Guest blog: A letter from Gerhard von Hasseln to a disillusioned fellow hunter!

For introduction I mention that I have read your articles in the Man Magazine for which over the years I have also written some articles which were published. I arrived in South Africa in 1957 starting as a learner wool buyer. As a farewell present my father gave me a 9.3 x 62 rifle with which I shot my first bushbuck ram on a farm near Kei Road. I have hunted in six African countries though nowhere near as extensively as yourself.

Since I arrived I regret having to admit that the ethics of hunting in South Africa has deteriorated beyond repair. Thousands of miles of game fences and the breeding of captive game animals has made a joke of ethical hunting. I can understand that you are fed-up with it. Most European hunters have by now heard what is happening and stay at home rather than being ridiculed by their hunting friends. I recently read an article in a German hunting magazine where statistics were published. The number of European hunters visiting South Africa has dropped by around 70%. Along the coast between Port Elizabeth and East London where there is one game farm next to another, some have reverted back to farming with cattle for lack of clients. From now on the situation should improve but what cannot be rectified is the lack of ethics on the part of many South African game farmers. Is there any light at the end of the tunnel? Yes, Namibia with their strict hunting regulations has taken a share of clients who normally would have hunted in South Africa. Let me continue, last year I received a DVD from my brother-in-law in Germany, in which a lady posed as a lion hunter and visited various farms in South Africa where lions were kept in small enclosures. One lion farmer even issued a price list where lions could be selected according to their looks. I cringed when I saw these pictures. What has happened to hunting? And why does the Government not put a stop to it?

You have taken the matter to heart and should perhaps allow for human failure. I suggest that you wipe the slate clean, keep one or two rifles and enjoy a morning walk in the Karoo, perhaps to a place where you can hunt a few dassies.