Extract from the Annual Report presented by President, Hans Vermaak, at the36th PHASA Annual General Meeting
I thoroughly enjoyed my term as PHASA President. It was a privilege and an honour, and I am extremely grateful to have been afforded this opportunity. It has been rewarding period of my life; I believe I have contributed a lot and that I have also learnt a great deal.
I view my term as ‘my time to contribute’ to the hunting fraternity, conservation, empowerment and social responsibilities, as well as this association, which has done so much for each one of us for the last 36 years. PHASA is a phenomenal association; we are on top of our game in every aspect of the association’s responsibilities, mission and goals. Our effectiveness seems to improve each year as the demand for efficiency increases.
The appointment of Adri as PHASA CEO played a major role. Each lady in the office contributes to PHASA’s successes on a daily basis. I have been privileged to get to know them during the last two years, and I believe we are fortunate to have such wonderful people as our ambassadors, as the faces of PHASA when people visit the office, and at the various shows we attend locally and internationally. On behalf of all PHASA members, I thank each of you for your hard work and, most of all, for your dedication.
Serving our members
• Based on the mandate we received from members, the donation issue was pursued vigorously in 2012. We succeeded in creating a new awareness within the clubs and the hunting fraternity regarding the negative and positive aspects of donated hunts. I also served on the SCI Exhibitors’ committee, and made what I would like to think is a valuable contribution to SCI, in terms of all exhibitors, but especially PHASA members.
• We opened up the PHASA house as a stopover for members and non-members, at very reasonable rates. We decided to make some improvements to the PHASA house and converted the garages into a ‘club house’. We plan to fit a bar, a comfortable lounge and more, but most importantly, regalia that will accurately depict the association’s history. We will be calling on the dagga boys to provide us with old photographs, awards and other items that will accurately portray this association’s history.
• The regional meetings have been a great success. I believe that the effort and cost of these meetings have paid off. We have been able to connect with members across the country, hear their concerns and, at the same time, inform them of developments within the hunting industry, and more. The provincial champions in the various provinces have done a fantastic job in arranging the meetings and gathering the troops. I know this is demanding on their time, which they give freely. A huge thank you to every one of you. There are some aspects of the regional meetings that need to be improved on, the Exco has some ideas for the future.
• The Lion Task Team members, comprising Bill Daly, Sandy MacDonald, Paul Stones, Jan-Tier du Plessis, Hermann Meyeridricks, Apie Reyneke, Adri and I, worked hard this year, and devoted many hours and days to this important issue. In October, the task team presented a proposal to the PHASA Executive Committee for the way forward regarding captive-bred lion hunting.
This proposal was accepted by the PHASA Exco and will, therefore, be taken to the workshops during the PHASA convention, to be panel-beaten by members. Consequently, PHASA’s final position on this controversial topic will be determined at the AGM. SAPA, in particular Professor Potgieter, has been extremely co-operative and willing, and I thank them for this.
• PHASA has applied for Professional Body Status, which means that we are going to be the only professional hunting association officially recognised by our government. This automatically gives us more credibility. In addition, it allows us to have a say, or even take control of the PH training system in the future.
PHASA can accept the current training system, as well as the SAQA system, as long as we have an underlying qualification from a recognised training model. This topic will be explained and work shopped in the build-up to our AGM, and I’m sure that our members will embrace this necessary change. Recognition of prior learning (RPL) will be extended to members who are already licensed Professional Hunters. Admittedly, there is still some unknown ground that we need to navigate, but I am confident that this will not be an insurmountable hurdle.
• We tackled members of another association across our borders that continuously lambasted South Africa and South African PHs. I believe that we have resolved our differences, and we will continue to work together for the benefit of the hunting fraternity and conservation.
• This year, we embarked on some social responsibility projects through the Conservation and Empowerment Fund (the Fund), chaired by Dries Van Coller. We teamed up with Toys for Africa, which has a mission of providing every child in South Africa with a toy and schooling equipment. In three months, we provided 12 000 children with schooling equipment and a toy, and we shared a conservation message with them, focusing on sustainable utilisation. I wish to urge members to contribute to the Fund, as our social responsibilities are crucial for the country, as well as for the image of hunters. I thank all members and non-members who have contributed to the Fund.
