Battles loom in Africa over hunting and vivisection
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2001:
NAIROBI, HARARE, JOHANNESBURG–The humane movement in
Africa may presently be going to the dogs, because the street dogs
are the most ubiquitous and vulnerable animals, but the battles of
the future are forming over sport hunting and vivisection.
With the use of animals in European and American laboratories
increasingly under activist scrutiny and restricted by law,
vivisectors are looking toward Africa as a potentially congenial new
Hunters, an aging and declining coterie in the U.S. and
Canada, are also trying to expand their welcome in Africa–and hunt
promoters in Kenya and KwaZulu-Natal are eager to grab their
business, over the objections of many Masai and Zulu tribe members,
who consider sport hunting profane.
Both tribes are traditionally herders, whose economy centers
on cattle. Their warriors have always hunted animals who prey on
lifestock or threaten humans, but have looked down on tribes who
routinely eat wild animals.
The Masai, the dominant tribe in Kenya, made abolishing
sport hunting a priority after Kenya won independence from Britain in
1963. A hunting ban took effect in 1967 and was reaffirmed in 1976
under the Hunting and Wildlife Management Act. Masai have
subsequently ascended to most of the higher positions within the
Kenya Wildlife Service. Many have been killed in defending animals
against poachers, especially heavily armed elephant ivory poachers
associated with Somalian militias.
Hunters meanwhile have tried repeatedly to rescind the
hunting ban. In June 2001 the Kenya Wildlife Service at least
temporarily quashed the effort of a group of ranchers from Laikipia
and Mach-akos to start a Bird Game Conserv-ation and Management
Authority, meant to authorize bird shooting.
Soon afterward, British news media disclosed that Prince
William, 19, had illegally shotgunned a protected ibis on an April
visit to Laikipia.
The Zulu, dominant in much of South Africa, are at last in
a position to manage wildlife their own way, for the first time in
more than a century, and mean to do it rather differently from South
African convention, Fiona MacLeod of the Johannesburg Mail &
Guardian reported in late June.
“At the heart of the former Zulu empire between Empangeni and
the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve complex,” MacLeod wrote, the
future Royal Zulu Reserve and Biosphere “will form part of the
largest conservation area in Kwa-Zulu-Natal–second in size [in
southern Africa] only to Kruger National Park. King Dingiswayo’s
descendants, the Mtethwas, and their neighbors, the Biyela clan,
want their animals back–and they are clear that commercial hunting
should not be a part of their future.”
Said Ms. Nokwethemba Biyela, a former member of Parlia-ment
who helped start the project, “Animals like leopards and lions are
signs from God. When the animals were gone, there were no more
signs. Hunting the animals was a mistake. Traditionally, hunting
took place only for rare ceremonies, and it was done properly. A
lion is like a godfather: you cannot let just anybody kill him.”
The Royal Zulu Reserve occupies land obtained from the South
African government in settlement of claims filed for land that was
stolen from the Zulu early in the 20th century. More is to be
purchased with $1 million in grants from the Department of
Agriculture and Land Affairs. While prime agricultural land will be
kept in crops, and residential and commercial property will remain
in residential and commercial use, the Royal Zulu Reserve will form
the center and chief economic engine of the new Zulu homeland.
“Six tribal authorities have already undertaken to add their
own land to the reserve,” MacLeod reported. “This land is crucial
because it abuts the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, which has
agreed to drop its boundary fence with the Royal Zulu Reserve ‘when
the time is appropriate.'”
Explained Lawrence Anthony, founder of the effort, “If we
are to avoid Zimbabwe-style invasions of conservation land in the
future, we need major projects that get black communities involved
as owners of conservation.”
Across the country, the Makuleke tribe in 1997 settled their
land claims by taking one of the northern sections of Kruger National
Park, from which they had been forcibly evicted in 1969. They then
scandalized their international sympathizers by opening it to trophy
hunting. Raising about $60,000 by selling the lives of two elephants
and two Cape buffalo in 2000, they hope to top $100,000 in 2001 from
the deaths of two elephants, four buffalo, four nyalas, four
impalas, three zebras, an eland, and a kuku.
