association.
The 2016 Executive Committee was comprised of the following members:
Stan Burger — President
Hermann Meyeridricks — Immediate Past President
Dries van Coller — President-elect/Vice-president
Eduard Katzke — Vice-president
Johan van den Berg
Jacques Senekal — (Resigned October 2016)
The Fund directors for the past year were:
Johann Combrink - Chairman
Dries van Coller — Vice-chairman
Stan Burger - Ex officio
Jacques Senekal - (Resigned. Peter Ruddle will serve the rest of his term)
The following members headed up the subcommittees which helped Exco take informed decisions:
Awards — Craig Maartens
Convention — Tharia Unwin
Disciplinary — Dries v Coller
Financial Committee — Johan vd Berg
Membership — Craig Maartens
Professional Body — Ben Heystek
Special Tasks — Stan Burger
PHASA Provincial Champions
Personally, I relied heavily on the provincial champions. PHASA wishes to thank you all for your loyalty and dedication to the association.
Eastern Cape — Dave Davenport
Free State — Carel Coetzer
Gauteng — Johan Seyffert
KwaZulu-Natal — Johan van den Berg and Henning Klipp
Limpopo — Phillip Bronkhorst
Mpumalanga — William Jardine and Roche Du Plessis
Northern Cape — Strauss Jordaan
North West — Jacques Senekal
Western Cape — Matt van Zyl
Office and Administration
The association revolves around Joan Mills, Marianna Louwrens, Tersia du Plooy and Nonkie Kunene. I can’t wish for a better team of professionals to work with. The association is run like a well-oiled machine, and I wish to thank my predecessor and PHASA’s past leadership for that.
At the end of the 2014/15 financial year, PHASA membership stood at 1 119, comprising 460 outfitters; 552 professional hunters; and 57 associate, 28 international and 22 field members. Some members resigned, or lost their membership, due to non-compliance with PHASA’s 2015 resolution on captive-bred lion hunting. The decline in membership can also be attributed to members retiring or passing away. The drought and downturn in the global economy also played a major role.
The membership database is constantly being upgraded to enable PHASA to verify and update records, identify trends and better serve our members. For example, all current PH or HO permits are being captured, so that all licensees in a province (and not just those residing there) may receive the relevant province’s notifications.
Marketing, Media and Public Relations
A minimum of 52 electronic newsletters are distributed annually to keep members abreast of PHASA activities and sector-related news. Members are encouraged to contribute, comment and participate in a wide range of issues, for example, legislation, research and events.
At the time of going to press, provincial meetings had taken place in all but one province. PHASA meetings are ideal platforms for members to share concerns and ideas with management (and each other), and obtain first-hand information about PHASA activities.
PHASA’s website and Facebook page received many visits and PHASA plans on giving both these platforms and its corporate image a facelift, in line with its new public relations strategy.
PHASA attended the Dallas Safari Club as well as Safari Club International conventions in America and had a booth at HuntEx Gauteng and Eastern Cape.
Over the past three years, Jean du Plessis and Associates have done invaluable work in establishing PHASA as an authoritative source of information on hunting in southern Africa. The alliances established with local and international media houses will stand us in good stead for years to come.
A billboard along the R24 with the message, “Hunters care … Do you?”, formed part of PHASA’s awareness campaign, and was well noted and commented on by the public and CITES CoP17 delegates.
New challenges, especially around social media trends, necessitated the revision of PHASA’s public relations strategy. Consequently, PHASA appointed Mystic Studio as its new PR, media and design company in September 2016.
PHASA’s public relations initiative is funded by like-minded associations and donors, and the continuation of this programme will depend on their continued generosity. A sincere word of thanks to Safari Club Foundation, for their sponsorship of this initiative.
PHASA ended the 2015/16 financial year with a small surplus. The results are published in this conference manual and will be presented by the Chairperson of the Financial Committee at the AGM on 23 November 2016.
On the global front, the economy is strained. In the year ahead, PHASA will face several challenges which necessitate strict financial control and curtailment of expenses. We remain confident that these financial constraints will not adversely affect PHASA’s ability to serve its members.
