With so much attention on canned hunting, hunting with a dart gun may seem like a viable and responsible alternative "the thrill without the kill” or "the big-game hunting experience without killing an animal".
The brainchild of green dart hunting Dr Paul Bartels, head of the Wildlife Biological Resource Centre of the National Zoological Gardens, stated at the time that ‘"green hunting requires more skill and precision than hunting with a rifle"…… read more
Code of ethics state – animals are only earmarked for darting for specific scientific or research purposes, never for commercial reasons alone. Purposes can include the translocation of animals to a new environment, ear notching or fitting microchips for identification, blood and tissue collection, radio collaring for tracking animal movement, and operating or treating wounds.
The concern here is that this practise is open to abuse, it creates an opportunity for the misuse of animals for the sake of money; animals could be subject to regular immobilisation simply to meet the demands of hunters. In January 2000 it was reported that prices of up to USD 25 000 had been paid for the opportunity to dart an endangered animal. That numbers of animals being darted in this way were increasing annually, and that now more rhino, to give but one example, were darted for sport than lethally hunted. The South African Veterinary Association recommendation is that no animal should be darted more than twice a year and preferably only once, to minimise stress. Yet, it has been reported that the same rhino had been darted three times in eight months. Add to this the wider access required by hunters to tranquillising drugs such as M99, and the subsequent increased use of this drug in the poaching of rhino; this resulted in the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) declaring veterinary involvement in green hunting (the practise whereby a veterinarian facilitates the immobilizing/anaesthesia of an animals by a non-veterinarian) an unethical procedure. They stated ‘the conduct of veterinarian who are involved in green hunts will be regarded as unprofessional and will be investigated’. The following year (2012) the Department of Environmental Affairs (South Africa) accepted recommendations by the Veterinarian’s Council regarding the darting of rhinos and stopped issuing permits for so called ‘green hunts’. This made it illegal for anyone but a veterinarian to administer medicines for the purpose of tranquilizing or anaesthetizing an animal, Only registered veterinarian or veterinary professionals, or a person authorised in writing by the SAVC, may dart an animal with a Schedule 5 and 6 substance. Scheduled medicine may thus not be used for recreational purposes or to create potential commercial activities whereby animals are unnecessarily stressed. The SAVC also informed the veterinary profession that the advertising of veterinary safaris and/or the charging of fees to have persons witness the rendering of veterinary services is not permitted, thus making this method of hunting rhino illegal.
As result of this new regulation, the same year ‘safari operators’ introduced a new way to ’thrill without the kill’ and introduced the ‘vita-dart’ hunting of rhino. This involves a client (hunter) shooting the rhino with a dart full of vitamins. Darts are heavier than bullets, so the hunter has to be very close to the animal before firing, while anticipating where and how the dart is going to fly. The rhino is only tranquilised later by a veterinarian, and only if medically necessary (exactly as previously stated). The darting of rhino is therefore once again deemed to be a legal activity, requiring a TOPS (Threatened Or Protected Species) permit issued by provincial wildlife authorities. The process is as a hunt would be to kill the rhino, however the vitamins have no effect on the rhino whatsoever other than pissing it off; never a good plan. A vet is on standby and then pursues the rhino and fires a second dart filled with a tranquilliser. Once tranquillised the hunter is taken to the rhino and he poses for trophy pictures, as he would if the rhino had been killed. The rhino is photographed and measured and a taxidermist makes a fibreglass replica of the rhino for the hunters trophy room. The rhino is woken by the vet attending, and set free. This type of hunting is now recognised by the various hunting associations as a ‘kill hunt’, the hunter can include this in his ‘big five’ tally. Safari Club International now accepts darted animals for entry into their record book, and hunting competitions, in the ‘Darted Rhino’ category.view gallery