PHASA has been criticized by prominent hunters such as Gerhard Damm and Peter Flack for its stance on the hunting of captive bred lions.

PHASA recently issued a statement indicating that it felt that Messrs Damm and Flack did not distinguish between canned lion hunting and captive bred lion hunting. PHASA said that canned hunting, which is illegal in South Africa, is when the animal is hunted while it is drugged or in an enclosed hunting area too small for the lion to evade the hunter; in captive-bred hunting, the animal is released into an extensive wildlife system to be hunted in accordance with South Africa’s strict and explicit regulations.

It proceeded to state that PHASA has always been strongly opposed to canned hunting and that it would continue to work with the government and the law enforcement agencies to eradicate the practice. From 2006 until its 2013 AGM PHASA’s position on captive bred hunting was that it supported the responsible hunting of all species in a sustainable wildlife system, in which animals can fend for themselves, provided that they are hunted in accordance with the laws of the land and PHASA’s own code of conduct.

According to PHASA a number of developments necessitated a review of its 2006 position. First, the South African Predator Breeders’ Association (SAPA) won its appeal against the Minister of Environmental Affairs in 2010, effectively ending any attempts to stop the practice in South Africa; second, the Department of Environmental Affairs has itself significantly softened its stance on the activity, calling it sustainable; and third, demand for lion hunting continues to grow.

Given this growth in demand, the fact that captive-bred lion hunting was deemed legal and sustainable by our courts and government, and the potential risks that continued unethical hunting practices in the captive-bred hunting industry posed to traditional trophy hunting, PHASA felt that it would be a dereliction of its duties to simply distance ourselves from the practice while ignoring continued unethical hunting and the damage this could cause to the reputation of all trophy hunting activities.

As such, PHASA entered into a dialogue with SAPA to improve the conditions in which lions are reared and hunted, and over the two year period it assisted SAPA to develop a set of norms which PHASA believes is a good starting point to ensure that captive-bred lion hunting is carried out responsibly.