What is the Law on Hunting?

There are few things in human history that are more ancient, and more important, than hunting. From cave paintings to classical literature, stories of great hunting adventures have formed an integral part of every civilisation’s history and culture. In subsequent generations, however, we’ve seen less of a need for hunting and hunters. Agriculture and husbandry have developed rapidly and food has become more and more abundant. In the modern era then, hunting almost seems to be a kind of archaic pastime rather than a vital part of human behaviour. But that doesn’t mean it’s just going to disappear. All over the world, many people still love to hunt and, over time, the practice has developed into a very popular hobby. With this in mind, we would do well to ask ourselves a few important questions, such as – What does the law say about hunting? Is it legal in South Africa? And what kind of animals are you not allowed to hunt? What is the Law on Hunting?

Hunting regulations in South Africa are broadly split into two sections, namely – National Regulations and Provincial Regulations.  

For the most part, national regulations remain more or less the same over time and are mainly used to identify different types of prohibited activities and hunting methods throughout the country.  

What is the Law on Hunting?
What is the Law on Hunting?

By contrast, provincial legislation can differ slightly depending on where you are planning to hunt, and thus, it’s always a good idea to read up on the relevant ordinance before you go on any hunting trips. General legislation for each province can be found here, but it’s also important to remember that regulations are updated at the beginning of each new hunting season so you’ll also have to check the provincial gazette of the area in question to get the most up-to-date rules. 

These gazettes cover issues such as the hunting season for different species, bag limits, closed districts and farms, etc. For convenience sake, we’ll list some of the more popular ones for 2022 here – 

Is Hunting Legal in South Africa?

Yes, hunting is legal in South Africa, but there are various regulations that need to be considered before you begin. For example, some of the more relevant restrictions include, but are not limited to, – 

General Hunting Restrictions in South Africa

Hunting Seasons – Certain animals may only be hunted at specific periods while others may be hunted throughout the year. Individuals will need to ensure that they are hunting during authorised intervals. 

Licences/Permits – While there may be some exceptions with regards to exempt farms, most provinces require that hunters get the necessary hunting licences and permits before they set off. 

Permission – Even when a licence is not required, you will normally need to receive the permission of the landowner to hunt in a specific location.

Bag Limits – As noted, provincial gazettes usually feature the bag limits for different animals that may be hunted. Some limits apply to specific animals while others apply to the total number of animals that may be hunted in a certain location or at a certain time. 

Exempted Animals – While some animals may be exempt from hunting altogether due to their status as an endangered species, others may fall into this category but still be viable for hunting, albeit with harsher restrictions. Additionally, during times of drought or famine, more common animals may be placed into this exempt category temporarily. 

Once again, this list does not cover all restrictions and regulations, and many limits may only apply in certain provinces. Be sure to read up on the local ordinance before you go hunting to ensure that you aren’t breaking any rules. 

What is the Law on Hunting?
What is the Law on Hunting?

Is it Legal to Hunt from a Vehicle in South Africa?

No, it is not. Neither cars nor aircraft can be used to hunt animals. The only exceptions to this rule are as follows – 

  • When they are used for the tracking of an animal in an area where the hunt takes place over long ranges
  • When culling
  • When controlling damage-causing animals
  • When allowing a physically disabled or elderly person to hunt (with regards to motorised vehicles)

What Animals are Illegal to Hunt in South Africa?

As mentioned, animals which are exempted from hunting differ depending on which province you are in and according to the rules of the provincial gazette for that year. 

That said, the Forestry, Fisheries and Environment minister may set hunting and export quotas each year for specific animals such as elephants, leopards, and black rhinos.

What is Legal Hunting?

Legal hunting usually refers to any hunting that is done while fulfilling the proper hunting criteria of the country and/or province. 

Normally, this involves getting a permit/permission, hunting during the authorised season, not exceeding the bag limit, etc. 

Hunting in a contrary manner could be classified as poaching, and may result in harsh fines and/or prison sentences. 

It is important to note, however, that certain methods of hunting are also prohibited, such as those involving poison or traps. Even if you fulfil all the other prerequisites, you may be hunting illegally if you use one of these prohibited methods.

How Much is a Hunting Licence in South Africa?

As with the other elements of hunting in South Africa, licence costs will differ depending on the province in question. 

For the most part, a general hunting licence can be obtained for around R150 – R200

How Much does Trophy Hunting Cost in South Africa?

As more and more safari groups pop up throughout the country, hunters are being offered a wider range of prices and options for their excursions. While prices may fluctuate heavily between different service providers, we can still find a rough average for the year 2022. 

Some of the prices for the more popular trophy animals include – 

  • Baboon – $400
  • Black Wildebeest – $800
  • Blesbok – $400
  • Impala – $300 – 350
  • Ostrich – $400
  • Springbok – $400 – $1000 (Depending on type)
  • Waterbuck – $2000 – 2500
  • Warthog – $350 – 450
  • Zebra – $1000

Again, it’s important to note that these numbers are just broad averages and the actual prices found at different safaris may vary significantly.

What is the Law on Hunting?
What is the Law on Hunting?

In Conclusion – What is the Law on Hunting in South Africa?

It is legal to hunt in South Africa and many safaris provide the service to tourists and locals alike. There are, however, many restrictions and regulations that apply and every hunter should familiarise themselves with these rules before they embark on their trip. 

Firstly, hunting legislation is split between national regulations and provincial regulations. National regulations are broader in scope and usually remain quite static. They commonly identify certain prohibited acts (such as hunting using traps and poisons) as well as exempt species. 

Provincial legislation, on the other hand, tends to be more fluid and can change slightly from season to season as authorities see fit. It is vital that hunters read up on the provincial legislation published in the provincial gazettes before they go hunting as certain bag limits and limitations may have been recently enacted. 

Some of the rules which apply to hunters in South Africa include, but are not limited to, –

  • Hunting seasons
  • Licences/Permits
  • Permission from the landowner
  • Bag limits
  • Exempt Animals 

While licences may or may not be required in certain provinces (depending on what you’re hunting and where), you will usually need to get the permission of the landowner before you begin. 

Additionally, while some animals may be totally exempt from hunting, others may be exempt in the sense that heavier bag limits and restrictions have been placed on them specifically. 

For the most part, hunting using a motorised vehicle is illegal except for in certain scenarios such as when animals are being culled. Breaking these rules may be considered poaching. Poaching is a serious criminal offence which can result in harsh fines and/or prison time for the offender. 

Because there are many different safari services to choose from, patrons may be spoiled for choice when deciding where to hunt. Prices can also fluctuate wildly depending on the safari in question and the animals which you will be hunting, so it is advised that you shop around a bit to find a good price rather than simply accepting the first offer that you receive. 

Disclaimer LAW101: All of our posts are for research purposes only. Law 101 aims to assist its readers with useful information on the laws of our country that can guide you to make decisions in line with the South African Governmental Laws currently in place. Although our posts cite the constitution in many instances, they are intended to assist readers who are looking to expand their knowledge of the law. Should you require specific legal advice we advise you to get in touch with a qualified legal expert.

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