The Royal Zulu Reserve has gone the opposite direction,
providing sanctuary to eight elephants who were to have been shot for
trophies, plus Sahib, 20, who spent 18 years in a German circus
after he was orphaned by a Zimbabwean cull hunt. Northern Province
wildlife officials refused to let Sahib go to a refuge there,
claiming this “would not contribute significantly to elephant
conservation,” the purpose of the reserve. But they could not
interfere in KwaZulu-Natal.
KwaZulu-Natal authorities allowed Sahib to come, but appear
worried that the popularity of the Royal Zulu Reserve could undermine
support for hunting-centered conservation strategy.
Less than two weeks after MacLeod’s article went to press,
the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service and Hartog Zuma, chair
of the Impendle Traditional Hunters’ Association, summoned media to
witness a “traditional” reedbuck deer hunt with dogs. Twenty-five
hunters of African descent used 50 greyhounds, not a breed native to
South Africa, to flush 15 deer.
“Dogs were set on three prime males only,” Darran Morgan of
the Mail & Guardian reported, “and the reedbuck rams showed a clean
pair of heels each time.”
Ostensibly the “experimental” hunt was held on the Robert
Smith sheep-and-cattle ranch near Dargle to see whether “traditional”
hunting with dogs could be done without conflict with farmers.
Farmers in the vicinity have indeed shot dogs used by hunters of
African descent in recent years, and there has been trouble over it.
The hunting tradition of most concern, however, may have
been British-style fox hunting, done from horseback, and
“lurching,” done afoot. Many British hunts accommodate both riders
and lurchers. Efforts to ban hunting with dogs remain stalled in the
British and Scots Parliaments, but have had consistent majority
support in public opinion polls for more than a decade–which
suggests to South African entrepreneurs that there may be money to be
made by hosting hunts with dogs, when and if the long anticipated
bans take effect, for Britons and Scots who are unwilling to kick
the blood sports habit.
While concerned about the possible effect on “conservation”
of rescuing Sahib, Northern Province officials seem to have ignored
the whole concept at the Manyeleti Game Reserve, environment
reporter Russel Molefe wrote in the July 13 edition of The Sowetan.
“The Mnisi community in the Bushbuckridge area is shocked by
the appalling state of Manyeleti,” Molefe said, “where the few
animals left are a sad reminder of what once was. Authorities could
not account for the large number of animals who have “disappeared”
from the reserve, which is already being ‘commercialized’–a term
used for the privatisation of tourism facilities and services. All
in all, 41 game reserves are to be commercialised in the provice
because they have been neglected to the extent that they are now in a
most appalling state.”
Manyeleti-Andover Community Development Trust consultant Neil
Harmse told Molefe that the missing animals were lost when
“subsistence poaching” was allowed to expand into “commercial
poaching,” including snaring animals as large as Cape buffalo.
Zimbabwe was until recently the foreign trophy hunters’
African destination of choice, not least because the U.S. hunting
establishment all but owned Zimbabwean wildlife policymaking and law
No nation in Africa has received more outside funding for
wildlife conservation during the past decade than Zimbabwe,
repeatedly appropriated through the influence of members of Congress
with close ties to Safari Club International– like Don Young, chair
of the House Resources Committee 1993-2000.
Since 1989, when the contributions were first authorized by
President George Bush, who like his son President George W. Bush is
a Safari Club life member, USAid has given more than $30 million to
the Communal Areas Management Program For Indigenous Resources,
CAMPFIRE for short.
The CAMPFIRE “sustainable use” strategy revolves around the
notion of auctioning the right to shoot elephants and rhinos to rich
It has worked well for Safari Clubbers, but not for either
the animals or most Zimbabweans. Even at peak, CAMPFIRE raised only
about $2.5 million a year in program revenue, functioning mainly as
a conduit for payoffs to Robert Mugabe regime insiders. Allegedly
among them was Mugabe’s sister Sabina, Godfrey Marawanyika of the
Zimbabwe Independent dared to hint in November 2000.
When 114 villagers in Gokwe North in late 1999 resisted the
seizure of their crop patches to create “a buffer zone for safari
activities,” the Zimbabwe Standard reported, CAMPFIRE backers
torched their homes, possessions, and food stores, and kidnapped
four of their children, ages 4-13, who were dumped at a distant
After the farm invasions of the past two years disrupted or
halted operations at many well-known Zimbabwean hunting ranches,
however, most hunters quit coming.
