LEADING EDGE | Westcon
The Perfect - Hunting Ground
Badgerleur Bush Lodge offers four-star accommodation to guests who want to enjoy the tranquillity of the bush in luxury – and not from behind the flaps of a tent. Badgerleur has much to offer both local and international guests in terms of game-watching, relaxation and, of course, game hunting.
The Lodge showcases a large variety of African game, including rhino, hippo and giraffe, as well as smaller species of buck, warthogs and other wild animals. For those who simply want to enjoy the bush at their leisure, game walks, game drives and horseback safaris, as well as fishing expeditions, are arranged.
For sport hunters, the Lodge has much to offer, from bow hunting from blinds, walk-and-stalk hunting, rifle and bow hunting, to black-powder hunting.
“Bow hunting from blinds – where the hunter is hidden in some form of protected enclosure – has become increasingly popular over the past few years,” says part owner and manager of the Lodge, Gordon Pullen.
Badgerleur offers the same services for both local and international game hunters, but with the addition of a professional hunter to accompany non-South African hunters, as the law prescribes. “At Badgerleur Bush Lodge, we have a unique and specific hunting policy, namely ethical, professional hunting by dedicated hunters who believe in the sustainability and integrity of hunting as a sport and as a responsible part of wildlife conservation and management.
“We have a number of joint ventures with professional outfitters and all hunters, no matter who they are or where they hail from, are first put through rigorous screening, testing and vetting before they can avail themselves of our hunting facilities,” Pullen emphasises.
Pullen believes that trophy hunting is one of the important elements of a sustainable supply of venison or game in general. The majority of trophies hunted are bulls having already reached sexual maturity; in other words, they have already bred for more than four years as a stud bull. These bulls fetch the highest prices as hunting trophies, he explains. “By hunting these animals in particular, we are ensuring continuous change in the gene pool and allowing young and new bulls to become stud bulls. This, of course, also prevents inbreeding among our game stock, as we are game farmers and not game reserves with huge stock pools. Since the game is limited by the land and biodiversity of the farm, we as game farmers utilise funds earned from trophy hunting to sustain our lands and our game by bringing in new genetics. This allows for healthy breeding practices,” Pullen says. Badgerleur Bush Lodge sports a large variety of game, all of which are indigenous breeds adapted to sour-grass biomes.
Pullen is empathic that only ethical hunting takes place at Badgerleur. “All game is equally sought after for hunting. We have a strictly applied philosophy: we only allow breeds selected by our professional hunters and farm management to be hunted. In addition, we closely monitor breeding statistics and feed conditions.” He cites the example of the white-tailed gnu and says it will only be harvested (hunted) if numbers exceed the Lodge’s carrying capacity for their specialist diet of short, fine grass.
He stresses that hunting is essential to the survival of our natural heritage and that game farming should be encouraged, provided that this is done according to scientific principles that attempt to balance the needs of wildlife with those of the biosphere and humans sharing the space. In some instances, the hunting of predators also protects the species they prey on, for it restores and maintains the balance in numbers.
“If we fail in our task, we will suffer the fate of some of our African neighbours on our northern borders, where hunting is allowed only in national parks. This leads to a gross imbalance, creates a multiplicity of problems, and, ultimately, results in the destruction of our natural wildlife assets,” Pullen says. He points out that the hunting industry in South Africa and also on game farms has successfully increased the number of animals in the wild, at the same time managing to maintain the diversity of natural species.
He further points to the fact that hunting techniques can differ quite substantially, but again stresses that only ethical hunting practices are allowed at Badgerleur. Hunting techniques can differ from hunter to hunter. Modern regulations and legislation are often at play and will determine where, when and how hunts may be conducted and which techniques may be employed. Furthermore, says Pullen, individuals differ. For some, what may be ethical, others may frown upon. In many instances, an individual could use a combination of hunting techniques in a hunt.
Badgerleur offers walk-and-stalk, rifle, bow, and black-powder hunting, but considers other techniques such as driving (where animals are driven in the direction of hunters), beating (a technique which flushes out game and drives them into position where hunters can easily kill the animals) and trapping as highly unethical.
Because of its highly ethical values regarding hunting, which have become known among hunters around the world, Badgerleur Bush Lodge has become a sought-after venue for hunters of a certain calibre. Hunting offers a successful and sustainable business model for those who are passionate about conservation and wildlife management. Its contribution to the South African economy is sizeable and is considered very valuable.