Should hunting for pleasure be stopped?
The whole camp cheered as the hunting vehicle with the Arab and his freshly shot lion arrived. My heart pounded as I had the chance to see my first dead lion. The still bleeding carnivore got dragged from the car and now lay at my feet ( see image). I was suddenly not sure if I was in the right job.
I am not proud that for one season I worked for a Tanzanian hunting company, but at the time I didn’t have a choice. Despite the reassurances of my boss that everything was done in an ethical way, I saw multiple laws being contravened. I was even being asked by a white ‘conservationist’ hunter to keep certain things for myself. Like the bribing of a Tanzanian wildlife official in front of my nose.
That hunting is a very sensitive matter shows the sign in the image. The sign is from Maun (Botswana) and was erected by anti-hunting individuals. The original text on the sign read: "Kill me once or photograph me a thousand times". Two weeks later the text at the bottom was sprayed over it at night by hunting lobbyists.
The (African) hunting industry smells. And not only after carcasses.
Hunting in Africa
The debate whether we should be sports-hunting or not is old and those involved in the hunting industry have time and time again invented reasons to justify their profession. It apparently is good for conservation, it makes huge amounts of money for communities and it helps in combating poaching. That it helps in poverty reduction and anti-poaching is true, but whether it helps in conservation is, to say the least, dubious. How can one conserve by shooting something - especially endangered -down?
In recent years hunters from South Africa have found a new alternative to ‘wild-hunting’, which is called ‘canned-hunting’. What it boils down to is that animals, amongst them lions and (black) rhinos, are bred with the aim of releasing them on private farms for some rich oak to shoot them. Even the cute little lion cubs that you can touch as a tourist today might end up like gun fodder tomorrow.
Ronnie Crous that almost gets hurt in the video below is an acquaintance of mine from Botswana.
He is nice, I just don’t like his profession.
Hunting in ‘civilization’
But let’s not only look at Africa and stay a bit closer to home.
Foxes are vermin, deer are too many and pheasants belong on a plate. We also have our share of sports-hunters who are keen to use their index trigger finger and save us from wildlife in the 20km² of green that we have left. Is it true that we have too much of everything or should we make a more serious effort to conserve it? If we can change the attitude towards fur, why not to hunting in general? And I forgot to mention the hare-shooting. Those spread diseases. Shoot, shoot, shoot them. And imagine a deer causing a car accident. And, and..
Hunting world wide
During my time in Africa I often heard about an organization in the USA called ‘Safari Club International’ (SCI). These fellows have even created a bronze, silver and gold-system whereby hunters have to shoot rare animals on every continent. By the time you reach the gold-status, you have a trophy room full of heads, an elephant foot for your umbrellas and a lot of ‘adventurer stories’ to impress your millionaire friends. In the photographic safari world we refer to fellows like this as ‘those with the short man syndrome’: kill something dangerous (with a high powered rifle at 300 yards) and you are a real hero!
Seeing the above you can imagine that I was highly surprised when I came upon this article that mentioned that SCI had recently donated money to ‘Save the Rhino’, a rhino conservation organization in the UK. Its chairman is against killing, yet is eager to take the donations from SCI that promotes the killing of wildlife. Have we gone bonkers?
Time to act
Regarding the fact that we have a lot less species than we thought we had, that we are losing our bioDIEversity faster than we can protect it and that killing for fun is just not fashionable anymore, I think it is time that we come to our senses and say ‘let’s be wise and stop the blood shed’.
Hunting for reasons of conserving and anti-poaching are false. If those that pay up to $50.000 for a rhino would put their money where their mouth is, they could donate that same amount to anti-poaching teams without having to kill first.
Lets stop finding all the reasons to hunt wildlife. It is just too important to disappear.
Is this the solution?