Crusaders slammed for 'canned hunt'
Cape Town - A South African environmental organisation has criticised Crusaders rugby players for participating in what it calls canned, or joyride, hunting.
The Landmark Foundation has used pictures of Crusaders players on a hunting trip in South Africa in its campaign against trophy hunting.
Photos posted on the Landmark Foundation Facebook page
depict Tom Taylor, George and Sam Whitelock, Ben Funnell and Tyler Bleyendaal posing with a gun and dead animals including a zebra, a blesbok, a gemsbok and an eland.
The post reads: When New Zealand rugby players have free time in South Africa, see what they get up to. Here are the Crusaders rugby players killing wildlife for laughs on a recent visit to South Africa. DISGRACEFUL!
Foundation director Dr Bool Smuts said none of the animals involved were endangered and he expected the hunting was legal.
However, he said the foundation is "against the whole concept of trophy hunting".
"If it was a biological intervention on a professional basis... for management of species and biodiversity we can understand that," Smuts told the Stuff.co.nz website
"When these people (hunters) come out they want to hunt the thing with the biggest horns, the most dominant males usually because they are the good trophies, so the natural selection is not natural at all."
Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said some players had gone on a hunting trip in April when the team was in South Africa, playing in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.
He said the players were "performing a perfectly legal activity in their own time".
"I guess the point is that there are things that all sorts of people do that other people don't see in the same way, and so everyone is free to behave legally and express their view in a courteous manner," Riach said.
Canned hunting is a trophy hunt in which an animal is kept in a confined area, such as in a fenced-in area, increasing the likelihood of the hunter obtaining a kill.