Technology has put hunting under the spotlight. It is not so much what we do, but how we do it that draws attention.
PHASA is fighting the good fight to restore the reputational damage caused by the likes of Cecil-the-lion, Cheeky-the-Bear, Teen-Hunts-Giraffe, starving predators behind fences and the shooting of captive lions that took place years ago. Unfortunately, our own PHs, Outfitters and clients are not without blame. Hunting is not a spectator sport. Time and again, photos, video clips or comments surface on social media, and cause mass hysteria among the public and animal rights activists. Overall, it is time to speak out on legal and ethical hunting, and its important role in conservation. We need to show the world the other side of the coin, so that the majority of people who have not yet formed an opinion, can make up their minds about hunting based on facts and not just emotion.
Sadly, we continue to see countries and service providers banning the importation or handling of hunting trophies. Never has the time been so right to unite than now.
We are experiencing uncertain times in South Africa. The instability and unrest at institutions of higher learning; turmoil within the governing party; possible prosecution of key ministers and the President; poor track record of the Department of Immigration in processing in and outbound tourists; restrictive and fragmented legislation, plus the volatility of our economy and the imminent threat of junk status are not conducive to the economic growth of any business, let alone one as controversial as ours.
PHASA is maintaining and establishing international relationships. We were invited guests of US Ambassador Patrick Gaspard at events held at his official residence.. We also attended a cocktail reception at the US Consulate, at the invitation of Jessica Lappen, the Chargé d’Affaires, and Dan Ashe, Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, during the CITES conference. In addition, we hosted delegations from Pakistan and Cyprus.
The brightest star this year was the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). PHASA enjoys a cordial working relationship with the DEA and most of its provincial environmental offices. Minister Edna Molewa fully supports and defends our sector and speaks in favour of sustainable hunting on every possible platform. We salute Dr Molewa and her team for truly leading from the front, prior to and during CITES.
PHASA enjoys recognition from other departments, such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the South African Police Services (SAPS), the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the Department of Tourism, to name but a few.
Our association is a party to the Wildlife Forum, the Interprovincial Professional Hunting Committee (IPPHC) and the Hunters/SAPS Liaison Forum. It is around such boardroom tables that the way is paved for better overall co-operation.
As a member of the board of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, PHASA’s voice is heard in the highest chambers of Parliament. Problems regarding, among others, immigration and visas, are addressed with the Department of Home Affairs through this channel.
However, every cloud has a silver lining. The zero leopard quota for 2016 led to the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) taking cognisance of the possible contribution of the private sector towards balanced research. Consequently, Limpopo Hunters Liaison Forum, PHASA, the Fund, Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) and Southern African Wildlife College founded the Conservation Research Fund, on 27 April 2016. This led to the nomination of predator specialist Dr Nkabeng Maruping-Mzileni as the sustainable use sector’s representative on the SANBI’s advisory board.
A significant event on the 2016 calendar was the Biodiversity Lab. The wildlife sector was identified as having the biggest potential for socio-economic transformation in the country. The pledges made during this five-week workshop are beginning to bear fruit as the initiatives are rolled out in the provinces.
NW: Hermann Meyeridricks submitted comments to North West’s proposed amendments to its Biodiversity Act. We are confident that most of these recommendations will be considered favourably. Sadly, the NW Wildlife Forum did not meet this year.
KZN: PHASA attended the Hunting and Advisory Committee meeting during the first quarter of the year, but little progress had been made. We remain hopeful that the private sector will be allowed to contribute its expertise towards the finalisation of the new legislation.
PHASA attended the inauguration of Gauteng’s Biodiversity Forum on 18 November.
Through the participation of environmental officials in PHASA’s provincial meetings, the IPPHC and the open-door policy of HODs and senior officials, there is an open line of communication between PHASA and the DEA. Overall, the officials tasked with hunting are approachable and helpful. PHASA recognises the fact that they too have financial and other challenges, and we hope that we can help to lighten their load by proactively working towards working smarter, not harder.
