First of, this is my personal view on a topic that’s been on the news more recently the last couple months; some of you might have a different opinion. I love animals and I’m (slowly) becoming vegan – nonetheless I am not opposed to hunting big game.
Hunting in Germany is different from hunting in the US, but what’s similar is that either your family is a hunting family or they aren’t – mine isn’t. When I lived in Washington where I spend quite some time outdoors I got a better insight on hunting: friends in college were hunting Whitetails and I spend a significant amount of my spare time in Cabela’s stores – the foremost outfitter for hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts. At that time (or maybe still now) I imagined that when I’ll live on a bigger farm one day I’d be hunting too – primarily with a bow though which makes the action more difficult, gives you the feeling that the animal has a higher chance of surviving.
Well, I don’t live on my own farm yet – too young 🙂 – but the recent news about people hunting endangered species in Africa and how others are so resentful because of that made me think about this again. You might have all heard of Kendall Jones, the young Texan lady who got “popular” on the social media after posing with her trophies on big game hunts in Africa.
I’m a FGASA field guide and I’ve been close to Big5 game before. Approaching a group of rhinos or even lions by feet is an experience that’s hard to describe with words. In the NIKELA blog (it’s a non-profit organization that supports wildlife-saving campaigns) you’ll find an article about my first experience with a rhino. Wildlife fascinates me, the way how all species correlate with one another – from the tiniest insect to elephants, from primitive gras to big Acacia trees – they’re all part of ecosystems that are perfectly in balance – wouldn’t there be us humans. We made ecosystems fall out of balance – and national parks like Kruger Nat. Park or small reserves are our way of keeping the ecosystems going. Invasive plant species have to be taken out, controlled fires are used to fertilize soils and get rid off moribund, new species are introduced to keep another invasive one (let it be animal or plants) within boundaries.
Park managers control the populations and when a certain population gets too big, individuals have to be relocated – or they get shot!
Why shooting endangered species? If the hunt is legal (we’re not talking about the poaching issue) one species did harm to the certain ecosystem as the carrying capacity was exceeded and its size had to be lowered. If a species outgrows its capacity it will influence other species by increasing disease occurrences or starvation.
Letting a (foreign) hunter shoot this animal will firstly stop those negative effects, but most importantly there is a big economic factor to it. Southern African countries hugely depend on tourism as an income. In 2010 almost $80 million were generated in Africa from allowing hunters to shoot elephants to fulfill the quota of roughly 1500 individuals (i). Zimbabwe, a country with a very weak economy, generated $45 million from hunting last year with an expected increase of 30% (ii).
Moreover, trophy hunting supports local communities: the guides, trackers and other employees at hunting safaris are locals and by being employed they are able to feed their families. Often, the meat is given to the communities as well which prevents them from illegally poaching for their own needs.
This all makes you probably think that I’m totally pro-hunting; that’s not the case. Like I’ve said I’m not opposed to hunting, but knowing that we purposely kill endangered wildlife feels weird.
On the other side: The animals that are being shot by foreigners who pay up to several $10.000s for one hunt have had way better lives than any animal that is being processed to a steak or chicken wing which might have been your supper!
Think about it – how can you make an easy step towards treating animals humane and with respect? By being all loud and aghast about how a young, pretty lady like Kendall Jones shoots leopards and co? Or by eating less meat (I’m not even talking about being vegan) and only from local farmers which treat the animals the way we shall treat other beings?
Whatever you think about hunting endangered species ; the hunts are being monitored by authorities – all the illegal poaching that’s happening all over Africa isn’t, and that’s what’s threatening our wildlife!
So long, Nick