In early 2001, after courting wealthy U.S. trophy hunters
during a visit to Las Vegas, Zimbab-wean environment and tourism
minister Francisco Nhema tried to lure some of them back by hosting
“trial hunts” of hooved species using crossbows and handguns, and of
leopards using dogs.
The Zimbabwe Associ-ation of Tour and Safari Operators
predicted that each hunt could bring in as much as $25,000, but the
returns were disappointing.
For opposing the hunts, and for pointing out that hunting
leopards with dogs is technically illegal in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe
National SPCA was accused by the Bulawayo Daily Herald of attempting
to undermine the already tottering Zimbabwean economy.
But it was a mob of an estimated 100 squatters who reportedly
chased a hunting party off the Cedric Wilde ranch in Matabeleland
North and out of Zimbabwe during the first week in July, costing the
economy the $42,000 they had expected to spend.
The CAMPFIRE strategy is based on the “sustainable use”
doctrine advanced since 1961 by the World Wildlife Fund, formed by
wildlife artist and trophy hunter Peter Scott with hunting pals
Prince Philip of England, Prince Rainier of Monaco, Prince
Bernhardt of The Netherlands, and whaling baron Aristotle Onasis.
Their motivation, frankly expressed at the time, was that the newly
independent African nations would follow the example of India, and
Kenya after 1966, and halt recreational hunting. They sought to
prevent that by funding the wildlife management departments of the
new nations, more-or-less as the National Wildlife Federation
arranged for U.S. wildlife management to be funded by taxes on
hunting licenses and equipment.
Instead of taxing hunters, however, WWF raised money
directly from the public, to “save animals,” seldom if ever
mentioning the pro-hunting agenda in appeals.
WWF and other pro-hunting organizations often cite South
Africa as an example of successful sustainable consumptive use. The
Uganda Wildlife Authority, headed since 1998 by former South African
National Parks chief G.A. “Robbie” Robinson, on September 18
introduced sport hunting to Lake Mburo National Park, hoping to
emulate the South African model.
Both wildlife viewing and trophy hunting have boomed in South
Africa since apartheid ended. But the ongoing transfer of
governmental authority over wildlife management to majority rule has
had rough spots. A series of scandals involving the Mpumalanga Parks
Board has encouraged traditionalists to assert, much as the WWF
founders did in 1961, that people of African ancestry are incapable
of management without corruption– although many of the alleged
perpetrators have been flushed out by internal audits and sent to
Kruger National Park, the jewel of the South African
National Parks, has meanwhile claimed significant profits in each of
the three years it has been managed by current director David
Mabunda. Mabunda, however, was accused of mismanagement by
opposition political parties and disgruntled ex-staff in early 2001,
after he laid off 513 employees to cope with a cash flow crunch.
Critics claimed the cash flow problem resulted from
embezzling, discovered by an internal audit at the Satara camp, one
of the most popular overnight accommodations at Kruger. Similar
activities were alleged to be going on at other facilities within
Mabunda responded that the biggest part of the cash flow
problem may simply have been overstaffing due to cronyism among the
As in Zimbabwe, many observers of South African wildlife
management suspect some of the top authorities are more interested
in finding ways to sell elephant ivory and rhino horn than in making
nonconsumptive use work. Before majority rule, the South African
military funded covert operations in nearby nations through ivory
poaching and smuggling. Some people nominally involved in
anti-poaching activity actually worked for both sides. Whether or
not they are still in positions of influence, the South African
stockpiles of elephant ivory and rhino horn are an evident temptation
to others whose incomes and authority are shrinking with the economy
of the struggling nation.
Just maintaining old levels of authority seems to have become
an obsession in some departments, exemplified by disputes over the
eradication of feral Himalyan tahrs from Table Mountain, overlooking
Cape Town, and the fate of three orphaned caracals who were rescued
in August 2000 by the nonprofit Kalahari Raptor Centre.
Related to goats and antelope, Himalayan tahrs are
endangered in their native India. Under 2000 are believed to remain
in the wild, but translocated feral populations thrived until
recently at Table Mountain and in New Zealand.