The President and CEO visited most of the PHASA exhibitors during the 2016 Dallas Safari Club (DSC) and Safari Club International (SCI) conventions, while our staff ably provided advice and information to attendees at the PHASA booth. The early morning coffee meetings were well attended.
PHASA presented seminars, attended meetings and events, networked and affirmed sustainable use partnerships with like-minded associations such as Safari Club International (SCI), the SCI Foundation, Dallas Safari Club, Conservation Force, the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC), the International Professional Hunters’ Association (IPHA), the Dallas Frontline Foundation and the Wild Sheep Foundation.
PHASA also attended the Operators and Professional Hunters’ Association of Africa’s AGM, as well as events hosted by IPHA and the African Professional Hunters’ Association.
We joined the CIC and rekindled this partnership during the CITES conference, when PHASA and CIC worked together to arrange two highly successful press conferences and various private lunch meetings with delegates.
CITES CoP 17, held in Johannesburg from 24 September to 5 October 2016, was, without a doubt, the highlight on PHASA’s calendar. Some 3 500 delegates from 181 countries attended this high-profile, international event and numerous organisations exhibited at the Sandton Convention Centre. The Fund made it possible for us to have our own booth and to host a side event, where renowned environmentalist and author Ron Thomson delivered a speech that even silenced the animal rights activists present.
PHASA participated in the Hunters and Wildlife Associations of South Africa (HAWASA) exhibit. We wish to extend our appreciation to WRSA, the South African Predator Association, the Confederation of Hunting Associations of South Africa, the SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association and the Private Rhino Owners Association for the unity displayed in the run-up to and during CITES. A special word of thanks to every staff member and PHASA office-bearer for giving of their time, energy and expertise to contribute towards content for the HAWASA booth, participate in the plenaries, challenge the activists, lobby support, and attend and do presentations at the numerous side events.
Despite our diversity and differences, it was the camaraderie displayed among HAWASA members that gave us hope for hunting in this country. CIC’s message, “Keep Calm and Let Africa Speak”, was soon adopted by most African range states and their message was clear throughout the conference: “Stop meddling in Africa’s affairs!”
Hunting won a few battles at CITES, but the war to stop hunting altogether is far from over and we cannot let our guard down for one minute.
PHASA is a member of the Hunters’ Forum and attended all its meetings this year. Regular communications from this forum are shared with members in the PHASA newsletter.
Taxidermy/tannery/pack, dip and shipping
At the request of the DTI, PHASA facilitated talks between the DTI and taxidermy, trophy-handling, tanning and shipping stakeholders. A small task team brought most representatives of this value-adding hunting component together on 26 October, to attend the formal launch of the South African Tannery and Taxidermy Association.
As mentioned above, SANBI will recognise the hunting sector’s contribution towards data on which they can base their non-detrimental findings. Just as leopard populations and the allocation of sustainable off-take quotas are dependent on reliable data that can withstand the fiercest scrutiny, there are several other species and biospheres that depend on reliable statistics. Each one of us must accept responsibility for, and take ownership of information within the hunting sector. Our livelihoods depend on the well-being of our ecology. Without reliable information, we have nothing with which to defend trophy hunting. Please take a minute to complete the questionnaires and give support, where needed.
Professional body status
PHASA obtained professional body status in 2014 and underwent its first mid-term audit in September. Ben Heystek was co-opted to perform the data loads of PHASA members for the designation ‘professional hunter’ on the SAQA’s national database. Both the May and November data loads were successful.
The provincially recognised professional hunting schools, as well as CATHSSETA/SAQA-accredited training and certification, will be recognised by PHASA.SH
2016 has not been an easy year for professional hunting in South Africa. It is my heartfelt wish that members will support their own association, take hands with like-minded national and global partners, and form a united front. We have to counter the avalanche of challenges threatening professional hunting and our natural environment, which we, and the communities close to us, depend on for our livelihoods.
Chief Executive Officer