A great piece from a fantastic gal and true friend to conservation!
There should be no reason for hunters to be defensive or to hide their passion. Sustainable hunting has proved to be a major conservation tool in the 21st century. It contributes towards maintaining wildlife populations and biodiversity in general by giving wild animals a value far greater than that of their meat.
In 1905 Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as having said: “In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen.” That sentiment has been echoed repeatedly since. In order to ensure the survival of wildlife we must add value to them to make them essential to the benefit of human beings, especially in rural areas. That is the simple reality of our time in Africa. It has been argued by moral absolutists that wilderness should not have to justify its existence by being productive, but the truth on our continent is that if land use does not provide meaningful economic and social upliftment, the future of our wildlife is threatened.
The investments of international trophy hunters into the protection of natural habitats are major. The income hunters provide for landowners and communities serves as a powerful economic incentive for the conservation of nature. A strong wildlife industry has been created that, linked to tourism, is a major contributor to the national economy. Income and other benefits such as jobs and training linked to wildlife and tourism in communal area conservancies as well as commercial farming areas are contributing to combating poverty.
Man has hunted, fished and gathered since the beginning of time. Traditionally the hunt has been for meat, to protect farms and villages, to improve his competitive social standing, or simply to prove his dominance over nature. Hunting is ingrained in most cultures. By its nature trophy hunting is the quest for the ultimate ‘trophy’ the most impressive, largest and/or heaviest specimen. Although selective, ethical and sustainable trophy hunting has proved to be a great conservation success, the sometimes obsessive demand for the inch, or certain elusive species, and the lure of the dollar often cloud this ideal. Like any market, trophy hunting is dictated by the principles of supply and demand, so as long as there are clients out there willing to pay big bucks to hunt certain trophies ‘by any means’, there will be operators willing to offer canned or other unethical and illegal forms of hunting – provided they continue to get away with it.
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