The Table Mountain colony started in 1935, after a newly
arrived pair escaped from the Groote Schnur Zoo. Despite the
limitations of the habitat, which is surrounded entirely by human
development, the tahrs persisted, while native hooved stock died
out or were poached to extermination.
Seeking World Heritage Site status for Table Mountain and
Cape Peninsula National Park, SANParks deemed the tahrs an invasive
alien menace and set about killing them all. Park officials killed
57 tahrs with lethal drug darts during 2000, over intense protest
from the South African humane community, led by an ad hoc group
called Friends of the Tahr. SANParks proposed shooting the estimated
31 remaining tahrs by helicopter gunnery in early 2001, but India
asked that they be repatriated instead to help rebuild the wild herds.
SANParks on March 23 suspended the killing for six months to
give Indian cabinet minister Maneka Gandhi, the Wildlife Trust of
India, and Friends of the Tahr time to arrange for the tahrs to be
net-gunned from helicopters by a New Zealand team and flown to
India–and to seek funding for it.
The World Conservation Union then objected that the Table
Mountain tahrs are “invasive” despite their low numbers, should be
removed immediately, and should not be allowed to mix with the
remaining wild tahrs lest they carry negative inbred genetic traits.
As time ran out, Friends of the Tahr raised enough money in
Britain, with the help of former model and longtime cat rescuer
Celia Hammond, to bring New Zea-land helicopter net-capture expert
James Innes to Table Mountain. Innes’ company Helicopter Wildlife
Management has reputedly caught more than 17,000 wild animals for
wildlife agencies around the world. Vishwas Sawarkar, dean of the
Wildlife Institute of India, joined Innes as an official emissary of
the Indian government.
They discovered just seven surviving tahrs during a 90-minute
helicopter inspection of Table Mountain. SANParks, however,
refused to meet with them–reportedly because they were not invited
guests of South Africa. As ANIMAL PEOPLE went to press, SANParks
still planned to shoot the last tahrs when the moratorium expires on
Said Friends of the Tahr in a press release, “This is about
transparency, accountability, ethical conservation, and the
acceptance of all animals as sentient beings. Documents in
possession of Friends of the Tahr show that SANParks fears setting a
precedent for their future treatment of animals, and is determined
to head off any challenges from the public.”
While the tahrs are endangered but non-native, the caracals
rescued by the Kalahari Raptor Centre are protected in international
commerce but remain classified as vermin under the Problem Animal
Control Ordinance of 1957, an apartheid-era law which authorized
people of European descent to hunt Cape foxes, jackals, caracals,
and other small predators from horseback, with dogs, anywhere and
at any time they pleased, without having to pay farmers for any
damage they caused. Indeed, farmers could be prosecuted for
As KRC cofounders Chris Mercer and Beverly Pervan wrote in
their December 2000 ANIMAL PEOPLE guest column “Apartheid and three
caracal kittens,” the Northern Cape Nature Conservation Department
has tried to use the 1957 law to seize the caracals since October
2000, when Mercer and Pervan applied for a permit either to release
them or “to use them to educate schoolchildren who visit our center,
and for tourists to photograph. We will not allow the public to
handle them,” Mercer and Pervan stipulated. “We propose to build
for them a large camp with high electrified fencing, where they may
live out as happy a life as possible.”
Two of the caracals appear to be fit for release to the wild,
while captivity in a natural setting might be the best alternative
for one who suffered a severe leg injury prior to capture.
In early September 2001 the Kuruman Magistrates Court
convicted Mercer and Pervan of illegally keeping the caracals, and
Mercer of also illegally transporting them. They received fines and
suspended jail sentences, and were ordered to surrender the caracals.
“Wessel Jacobs of the Northern Cape Nature Department stated
in his testimony that one was to die and two would be sent to zoos,”
Mercer and Pervan bought time for the caracals by appealing,
holding that the racist language of the Problem Animal Control
Ordinance of 1957 makes it unconstitutional.
The Northern Cape Nature Department meanwhile refused to
renew their permits to keep birds.
“We are closing down KRC immediately,” Pervan said. “With
suspended sentences hanging over us, we cannot take the chance that
someone will bring us an animal, as happens all the time, and get
themselves and us into more trouble. The Tourism Office has been
told not to send visitors, and no environmental classes for children
will be held. Whether KRC will ever re-open will depend upon the
outcome of the appeal.”