• We have taken the bold, but crucially important step of hiring a PR Company, Du Plessis Associates, for PHASA. This is a decision that is very close to my heart, and especially my mind. Through the misinformation campaign by animal rightist groups, the media have become opposed to hunting.
Originally, discussions about hiring a PR company were held between PHASA and a few other local associations. They withdrew for their own reasons and Exco decided that, if we didn’t take this bold step, nobody would do it for us — another example of PHASA leading the way.
During the business session, Jean du Plessis owner of the PR Company will be talking to us, they come highly recommended and I am confident that, over time, we as a hunting fraternity will reap the rewards.
I once again wish to thank SCI, DSC and the WSF for their substantial assistance in funding this drive for the first year. I also wish to convey my thanks to the attendees of our Heritage Gala Dinner, who contributed R100 000 through pledge forms that evening, as well as some of the donors who dedicated their hunts to this drive.
• Financially, PHASA is the strongest it has ever been. We have a surplus of just under R1 million, which stems from the unbelievable success we enjoyed at last year’s AGM Gala Dinner and other income items that were substantially over budget, such as medal sales, membership fees, firearm import permits and a few others.
It is vital that we grow our reserves. One day, mark my words, we will need them urgently. This association’s finances are managed wisely and PHASA needs to be viewed as a business. Joan and Adri have done an impeccable job, and they must be applauded for their stellar efforts and attention to detail in this regard. Herman’s assistance as Chairman of the finance committee is also greatly appreciated.
• We have been working on the production of a new PHASA promotional DVD, which you will all get to see for the first time at this AGM. I believe that we have created a DVD that achieves a number of important goals. It not only promotes PHASA (accurately) as the most dynamic and proactive PH association on earth, but it also promotes South Africa as a world-class hunting and tourist destination, and the value of sustainable utilisation as a conservation tool.
Dark Continent Video Productions and, especially, Rayno Egner have done an outstanding job. I thank the folks who were interviewed in this DVD for supporting PHASA. I urge members to become involved in educating the general public on the role that hunting plays in conservation. We can make a difference by taking small steps in this regard, by taking the time to give a short talk at our local school, the golf club or any venue where people are prepared to listen, even if it is in a major hunting zone. We the hunting fraternity, need to have a deeper knowledge on this topic, to say “if it pays it stays” doesn’t cut the cake anymore, regardless of how true it is.
• The Ministers’ Indaba is scheduled to be held on 11 and 12 November, and this will be included in my report at the AGM. The 2012 Indaba was groundbreaking, and resulted in the hunting fraternity being recognised and applauded by government like never before. I am confident that this will happen again because what we do today, will lay the foundation for how Africa’s wildlife will be conserved for generations to come.
• We worked closely with the DEA and the provincial departments this year. The national registration system, which has received criticism from certain quarters, is, I believe, a step in the right direction towards a national licensing system. This is the end goal, which was made very clear by the DEA and the provinces.
• PHASA has made detailed and comprehensive comments on the controversial maps, as well as the TOPS regulations. Adri, who submits the proposals and suggested changes (with our assistance), does so with impeccable attention to detail and because of her efforts, PHASA is always commended for our professional approach and worthwhile contributions.
• The PHASA Exco decided to place a vote of no confidence against the North West provincial department. We called on our members to submit all relevant documentation relating to problems they have experienced with the North West. Unfortunately, the response wasn’t comprehensive enough, and we believe that many members never responded for fear of being ‘earmarked’ by this department, which would understandably adversely affect future dealings with them.
• The two-tier membership system implemented at last year’s AGM has worked out well. Our membership numbers are strong and our income from membership fees has been in line with what we budgeted for the year. I believe that our membership fees are now realistically based. I thank the Outfitters who have accepted the huge increase in their membership fees; your support is greatly appreciated.
• We are continually forging good relations with the hunting associations north of our borders, and attended another fruitful and successful AWCF meeting in Zambia. Our relationship with the international clubs is stellar; we have their support and they have ours. However, we will continue to engage with them on differences that we really feel should be addressed.
