The Mercury

Ramaphosa denies trophy hunting claims

‘Patently false and denied in full’

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PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has dismissed US media reports that he is involved in the trophy-hunting industry or in Tsala Hunting Safaris.

“Phala Phala Wildlife has noted a statement carried on the US website of the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) that makes a number of unfounded allegation­s against Phala Phala and its owner, President Cyril Ramaphosa. The allegation­s are patently false and are denied in full,” the Presidency said in a statement.

It added that neither the president nor Phala Phala had a stake in the trophy-hunting industry or in Tsala Hunting Safaris.

It said that Phala Phala was a privately owned wildlife farm whose business was breeding game.

“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,” the statement said.

It added that neither Phala Phala nor Ramaphosa were engaged in illegal or unethical activities in any form.

“The following serves to clarify the nature of the relationsh­ip between Phala Phala and Tsala Hunting Safaris,” the Presidency said.

Phala Phala undertook annual culls of game such as impala, buffalo, kudu and wildebeest to avoid carrying excess numbers; culling was an establishe­d wildlife management tool practised around the globe, including in staterun conservati­on reserves; and Phala Phala entered into an agreement with Tsala Hunting Safaris to hunt the aforementi­oned game that would in any event have been culled.

“In the light of allegation­s that Tsala engages in the hunting of threatened or protected species on other properties, Phala Phala has given notice to Tsala Safaris to terminate the hunting arrangemen­t with them,” the Presidency said.

This decision was in line with Phala Phala’s commitment to sound conservati­on principles and its demonstrab­le compliance with ethical and lawful wildlife management standards.

“Phala Phala Wildlife notes that Peta US has previously made false allegation­s regarding the president’s interest in racing 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 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. Pigeon racing has been practised since the 1800s and is a sport with a substantia­l global following.

“That Peta US continues to use its platforms to disseminat­e false informatio­n regarding Phala Phala Wildlife and President Ramaphosa is wholly regrettabl­e,” the Presidency said.

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