Territoriality also seems to be at least part of the issue in
a dispute between self-proclaimed “seal whisperer” Francois Hugo of
the upstart organization Seal Alert South Africa on the one hand,
and on the other, a variety of South African government agencies
plus the South African National SPCA.
Although handling seals without a permit is illegal in South
Africa, as in the U.S. and Canada, Hugo admits to responding to as
many as 100 seal-in-distress calls per year from his home near Hout
Bay. Since 1999 Hugo has sought permission to start a “natural care
seal rehabilitation sanctuary” near Cape Town, but has been thwarted
by the combined opposition of the Department of Marine and Coastal
Management and the South African National SPCA. They contend that
the existing three seal rehabilitation centers along the South
African coast are enough, together with a temporary facility near
Cape Town, which is soon to be expanded.
Hugo argued in a recent series of World Wide Web and e-mail
postings that the government and SN/SPCA are in effect colluding to
reduce the seal population.
“At the time of European settlement of southern Africa, some
400 years ago, Cape fur seals probably numbered in the millions,”
Hugo wrote, “and did not breed on the mainland. They chose instead
to breed on 38 small, barren, rocky islands along 2000 kilometres of
coast. In the past 60 years, 54% of the offshore colonies have
become extinct, 75% of all pups are now born on the mainland, and
up to 80% now reside outside South African waters, in Namibia. Of
the rest, 95% live near the Namibian border.”
When Namibia gained independence from South Africa in 1990,
the new regime expanded fishing and sealing. As the Namibian fish
stocks collapsed, Hugo continued, “the President of Namibia
declared his intention to half the seal population, and urged
Namibians to eat seals.”
More than 250,000 seals died along the Namibiian coast, Hugo
says, in three of the past seven years. Malnutrition was the major
cause. Namibia responded by raising its sealing quota from 30,000
pups, plus 5,000 bulls, to 60,000 pups plus 7,000 bulls, and
extended the sealing season to six months.
Hugo argues that the seal population did not just migrate
from the old rookeries off South Africa to the current sites along
the Namibian mainland. Instead, he says, “Evidence can be shown
that persons were sent to the offshore islands for up to two years,”
toward the end of the apartheid era, “for the sole purpose of
beating every seal off the islands.”
This, Hugo contends, forced the relocation, which served
the dual aim of reducing competition for South African fish stocks
and transferring the perceived “seal problem” to a black-ruled
neighbor that the apartheid regime wanted to keep as weak and
isolated as possible.
As the alleged seal relocation coincided with the height of
protest against the Atlantic Canadian seal hunt, the rulers of
apartheid South Africa might have hoped that the unpopularity of
sealing might offset European and American sympathy and support for
Far-fetched? Not necessarily, in view of the simultaneous
South African involvement in the ivory trade and other bizarre South
African machinations involving animals. For example, as Hugo posted
his allegations to the World Wide Web, cardiologist and former South
African military officer Wouter Basson, M.D., went to trial in
Pretoria on 16 counts of murder and 24 counts of fraud, among 67
total charges resulting from his work as head of the apartheid
government’s biological and chemical warfare unit from 1982 until
Basson testified in pre-trial documents that he bought a zoo
near Cape Town, with South African Defence Force funding, to
research the use of pheremones secreted by animals for crowd control.
The court heard testimony from former Roodeplaat Research
Laboratory head of research Dr. Andre Immelman that Basson used
animals to test toxins added to lipbalms, deodorants, shampoos,
drinks, and tobacco.
Under cross-examination, Basson claimed that he possessed
toxins such as cyanide because he routinely poisoned animals to
demonstrate the effects of exposure to chemical weapons while
instructing special forces and military intelligence agents at the
Onderstepoort Veterinary School.
Basson was originally questioned in secret, according to The
Snout #8, the winter 2001 newsletter of South Africans for the
Abolition of Vivisection.
“The day after the local press appealed against the secret
hearing,” The Snout claimed, “ten armed white men removed the
computer main frame from Onderstepoort in a military-style break-in.
Enquiries by a newspaper reporter elicited a denial from
Onderstepoort that such a theft took place. But truth has a way of
prevailing. In a recent legal action against Onderstepoort, the
latter claimed to be unable to produce certain evidence. The reason?
