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The Wildlife Poisoning Crisis

Between 176 000 and 470 000 gamebirds are maliciously poisoned on farms in Southern Africa every year. The deliberate poisoning of wildlife has taken on environmental disaster proportions. The poisoning is done deliberately for a variety of reasons; for food, to sell the game meat, in a misguided attempt by landowners to control pest animals on crops or predators of livestock. If you encounter any incidence of poisoning (dead birds, animals), please contact the Griffon Poison Information Centre immediately: 082 446 8946.

For more info on the gamebird poisoning crisis, click HERE.


The entire of South Africa has been -declared a rabies-area by the Veterinary Services department. All dogs travelling between provinces must have a valid vaccination-travel permit. Bird dogs and their wingshooter families are a high-risk group and particularly exposed to this horrible and deadly disease that kills all mammals. Once the symptoms have developed, there is no cure...

Rabies, a fatal disease of humans and all other mammals, is caused by a virus that has been associated with animal bites for more than 3 000 years and it is the oldest infectious disease known to medical science. Dogs have long been recognised as the main transmitters of the disease to people. When compared with other formidable human diseases such as bubonic plague and smallpox, and animal diseases such as rinderpest and anthrax, rabies has probably never caused comparably high numbers of deaths in humans and animals. However, the horrendous manner in which rabies manifests itself in its victims continues to attract the attention of scientists, health and veterinary workers.

>> Rabies special report
>> Rabbies Guide for the medical, veterinary and allied professions
>> Spinone
>> Ducks and Waterfowl Decoys
>> National Coordinated Gamebird Seasons

cover Lead Shot issue

Since lead was first labelled as 'toxic' , the steel shot issue has been clouded by vague information, half truths, fallacies and assumptions, most of which were repeated so often that, eventually, some people believed it. Even Belrose, the researcher who did the original, oft quoted, report on lead poisoning admitted that his findings were 'inconclusive'. The bald eagle which died in the Tule Lake area of the USA, diagnosed as lead poisoning and repeated ad naseum by pseudoscientists, was in fact hit by a truck!

There are several documented cases of shooters who are carrying lead pellets in their bodies for more than 30 years and who have not developed any symptoms of lead poisoning whatsoever. What certainly IS toxic, is the lead in car exhaust gases. The epidemic of deliberate poisoning of wildlife using agricultural pesticides merits attention, not the inconclusive effects of lead shot in shotgun ammunition! See Steel Shot Update article as well as the Summary of the issue by Dr. PJ Viljoen.

Of course lead is toxic, as are heavy metals in general, including the fillings in our teeth.What we take issue with is the irresponsible and one-sided pseudoscientific statements repeated ad naseum by word of Internet and which turns a relatively minor issue into a major crusade, to the exclusion of toxicity issues which are a thousand times more deadly.

And yes, we urge our members to use bismuth shot when shooting over wetlands, because of the grinding effect of the crop, even though the incidence of such shooting over wetlands and vleis are indeed minor.

We have been unable to find one single peer reviewed scientific article diagnosing lead poisoning in one single wild gamebird in South Africa (apart from birds kept in the zoo and which developed lead poisoning from lead fumes from passing traffic)?

The National Gamebird Survey, conducted by Dr Slang Viljoen, indicate that the malicious poisoning of gamebirds with agricultural pesticides has taken on epidemic proportions, with one farm out of every five in South Africa reporting poisoning incidents. Recently, a truckload of aldicarb (‘two-step’) was smuggled into SA — enough to kill half of the inhabitants of a city! Let’s not waste time and resources on minor issues such as lead shot. We will gladly work with the provinces, as we are indeed doing with the Poison Working group of the Endangered Wildlife Trust and the Department of Agriculture, to contain this worst threat to South African gamebird conservation ever recorded. Click here to read more info on the threat of maliscious poisoning.

Bismuth shot

Bismuth shot is currently the material of choice for the future. Kent, Winchester and others manufacture bismuth ammo. Eley's bismuth ammo is now being imported into Africa by Swartklip Products. It closely resembles lead shot and can be used in older barrels and with chokes. Does not cause unusual barrel wear or pressure rings. Does not ricochet off hard surfaces. More and more shooters say that bismuth ammunition is as good or even better than lead ammo! Expensive. The SA Wingshooters Association recommends that Bismuth shot should be used by members when shooting waterfowl over wetlands.

Policy Statement on Lead Shot

In close consultation with overseas wingshooting organisations, SA Wingshooters has given careful consideration to complex issues involving the use of lead shot and has formally approved a Policy Statement on Lead Shot. This can be downloaded here.

