Last week, the American branch of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a non-profit animal rights organisation, revealed the outcome of a private investigation into President Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala wildlife breeding operation, and a hunting company called Tsala Hunting Safaris.
They alleged that Ramaphosa and his employees have worked to conceal ties to trophy hunting, or as PETA put it, a ’’colonial blood sport’’.
PETA opposes the idea that animals can be traded as commodities or used for sport.
PETA’s statement via IOL, regarding the president:
‘’PETA has exposed, through a secret investigation, that President Cyril Ramaphosa not only breeds and sells animals to be shot and killed from his Phala Phala wildlife breeding operation but also owns stake in a hunting company called Tsala Hunting Safaris,“ the statement read.
’’That company conducts many of its hunts on a property called Diepdrift, which Ramaphosa owns and is quietly developing and expanding. There, as well as on partner properties, Tsala can arrange hunts of 42 different species, including the ’Big Five’: leopards, elephants, lions, rhinoceroses, and buffalo.”
They also claim that environmental authorities in South Africa issued no permits to hunt leopards, but that Tsala Hunting Safaris facilitates leopard hunts in Namibia and Mozambique.
PETA recorded conversations with “[Ramaphosa’s] managers Hendrik Von Wielligh and Rouan Nel”, who “admit that he shares equally in the profits from all hunts conducted through Tsala”.
Be forewarned, the footage at the start of the video shows an elephant being shot by hunters. You’ll find the conversation at the 2:19 mark:
Here is the gist of the recording:
’’One said, ’We try to keep the president’s name actually out of the hunting thing because … of all the greenies …. So he wanna spare himself this, how can I say, bad publicity and all of that. So … we gotta do it under a different name brand, where none of my name or his name are connected to it …. So that’s why we will keep always Phala Phala and Diepdrift and Tsala Safaris sort of separate from our Phala Phala brand.’’
PETA senior vice-president of International Campaigns Jason Baker says that South Africans should be aware of “Cyril Ramaphosa’s [alleged] investment in trophy hunting operations”.
Baker says that the ground borders on the Kruger National Park, and that elephants protected in the park can cross over into the hunting zone.
In a statement issued on behalf of the president and Phala Phala on Saturday, the Presidency said the accusations by PETA were “unfounded” and “patently false”, listing the following:
- Neither the President nor Phala Phala have a stake in the trophy hunting industry or in Tsala Hunting Safaris.
- Phala Phala is a privately owned wildlife farm whose business is breeding game. Tsala are privately owned hunting outfitters.
- Phala Phala has been in operation since 2010 and is run in accordance with the strictest conservation and wildlife management principles.
- Phala Phala’s wildlife breeding and management activities comply with best ethical and lawful practice in the sector.
They say that “Phala Phala undertakes annual culls of game such as impala, buffalo, kudu and wildebeest to avoid carrying excess numbers”.
Per The Citizen, since the statement was released, PETA has doubled down on their efforts to condemn Ramaphosa.
The Presidency has also responded to former allegations by the animal rights group regarding his interest in pigeon breeding.
“President Ramaphosa has been a pigeon breeder since the age of 16 and owned a flock of pigeons as a young man living in Soweto in the 1960s and ‘70s.”
The Presidency went on to add: “The president has been engaging with breeders in Soweto and the Western Cape about the development of the industry, as well as on the increased participation of young, black entrants in pigeon racing.
They claim further that PETA is using its global platforms to disseminate “false information”.
This is a fight likely to continue for some time.
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