UMBABAT – A male lion was hunted on the border of the Kruger National Park on Friday after conservationists lost the fight to prevent the hunt.
Kholofelo Nkambule, senior manager of communications and public relations for the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) confirmed on Monday that a male lion was shot by an unknown trophy hunter in the Umbabat Private Game Reserve four days ago.
This was according to Michele Pickover, speaking for the EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading, who opposed the hunt and was concerned that the lion was part of the Western Pride. “This has increased the ongoing tension in the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR) between lodges that rely on tourists, and hunting of animals,” she said.
Whether or not the lion was the dominant member of the Western Pride as dreaded, has not yet been confirmed.
“The biggest question is why the APNR reserves, of which Umbabat is part of, on the unfenced western boundary of KNP, are permitted to hunt animals from one of Africa’s premier, state-owned game reserves,” asked Pickover.
Initially the MTPA and SANParks opposed an application for the hunt and both parties required population information from the APNR and Umbabat. Based on the information that was later supplied on enquiry, the hunt of one lion that was regarded as sustainable at 1,3 per cent of population, was approved on February 22 (provided that it took place within the legal framework that is in place).
According to Nkambule, the reasons for approval were based on the Constitution of South Africa: Section 24 (b), (iii).
Seeing that this is such an emotive and controversial issue, chairman of the Ingwelala Share Block (a share block within Umbabat) Kevin Alborough, notified all stakeholders on Wednesday that the hunt was underway in Umbabat.
In a meeting held on May 27, in the presence of Umbabat warden Bryan Havemann, the process of applying and obtaining approval for species to be hunted each year and the correct protocols, was explained. Attendees were ensured that the leader of the Western Pride, named Skye, was not the target. An elderly male, that often encroached into the north-eastern region of Umbabat from the Kruger, was in the cross-hairs.
Whether or not this promise has been kept has not yet been confirmed. A recent report, that resulted in an outrage, stated that hunting a lion was expressly excluded by Kruger, but permission to hunt one was given anyway by the licensing authority, the MTPA.
To this, media specialist of SANParks, Isaac Phaahla, said they are not an authority that allows or gives permits for the hunting of animals, neither are they responsible for the monitoring of such activities, therefore it would be wrong of them to comment on the matter.
“The relevant authority that has overall responsibility is the MTPA. SANParks would like to urge those who have evidence of wrongdoing, to present evidence to the MTPA so that all those matters can be investigated,” he said.
“There are protocols and regulations that have to be followed by all reserves and areas open to the KNP, and this is guided by the policy framework on sustainable use or animal off takes for legal hunting,” he concluded.
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