by Shaun Keeny, Professional Hunter
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
Ladies and gents, this story has blown up pretty bad. But let me throw in my 2 cents. I know Theo Bronkhorst personally, he has been a Safari operator in Zimbabwe for a long time. I hunted next to his concessions for 5 years, and in that time I got to know the man pretty well.
In Zimbabwe, on private land and on government concessions, baiting is a legal method to hunt lions and leopards. Hunting at night is only legal on private land — and they had hunted private land. Antoinette, the concession where they hunted the lion, borders Hwange National Park, which shows that the boundary was a railway track.
When baiting cats, guts are used to make a drag scent that can get the lion to find your bait. Legally, the hunters could start their drag right on the border of the 2 areas. They didn’t have a permit to hunt a lion on Antoinette, but what I do know can happen is that a Safari Operator can get a quota swop, which then entitles him to hunt on another area with his existing permit. If this was done, I do not know.
Now, for Cecil to be “lured” out of the park is a bit far fetched. He had his territory that he commanded with his pride, he never left the park, and now all of a sudden he has. Isn’t it a possibility that a younger male kicked him out of his area? He was 13 years old – which for a wild lion is old! He was wounded and was followed for 40 hours? If he still had his territory he would have gone back to the park? He didn’t, and in the live pics I’ve seen from Cecil, his collar was not visible. There are always many other factors to look at.
I’m not saying the guys are squeaky clean, there is definitely a grey area in this story. But, no one has heard from the operator. I wouldn’t fault the hunter as he is guided by his PH and SO and he trusted them to make sure everything was legal. The media used words like ‘lured’, saying he was ‘beheaded’, and was murdered! These few words show that they manipulate the story. Cecil was baited like any other lion would have been, he was wounded, which is unfortunate, and the he was field dressed by trained skinners. Those are the correct terms.
I am all for fair chase and legal hunting as I, myself, am a hunting operator. I condemn illegal and unethical hunting practices, and unfortunately there are untrustworthy operators that make the safari industry look bad. But let’s wait and see what the courts find out. It may come out that everything was 100% legal and the only issue would be the fact that it was a collared male whose collar wasn’t visible.
ClashDaily.com’s Editor-In-Chief, Doug Giles, and Professional Hunter, Shaun Keeny of Shaun Keeny Safaris, agree with the following official statement from Dallas Safari Club:
DALLAS – A Zimbabwean landowner and a professional hunter are facing charges for the poaching of a collared lion outside of Hwange National Park. Their client from the U.S. could also face charges if investigators find he was a knowing accomplice in the crime. DSC abhors poaching, commends the swift enforcement efforts of Zimbabwean authorities and supports prosecution of convicted poachers to the fullest extent of the law.
DSC encourages the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct additional investigations into possible violations of American wildlife laws.
Finally, DSC also supports the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe in actions against its members who violate wildlife laws. Lawful, ethical, vigilant hunters play an important role in public acceptance of sustainable hunting as a vital tool for modern wildlife conservation and management.
None of the individuals or safari companies implicated in this incident are affiliated with DSC. DSC works with government authorities and professional hunting associations, and enforces its own code of conduct, to ensure its members and convention exhibitors are in good standing.
Here is a statement from the Dentist, Dr. Palmer:
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