Safeguarding the hunter from abroad
Since 1981, the hunting, outfitting and hunting industries became the object of new legislation to safeguard and protect the touring hunter. This legislation ensures that the overseas client experience a standard of expertise and service that one may expect from someone licensed to operate as a professional hunter. This legislation also demanded that, after such licenses were granted, they had to be maintained by obligatory inspections as well.
Since each province in the country have an own conservation department, legislation concerning the hunting industry may differ from area to area. This may include legislation concerning certain types of weapons, etc. However, both outfitters and professional hunters will be well informed about their own provinces requirements. Naturally, national legislation covers the central issues and the provincial legislation the regional aspects that takes the wildlife of the area itself into consideration. The national legislation, for example, stipulates that all outfitters and professional hunters obtain the necessary insurance that covers their profession's risks. The provincial legislation may decide on the use of bow hunting on certain species that is indigenous to that region.
Legally, a hunting outfitter or a professional hunter can obtain a license if:
- The candidates have past a first examinations which test knowledge of game animal's habits, social behaviour, breeding cycles, preparation and care of trophies and requirements for entering trophies into the record books (Rowland Ward and Safari Club International)
- The candidates have past a written examination of all the laws applicable to hunting in each province
- The candidate, after successfully completed the written exams, also passes a practical test in the bush about spoor identification, spoor tracking, evaluation at distances of horn lengths, skinning, shooting, knowledge of the bush, first aid, animal behaviour, hunting ability, extensive knowledge of firearms, and preparation and care of trophies
Only now the successful candidate is issued a license from the nature conservation authorities to operate. Up and above these requirements, the outfitter wishing to qualify as a professional outfitter, also have to apply to an obligatory standard of facilities, vehicles and personal that the authorities will inspect before granting the outfitters license. The outfitter's advertising also have to comply to set standards to avoid misleading advertising. Follow-up checks by officials are performed regularly.
Part of this legal requirements stipulates that, before the actual hunt takes place, a written agreement between outfitter and hunter is entered into to cover the expectations concerning the detailed costs (which means the trophy fees, the daily fees, etc.) duration of the safari and services provided on the one hand, and the species of game offered, the sex of the game the hunter intend to shoot, conditions of payment etc. on the other hand.
By law, the outfitter also has to obtain all the documents and hunting permits needed. Once a trophy animal was brought down, the outfitter has the responsibility to remove the trophy from the hunting area and handle and dispatched it in the correct manner. The outfitter has to facilitate the hunter's lodging, meals, and transportation professionally. As was mentioned, the legislation also covers the way in which he is allowed to advertise.
In 1990, the government opted for the privatization of the examinations and licensing of professional hunters. Since then, only the very highest standards prevailed in the few private professional hunting schools.
The professional hunter's responsibilities includes:
- to be present for the whole duration of the safari to fulfill the supervising role
- to ensure that the laws governing game hunting is adhered to, and at the same time that the conditions stipulated in the hunter's contract is met
- to report any illegal behaviour
- to be a source of knowledge about the bush, the hunt and conservation to the client
What this legislation means for the foreign client is protection against misleading hunting promises or deals, it means that standards are set and met, it means that he will encounter professionals that are licensed because they proved that they could provide and sustain the high standards set by law.
The standards of hunting in South Africa today is something the country may be proud of. You may still find the odd misleading advertisement, but when tourists asks for proof of adherence to the legislation, an unlicensed outfitter will quickly be identified and if a foreign client chooses to use an unlicensed outfitter he is on the thin edge of our country's law.
Any hunter have the right to report a complaint should he or she feels to be at the losing end of a hunting deal or suspected any unethical behaviour.