EXCLUSIVE: Mirror investigation reveals big-game hunter Adrian de Guisti is touting farmed tigers to be shot for £34,000 in South Africa where it is legal to hunt the animals bred in captivity
British trophy hunters are being offered the chance to shoot farmed tigers in sickening canned hunts for £34,000, the Mirror can reveal.
The endangered species is protected in 183 countries – but in South Africa it is legal to hunt tigers bred in captivity.
Big-game hunter Adrian de Guisti told our undercover reporter it was “big business” and offered to pay “good commission” for finding British clients.
But the practice is highly controversial and secretive, and he said he would be “burned on social media” if it got out.
De Guisti, who runs Gotsoma Safaris in Free State Province, said: “I have all five of the different tigers. I have Bengal, Siberian, the white, I’ve got the snow tiger, tabby tiger…
“I started breeding with tigers in South Africa in 1993. I’m currently charging US$45,000 [£34,000] for an adult tiger.”
It is thought 1,500 tigers live in over 70 breeding facilities in South Africa. Some are sent to zoos and private collectors but, with tiger parts highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine, they are worth more dead than alive.
It is feared many end up being shot for trophies and their body parts illegally exported to Asia. Our reporter spoke to De Guisti after we found he had posted, and then deleted, a photo on his website of a dead tiger next to a hunting bow.
Big-game hunting in Africa is increasingly popular among some wealthy Chinese customers and our undercover reporter posed as a British hunter with some clients keen to kill a tiger.
De Guisti said: “You did contact the right person. I am a specialist in exotics and I am a specialist in big-game hunting.
“I only do Big Five [lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo] and I then discuss additional trophies with the clients, but there’s a matter of trust that’s got to be bought first.”
He told us to book a “simple” hunting safaris, for a lion or buffalo, and went on: “You come with your clients. We sit around the table. I tell you what I can do. I put my cards on the table, you put your money on the table, then it’s game on.”
He was nervous that we were calling from the UK, saying: “90% of our trouble regarding big cats comes from Britain. If this call is recorded I’m going to be burned for it on social media. But if it’s a genuine situation we can definitely do business. You did find pictures of me hunting tigers… I’m not denying it.”
De Guisti admitted his business breeding lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars is dependent on income from hunting. He said: “No photographic safaris can create income for a guy like me in my business. It’s only the hunters’ money that does make it happen.”
Hunting captive tigers is allowed in South Africa, though some states require a permit. But they must not be “bred for trade in their parts and derivatives”, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species says.
De Guisti insisted what he did was “totally legal”. He added: “You can’t really export the tiger bones but they can export them as lion bones. You’ve got to be a specialist to see the difference.”
Fiona Miles of charity Four Paws said: “If we want to ensure big cats don’t only exist behind bars, we have to act now.”
Eduardo Goncalves, of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, said: “The British Government needs to take the lead and ban trophy hunting imports.
“We’ve been waiting two years since a ban was first promised and hundreds more animals have been shot by British hunters to decorate their living rooms.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.