>>Presentation to the Ministerial panel on hunting department of Environment and Tourism

The Spurfowl Controversy

A panel of Scientists of the National Gamebird Federation has appealed to the bird fraternity to stop using the name 'Spurfowl' for some bird species in Southern Africa. In a recent report, they claim that the resultant confusion is already harming the conservation of the scarcer species, including African partridges. see report

SA Wingshooters emphatically disagrees with some of the new names used in the 7th edition of Roberts Birds of South Africa because they give rise to tragic confusion. Examples are ‘spurfowl’ for francolin (fisante), 'francolin' for [African] partridge (patryse) and ‘speckled pigeon’ for rock pigeon (kransduif). Kopereend (shelduck) is also widely known in Afrikaans as the (previously used) bergeend, while the kransduif (rock pigeon) is widely known as bosduif in the Cape (compared to geelbek-bosduif for the Rameron pigeon).

The inappropriate ‘red-eyed dove’ (groot ringnekduif) is unfortunately persisted with in Roberts, causing confusion with the Afrikaans rooi-oog tortelduif, which is a different bird altogether. The name ‘rock dove’ for the feral pigeon is dangerously misleading because of hunting licence confusion with our most common wingshooting quarry, the rock pigeon. The rock dove is the wild ancestor of domestic pigeons the world over and now only occurs on the north and west coasts of Scotland and Northern Ireland and adjacent islands. The name 'feral pigeon' is widely used by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and in all English speaking countries around the world for domestic pigeons gone wild.

To avoid unfortunate misunderstandings the widely accepted and common names for our gamebirds will be retained in future by SA Wingshooters as a matter of policy. We advise provincial departments to do the same to prevent criminalising decent law abiding people through unfortunate misunderstandings.

Going to the Dogs

Please remember the regular (monthly) antiparasite treatment with Frontline or Vetcare Dog Spot or the new Ecto-Spot, depending on your preference. Summer-time is when the tick population is exploding and most dangerous! Even small immature seed ticks (or pepper ticks) can transmit dangerous diseases like biliary fever or ehrlichiosis. In winter, during the hunting season, the adults ticks are most prevalent and treatment with ectoparaciticides prevent the ticks attaching long enough to cause infection, thereby reducing the likelyhood of disease transmission. More information on gun dogs, how to buy a puppy, puppies for sale and a list of field trial clubs in South Africa can be found in the K9 section. This also features items on animal health and gun dog club activities. Click here for information.

benifitsLogo Membership Benefits Programme

The SA Wingshooters Association has launched an aggressive new programme to boost the benefits of membership of the association. These include:

  • A database of exclusive shooting places
  • Shotgun raffles
  • Special membership of clay shooting clubs
  • Fabulous prizes for membership recruiting
  • Substantial discounts on items e.g. Wingshooting handbook
  • Regular clay shooting and gundog clinics
  • Shooting licences for some provinces
  • Details will be announced to members from time to time in the Wingshooter magazine and eZine newsletter.

Previous Articles

>> Thai dogs carry bird-flu virus, but will they spread it?
>> SA WINGSHOOTERS announces Early Warning Programme
>> Avian Flu - review
>> Black Powder Shooting
>> The New Roberts - SA Wingshooters emphatically disagrees with some of the new names used in the 7th edition of Roberts Birds of South Africa because they give rise to tragic confusion.
>> 'Uit die mond van die suigeling'
Story in Afrikaans by Pienkes du Plessis.
>> 'Reivilo mymering' Story in Afrikaans by Pienkes du Plessis.
>> Special Report: POISONING CRISIS
The poisoning of gamebirds in Southern Africa has taken on national crisis proportions.
>> How to hunt Sandgrouse
Extract of contribution by Fanus Greyling from the 'WINGSHOOTING' book.
>> Sandgrouse Ethics
Research points the way in sandgrouse shooting ethics.
>> The Dewey Method
Charles van Drier explains how to do the quick and easy 3-step bird-cleaning method.
>> Down among the Dead
Charles Duff talks about waders & their use.
>> Fat Guinea Menace
Professor Tim Crowe et al writes about the danger of mixing domesticated and wild guinea fowl.
>> How to: Taxidermy
How to prepare and handle birds for taxidermy.
>> Best of British
Andrew Tonkin writes about investing in best shotguns.
>> Steel Shot Update
Charles Duff gives a balanced view of the latest trends in the steel shot debate.
>> High speed Ammo
Charles Duff talks about shotgun ammo velocities.
>> How to shoot Rockies
Mike Hoy provides the dope on shooting rockies, those elusive jet fighters of gamebirds.