Trophy photo ban questioned

05 July 2018 | Environment

Questions are being raised about the enforceability and extent of a just-issued ban by the Namibian environment ministry that prohibits hunters with valid permits to post or send photographs of a fresh kill on social media platforms.

Minister Pohamba Shifeta told Namibian Sun this week that the prohibition is aimed at protecting Namibia's conservation linked hunting programme and that social media photos depicting hunters posing with dead animals are working in favour of anti-hunting groups worldwide.

“We are arming the pressure groups with social media photos showing a hunter with a dead animal. They can say that people are not hunting for conservation, but for the thrill of it. Those images trigger emotions in people.”

He said photos of trophy hunted animals are being used by pressure groups “as an excuse to call for a hunting ban. They are very critical and they say the hunters are not ethical.”

He said photos taken for private use, and even on websites, are not an issue, but further discussions with the industry will provide more clarity going forward.

He also noted that for now, the prohibition “is a matter of cooperation. We will first need further consultations, but for now there are no penalties, no criminal sanctions. Once we have established a law then we can issue penalties.”

Earlier this week Pohamba said photos of hunters with just-killed wildlife misrepresents the trophy hunting industry in the country, and does more damage than good.

“Hunting is permitted by the Namibian constitution. However, it is morally not correct to post such pictures,” he said.



Feedback so far

On social media, the ban has elicited mixed responses, with queries by professional hunters on both sides of the fence of the effectiveness and enforceability of the prohibition.

Members of the industry have noted that the ban could be unconstitutional, and that instead a good practice guide on the type of photos that can be shared on social media and websites to advertise trophy hunting in Namibia should regulate the issue of photos.

Namibia Professional Hunting Association CEO Tanja Dahl yesterday told Namibian Sun that the organisation has requested members to provide feedback and that a meeting with the ministry is being set up to get clarity and to hash out the finer points.

She underlined however that Napha “in principle welcomes and supports” the gist of the memorandum.

“We know a lot of people definitely publish pictures on social media that might be used incorrectly or wrongly.”

Dahl said “we need a well-organised, transparent hunting industry, plus the ministry is under a lot of pressure to ensure that trophy hunting can continue, considering its significant contribution to the GDP.”

Napha president Danene van der Westhuizen said she fully supports the ministry's statement “purely because some outfitters and some hunters have no regard or respect for animals.”

She described the ban as a “sad irony” however, because “ultimately this is our business and we have to advertise. But people are misbehaving and not doing it the correct way. I back the ministry.”

She also noted that there are questions around the enforceability and that stakeholder discussions are needed.

Van der Westhuizen emphasised that instead of advertising the industry with “trophy hunted dead animals”, outfitters should focus on advertising the “experience that Namibia offers. We should advertise the whole experience, the connecting with nature, the sunsets, endemic animals and the wild open spaces.”



JANA-MARI SMITH

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