4. The PH and Outfitter

Until around 1980 there was no legislation with regards foreign hunters.  Many of the professional hunters of the time graduated from the "university of life", and some are still in the industry today.  I had the privilege to meet some of these true giants of African hunting, and share in a fraction of their awesome experience.  Unfortunately incompetence, arrogance and greed are never absent, and frequent customer abuse necessitated a legal approach to trophy hunting.  Conservationists like Kobus Schoeman and colleagues participated with professional hunters of the time, and founded the legislation of "trophy hunting" that is today known as "the Hunting Ordinances".

Before 1994 South Africa was made up of 4 provinces, but under the new political dispensation there are 9.  Most provinces still subscribe to the hunting legislation of whichever “old province” it was part of.  There are continuous updates to the acts and ordinances, of which details are available from the provincial offices of Nature Conservation.

The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) cooperates closely with Nature Conservation, and adopted a policy of tightening up on controls in order to induce higher standards to the hunting industry.  PHASA acts as watchdog of potential transgressions of members as well as non-registered hunters.  Nature Conservation Departments of the various provinces police compliance to the requirements of the hunting laws.  In essence, the legislation around hunting by foreigners is similar in all provinces, and summarizes roughly as follows:

The foreign hunter has to be accompanied by a Professional Hunter, certified for that province.
Said foreign hunter may only be recruited by somebody with an outfitter’s permit for that province.
To qualify as PH, the incumbent needs to be a SA citizen over the age of 21, attend a hunting school (accredited by Nature Conservation) for at least 10 days, and pass the test criteria of that school.  This is followed by an examination set and marked by the Department of Nature Conservation for that province.  Membership of PHASA is recommended, and records of active hunting and guiding needs to be kept.
Most provinces have lately adopted a policy of not issuing the newly qualified PH with an outfitter’s permit unless he is a land owner, or has actively guided hunters for at least 3 years.  Advocates of this policy argue that it is all for the benefit of the SA hunting industry.  These measures are meant to curtail the “fly-by-night” syndrome, hence securing high standards of service and professionalism, and a positive international image for the benefit of all.
There are currently further thinking in some provinces to introduce a 3 years apprenticeship under an experienced PH (after attendance of hunting school) before certification as PH will be granted .
On application for an outfitter’s permit, Nature Conservation scrutinizes the PH’s qualification and his “base camp facilities".  These are the physical necessities such as marketing material, vehicles, rifles, decent accommodation, skinning, trophy handling and cold storage.  Approval results in an outfitter's permit.

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