Community Development and Empowerment
The PHASA Executive Committee and the Fund Directors have agreed, in principle, to embark on a groundbreaking project, which involves developing a prime hunting safari destination on community-owned land. In addition to developing a hunting location for our members, we will also ensure the training of black professional hunters, housekeepers, cooks, butchery workers, anti-poaching teams and more.
It is vital that we make a success of this project because the future of wildlife in South Africa lies in it being valued by all people, so that it will be protected. The ultimate goal is for the project to become self-sustaining and for the community to run with it.
There is still a great deal of work to be done before we can actually embark on this. This will be a PHASA flagship project that we hope will set the standard for other projects around the country.
I thank Peter Ruddle and Dries van Coller for their assistance in laying the foundations for this project through their efforts. I remind members that this initiative is still an embryo.
There have been a number of requests from members for PHASA to consider ‘family’ memberships, and company memberships. These are aspects that the PHASA Exco can look into overtime.
I urge PHs and Outfitters who aren’t members, to become part of our family, to join the ranks of the most respected Professional Hunters in South Africa. I remind Outfitters to ensure that they only employ PHs who are PHASA members, and to support these PHs before others.
There is talk of another PH association being born from the ranks of our friends in the local hunting associations. This is of no concern to me because PHASA will continue to focus on what we are good at. We will continue to have an extraordinary impact on this industry in South Africa and we will always be the leaders because of the fact that we are proactive, dynamic and effective.
We are extremely damaging to ourselves when we post, share or place distasteful images in the social media and on other networks. On sites such as Landmark Foundation, there is a collection of the most horrific photographs taken by hunters, which are posted and shared daily by this group to drum up support against us, the hunting fraternity.
The hunters who ignorantly post distasteful images are destroying all the good work we do to prove to the world that hunting is a viable and important conservation tool. I urge all our members and non-members to educate their clients on why they should not post distasteful images/videos etc. We need to be aware of our responsibilities to society.
When engaging with animal rightists or their supporters (the uninformed) in the social media, it is vital to always maintain the moral high ground, stick to the facts and never stoop to their level by making derogatory statements of a personal nature.
If you happen to see a distasteful post in the social media posted by a hunter, or a hunter who is out of line, don’t be afraid to gently correct the person without being offensive. There is a great deal of ignorance out there that we have to address.
There were very few complaints resulting in major disciplinary issues in 2013. While the majority have been dealt with, there are a few still outstanding, which will be dealt with early next year. I want to reassure members that, in many instances when complaints were received, we determined that our members were not at fault. The majority of complaints we receive are linked to people who are not PHASA members and this is a trend we have noted for years.
Dewald van der Berg from Werksmans has been an incredible help by giving of his free time and guidance and advice this year. He assisted us in his free time and I cannot thank him enough for his valuable input. I must also thank Herman and Adri for their time in this regard; it’s a tough task that does take up time. Going forward, PHASA has to streamline its disciplinary process, currently certain aspects of it are cumbersome and can be unnecessarily costly to the association.
North West Survey
The North West University Survey was not well supported by our members; I find this very disconcerting. I cannot fathom how the value of this survey, which is a first of its kind in the country, could not have been appreciated and supported with enthusiasm.
I am sorry, but this is not acceptable. Our industry is only as strong as we make it; without accurate figures, we can’t effectively promote it to this nation and its leaders. I urge members to wake up to reality: we can’t sit back and watch the world go by without making a valuable contribution to the things we believe in, and we need to stop expecting somebody else to do it for us.
Nevertheless, North West was able to compile a result based on the feedback they received, and I thank them (and PHASA) for this brilliant initiative.
Steve Smith was Chairman of the first PHASA AGM on 28 February 1978, one year after Kenya stopped all forms of sustainable utilisation. His closing words were ‘I thank you all for attending and I sincerely hope that this will go down in the history of hunting as the first general meeting of what will be known as the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa, to be known and respected throughout the world as an association of true professionals in the field of sportsmanlike hunting and conservation.’
These are powerful words with a powerful message. I believe that we have achieved more than Uncle Stevie ever dreamt of for this association, and I am sure that he would have been very proud of all of us today. The successes of PHASA yesterday and today, as well as those that will take place tomorrow, are because of the solid foundations that this association is built on!
