Daily Maverick (South Africa)

Opinionista  Peter Flack  12 March 2019

154 Reactions

It is difficult to know where to begin to reply to Judy Malone, yet another non-African prescribing to Africans how they should conserve their wildlife and wildlife habitats while having absolutely no idea of how to go about doing this. The sheer volume of her emotive, disingenuous and dishonest claptrap defies belief.

In the article by Judy Malone, no sooner are you faced with one baseless piece of arrant BS than you are confronted with another accusation which is so unfounded it takes your breath away. For example:

1 “… the most prized trophy comes from the biggest and best individuals of the most at-risk species”.

What rubbish. Do you seriously think that hunters would want to destroy the very animals they love to hunt? In fact, the reverse applies. Such animals are not allowed to be hunted and, in the one or two cases where this is allowed, huge amounts of money are publicly raised for the conservation of the selfsame animals and there are many examples of this being successfully applied, for example, the old, non-breeding black rhino auctioned off in Namibia, which raised $350,000 for conservation of the species.

2 “Namibia has become a grim example of what happens when wildlife is depleted, hunting concessions abandoned and there is nothing much now for wildlife-watching tourists to see.”

Namibia’s hunting conservancy programme has been a major, award-winning, continental success story that has led to the reduction in poaching and the recovery of a number of endangered species such as Hartmann’s mountain zebra and the desert elephants, to name but two.

3 “Hunting is not remotely now and never has been a valid conservation tool. In fact, recent US studies report it is the single biggest threat to the future existence of larger mammals in particular.”

What recent US studies? Rubbish. IUCN, the World Conservation Union, the largest conservation body in the world and acting under the auspices of the United Nations, published a paper in 2016 entitled Informing Decisions on Trophy Hunting. It stated that “legal, well-regulated trophy hunting programmes can – and do – play an important role in delivering benefits for both wildlife conservation and for the livelihoods and well-being of indigenous and local communities living with wildlife… Well managed trophy hunting, which takes place in many parts of the world, can and does generate critically needed incentives and revenue for the government, private and community landowners to maintain and restore wildlife as land use and to carry out conservation actions (including anti-poaching interventions).

“It can return much-needed income, jobs, and other important economic and social benefits to indigenous and local communities in places where these benefits are often scarce. In many parts of the world, indigenous and local communities have chosen to use trophy hunting as a strategy for conservation of their wildlife and to improve sustainable livelihoods.”

4 “Sustainable utilisation is a term that has come to mean whatever a government wants it to mean, and is, in fact, nature-exploiting economic activity.”

Really? Again absolute rubbish. And what is wrong, incidentally, with exploiting a renewable natural resource if it is done legally, ethically and sustainably?

The questions for people like Malone are simple:

1 Do you want to conserve wildlife and wildlife habitat?

2 If so, other than stopping trophy hunting, what programmes would you institute to conserve wildlife and wildlife habitats?

3 Where and when have these programmes been successfully implemented before on a country-wide or continent-wide basis over any length of time?

4 Did you know that commercial bushmeat poaching conducted by the local, indigenous people is one of the biggest threats to wildlife? In a joint statement released by IUCN, FAO and TRAFFIC, they stated that: “Wild meat harvest is now the primary illegal activity in many protected areas.”

So, do you think this should be allowed to continue?

There are other questions, for example:

1 How do you explain the hunting-led conservation revolution which has swept South Africa and created more wildlife on more land than at any time in the last 100 years?

2 How do you explain the dramatic loss of wildlife in Kenya since it banned hunting in 1977?

3 How do you explain the massive outbreak in poaching in Botswana since it stopped hunting a few years ago?

4 Is it really just trophy hunting you want to stop or is your ultimate goal to stop all people eating animal protein or using animals in any way?

5 Given the huge tonnage of animal protein that hunting produces, what are you going to do to replace it or do you want people to just eat vegetables?

6 What are you going to do to replace the huge number of jobs provided, directly and indirectly, by hunting?

Apart from the inability of the Malones of this world to answer any of these questions and many other related ones in a coherent, logical and science-based manner, what really ticks me off is that they want to take away part of my culture, part of my genetic make-up, not by proving to the world that their philosophy is correctly based on tried and tested scientific facts, but merely by harnessing urban social media to good effect.

For over 95% of the time that we humans have been on Earth in our current form, we have hunted to provide for and protect our families, and now these people feel they can impose their nonsensical values on others.

They do not know what they are talking about. Their untried, untested, impractical theories are based on emotional, urban, knee-jerk reactions fed by a constant stream of ill-informed, self-reinforcing, politically correct, social media rhetoric based on animal rightist propaganda which, ultimately, wants to stop people eating meat or fish or using animals in any way.

They are a present and significant danger to Africa and the conservation of its wonderful wildlife and wildlife habitats. And, if you think they are going to stop at trophy hunting, think again. DM