Source: Africa Geographic Blog
Date: 12 Dec 2013
Botswana’s Minister of Agriculture, Christian de Graaff, is under fire after he exported a large shipment of lions to a canned hunting outfit in South Africa last month.
De Graaff sent 22 lions to the Makhulu Game Farm near Boshof in the Free State (South Africa). Employees at the facility, owned by Henk Vorster, openly discuss how the lions are hunted and their skeletons sold to Asian buyers. Some are bred for sale to international zoos.
At the game farm, a popular local tourist venue about 80km from Kimberley, 18 young lions were crammed together in a small quarantine enclosure of about 30m by 30m this week. With no shade and only a tiny corrugated iron-roofed hut to protect them, they were panting furiously in the blazing heat.
According to Werner Böing, the Environmental Management Inspector at the Free State Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Vorster is an “approved predator breeder in our province and his facility is up to standard”. Permits have been issued to move the 22 lions from Botswana to the Free State, he said.
De Graaff’s involvement in the breeding and hunting of lions was exposed by Botswana’s Mmegi newspaper in September. An investigation revealed that in 2005, the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks captured and donated two “problem” Kalahari lions, a male and a female, to De Graaff’s company, Phologolo Botswana Safaris.
The lions were kept at his Tautona Lodge in Ghanzi and had multiplied to 32 by the time he sent his shipment to the Free State in November. According to Mmegi, a dispute has arisen between De Graaff and Botswana’s Minister of Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, over whether the lions belong to him or the Botswana government, which has banned trophy hunting.
This is not the first deal De Graaff has done with commercial game farmers in the Free State. In 2011, he was given permits to export 26 lions to a farm called Smal Deel Unissen.