The theft of the main frame.”
The Basson case affords a reminder that no African nation
effectively regulates or supervises animal use in biomedical
research, teaching, and testing–and only South Africa as yet has
much visible antivivisection activism.
Relatively little biomedical research, testing, and
teaching was done in Africa until recently, but ANIMAL PEOPLE has
picked up hints from business news media during the past several
months that laboratories in South Africa, Ghana, and Pakistan are
bidding successfully on some of the animal testing projects that
companies are no longer jobbing out to Huntingdon Laboratories, of
If and when companies making extensive lab use of animals
become entrenched in Africa, which may have already happened,
opening them to scrutiny and regulation may prove exceedingly
As sources of well-paid jobs and conduits for technology to
underdeveloped nations, biomedical research and testing companies
will enjoy proportionally much greater prestige in Africa than in the
developed world. Few ordinary Africans know much about laboratory
procedures. The photos that have for decades horrified American and
European activists may have less impact in nations where animals are
routinely slaughtered and dismembered for meat in public places, and
animal sacrifice including burning problematic baboons as “witches”
is still common enough that most people may have encountered it.
Though vivisection has not previously been big business in
most of Africa, there is relevant history.
The high point of African medical prestige came during the
1960s and 1970s when the late Christian Barnard, M.D., did heart
transplant experiments on various primates, including humans. He
eventually concluded that chimpanzees were too much like humans for
him to feel morally comfortable about using as involuntary “heart
Africa was the major source of nonhuman primates used in
biomedical research and testing until the 1970s, when the Endangered
Species Act, Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species, and recognition of the risks associated with simian viruses
such as hepatitis-B and Ebola combined to cause a gradual shift from
use of wild-caught animals to captive breeding.
But the traffic in wild-caught African primates to labs in
the U.S. and elsewhere has never stopped. Baboons were reportedly
routinely sent to the U.S. from Tanzania, via Kenya, until early
2000, according to the British Union for the Abolition of
Vivisection. Kenya banned baboon exports after authorities in
Nairobi found a warehouse of baboons in miserable condition, but as
recently as August 2000 the U.S. lab supply firm Charles River
ordered 300 baboons from Tanzania, according to African sources.
Charles River was said to have cancelled the deal when U.S. activists
found out about it.
In April 2001, the Lufthansa Cargo Corporation, part of the
national airline of Germany, announced that it would cease
transporting wildlife, effective May 1, except for rescue and
conservation purposes. El Al, the national airline of Israel,
reportedly adopted a similar policy in July. These had been the two
biggest international carriers of primates for lab use. Their
decision to stop has inhibited the primate traffic, but
investigators believe it will continue via smaller carriers.
Regardless of the ethics of primate use in laboratories, and
whether or not it has helped to find cures for human diseases, the
use of wild-caught African primates has also introduced diseases to
humans, sometimes at epidemic levels.
For example, more than 60 recent studies have discovered the
presence of the simian virus SV40 in rare human brain, bone, and
lung cancers, including mesothelioma, previously linked to asbestos
exposure. SV40 is believed to have contaminated some batches of
polio vaccine cultivated in wild-caught African monkeys, especially
between 1955 and March 1961, after which the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration required that traces of SV40 be removed from vaccines.
Several investigators have suggested since 1992 that a
mutated form of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus that became AIDS first
infected humans via tests of an oral polio vaccine cultivated in the
kidneys of macaques, tested in the Congo during the late 1950s by
researchers Hilary Kopowski and Stanley Plotkin. This theory was
refuted in papers published by the journals Science and Nature in
their April 2001 editions, but remains alive in the rumor mills of
Africa, where AIDS has afflicted 24.5 million people, or 71% of all
Various African primate sanctuaries have made attempts to
rehabilitate ex-lab primates in semi-natural conditions, but none
have been returned to the wild–at least not legally and
deliberately–because of concern that they might take exotic diseases
to which they were exposed in labs back to the wild population.
Twice Friends of Animals has set up sanctuary facilities in Africa
for ex-lab primates from the U.S. The first was destroyed in 1991 by
the outbreak of civil war in Liberia. FoA was never able to get
permission to send primates to the second, in Ghana, again because
of concern that they might introduce disease.