Some of the questions we also hear are ‘Why should I join?’ or ‘Why should I go to the AGM?’ There are, of course, many functions that PHASA performs as part of its service delivery to its members and their clients.
These functions relate to, among others, temporary firearm import permits, disciplinary matters, sourcing of member benefits, advertising opportunities, section 16(A) endorsements, registers, hunting opportunities, medal programmes, assistance at international shows, and interventions with permit and licensing problems.
PHASA is an important source of industry news and information for our members and their clients, and creates fantastic networking opportunities for them. Our meetings and AGM, in particular, are great opportunities for new professional hunters and outfitters to meet, and for the exchange of ideas and information.
These services and opportunities, important as they are, do not, however, describe the most important function performed by PHASA. Firstly, we need to understand PHASA’s mandate as set out in our Constitution. According to the mandate, PHASA’s aims include, among others, ‘to promote and safeguard the hunting profession in South Africa’ and ‘to promote and participate in the conservation of Africa’s natural resources’.
PHASA’s primary function is to look at the bigger picture and to do as much as we can to create a macro-environment within which the South African professional hunting industry will prosper and grow.
This environment must be sustainable, from a business perspective, in terms of our natural resources and in the socio-political arena. If we succeed in fulfilling this function, we are creating and maintaining a platform for our outfitters to grow their businesses. In turn, they will be in a position to employ more professional hunters and offer them more hunting days at better rates. This will help our young professional hunters to gain more experience, not only in hunting, but also in business, and will, in time, afford them the opportunity to become successful outfitters in their own right.
That is the very essence of what PHASA is doing for its members and, for that matter, for everyone involved in the professional hunting industry. PHASA works at it day and night!
How do we help to create and sustain this complex macro-environment, keeping in mind that there are certain factors that are simply beyond our control? Our involvement is multifaceted. We monitor and consider all aspects that have an impact on our industry, on an ongoing basis, and then decide on strategies for dealing with them. The input of our members, particularly through active involvement in our regional meetings and AGM, is critical to our success.
We continuously engage with all role-players to influence policies, legislation, decisions and opinions that affect our members and their livelihoods. These role-players include government at all levels, other hunting organisations, both here and all over the world, the media and opinion-makers, conservation bodies, leaders in the tourism industry, our communities, landowners and owners of wildlife, the animal rights movement and society at large.
We deal with important matters, such as transformation and social responsibility. To ignore or neglect these issues would be naïve and short-sighted. We work very hard to promote South Africa as a preferred hunting destination and to convince potential clients to hunt with our members.
The continued growth of our industry will help to ensure its relevance and significance in the eyes of our broader community. Without this growth, we would not survive in the long run.
Finally, we convey the message to society that our industry is, in fact, relevant, significant and responsible. Many people out there simply do not know this.
PHASA’s role here is critical, but for the association to be successful, we need to ensure that PHASA remains strong, credible and professional. For PHASA to meet these criteria, we need to focus on a number of matters: we have to continue to grow our membership and, very importantly, membership participation; and we need to debate issues and make decisions, often very difficult ones, in a manner that is constructive and solution-driven.
If PHASA loses sight of this primary function, our industry, and our livelihoods and wildlife will simply disappear over time.