I extend a special thank you to the PHASA Exco of 2012 and 2013, for their support and dedication. The PHASA ladies who man the fort daily do us proud, and Adri’s work ethic, coupled with her commitment to PHASA, is quite remarkable. I wish Herman and his new Executive Committee the very best for the future, and I know that PHASA is in excellent hands.
I wish you all a happy and healthy festive season, and successful marketing trips in 2014. Most importantly, I urge you all to be proud hunters, to conduct yourselves according to the PHASA code of conduct, and to recognise the importance of sharing not only the ‘hunt’, but also the passion you have for wildlife and wild places with your clients! I urge you to always remember that we are a fraternity of outdoorsmen and women who are privileged to spend most of our time in the great outdoors and to never take any aspect of what we do for granted.
EXTRACT OF THE ANNUAL REPORT GIVEN AT THE 36th PHASA ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING, BY THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, ADRI KITSHOFF
I’m writing this report with a sense of excitement. When our outgoing President, Hans Vermaak, took up his position two years ago, one of his dreams was for PHASA to have a ‘clubhouse’ where members could meet and relax.
We are currently in the process of changing the double garage at the office into such a facility, which will be cosy enough for members to sit and relax, or meet with old friends, but spacious enough for us to display, for example, our memorabilia of the past 35 years of PHASA’s existence and our clothing range. I want to invite all members to stop by and spend some time at the office. Bring your clients along to experience PHASA’s hospitality and have a glimpse of our history.
So much has happened in 2013 and, looking back at all we’ve achieved, I have a sense of fulfilment and am proud to be part of the PHASA family. In the next issue of the magazine, we will include summarised copies of the annual reports presented at the November convention by our President, the Fund Chairman and myself, and give full feedback on the convention.
It was indeed an extremely busy year, which included, among others:
• Attendance of international conventions; CITES; various forum meetings with the DEA, SAPS, SABS and the Department of Tourism; and workshops with the Department of Foreign Affairs.
• Comments to draft legislation regarding, among others, changes to NEMBA (NEMLA); TOPS; translocation maps; the national register for PHs, HOs and school directors; the game meat scheme; norms and standards for the hunting industry; and provincial legislation.
• Seminars, local conventions and symposiums; advocacy and marketing; discussions and meetings with local and international associations; and, of course, assistance to our members, as well as non-members.
• Exco, Fund and various task team meetings, where in-depth discussions took place regarding many of the important issues which will also be discussed at our convention in November.
In my capacity as PHASA CEO, I have the privilege of meeting with Exco, Fund Directors, members, non-members, the media, people who support hunting and those who are against it, and the management and members of other associations within the wildlife fraternity of South Africa, Southern Africa and abroad. And I want to repeat … it is indeed a privilege because, no matter where I go or who I deal with, I can always proudly say that I represent PHASA. It’s such a pleasure to stand up anywhere in the world, knowing that you have backing from your Exco, Directors, staff and members.
It is, however, actually quite easy, as it is very much a case of ‘what you see, is what you get’. PHASA is a transparent organisation with no hidden agendas, where we focus on what is important to us, our field of expertise ... the professional hunting industry of South Africa.
Although all new members must sign a code of conduct when joining PHASA, I believe they subscribe to it out of their own free will because they believe in it. Thank you to all the members out there who, through your professionalism, promote South Africa as a respected and preferred hunting and tourism destination.
Once again, the ladies at the office were outstanding this year and I want to personally thank them for their role in taking our association from strength to strength. I also sincerely appreciate the guidance, support and assistance from Exco members and Fund Directors.
I must, however, single out one person, namely our outgoing President, Hans Vermaak, for the privilege of working with him for two years. It is extremely difficult to explain in a written report Hans’s passion and dedication to PHASA. Please believe me when I tell you that this man put PHASA first during the past two years, in more ways than one. His honest outlook, always weighing up what would be the best for our association, members and industry, has benefitted PHASA in a huge way. Thank you, Hans, on behalf of all our members and the industry as a whole.
Please travel safely wherever you’re going during the festive season and the marketing season abroad!