by Gerhard R Damm
Extract from The Conservation Game, Saving Africa’s Biodiversity, 1st Edition 2002
Ortega y Gasset a Spanish philosopher observed in an essay that “the true hunter does not hunt to kill; the hunter kills in order to have hunted”. He further states... “as the weapons became more and more effective, man increasingly imposed limitations upon himself as the animal’s rival in order to leave it free to practice it’s wily defences, to avoid making the prey and the hunter excessively unequal, as if passing beyond a certain limit in that relationship will annihilate the essential character of the hunt, transforming it to pure killing and destruction!”
With these observations, Ortega y Gasset aptly summed up the ethical background of today’s sport hunter.
Subsistence hunting in most of Europe and North America had disappeared with the advance of cities and industrialisation and trophy hunting took its place. As a consequence of that development, as well as because of the technical evolution of hunting tools, the hunt became increasingly ritualised. Ever more elaborate codes of hunting conduct were created. These codes were and are subject to evolutionary change and adaptation according to the prevailing “Zeitgeist”.
In the third millennium, the privilege of being able to hunt exacts the responsibility and obligation of the sport hunter to demand an ethical experience and the obligation for the hunting guide and/or professional hunter, to provide such an experience. This privilege also demands of all participants an ethical respect for nature and a sincere commitment that wildlife and wildlife habitat, in all their natural diversity, be maintained and enhanced.
|What Is a Trophy?
“…a tangible reminder of a victory won in competition?”
One thing that a trophy should not represent is a victory over the animal pursued, nor over other hunters!
“…a tangible reminder of an achievement or experience that deserves preservation and, perhaps, display?”
True trophies hang not on the wall, but reside in the hearts and minds. Where trophies do adorn the walls, they should be admired for themselves and what they represent of their wild homes that are habitat to them and the hunter.
|The true trophy is the experience of the hunter in the pursuit of an animal in the wild lands; therefore a trophy can exist, even if no animal was taken, or if an animal taken does not meet the common definition of a trophy in terms of size of the horns!|
|The Hunter as Conservationist
• An awareness of challenges to wildlife, habitat and hunting
• An understanding of the social, political, ecological and economic role of hunting in the modern society.
• A set of values and feelings of concern for the environment and the future of hunting
• Skills for identifying and solving public concerns through personal conduct and advocacy
Active involvement in working towards resolving hunting problems by using acquired knowl- edge and skills and taking thoughtful, positive action
|Mission Statement Boone & Crockett Club
To promote the guardianship and provident management of big game and associated wildlife in North America and to maintain the highest standards of Fair Chase … in order that this resource of all people may survive and prosper in its natural habitats.
Hunters usually argue that hunting is as old as humanity - but in reality the hunt and hunting is much older. It forms the instinctual basis of existence of many life forms past and present and it is part of nature and with that, also of the human nature. The hunter venturing into the outdoors follows an ancient tradition with its roots deep in the very beginning of our evolution. The desire to hunt - even when hunting may no longer be essential to survival - remains a natural drive and, is ethically pursued, a socially acceptable activity.
It should be noted that hunters have been leaders in conservation long before it be- came fashionable or politically correct and, they still are leaders. It was hunters who founded the Fauna Preservation Society and convened the 1900 London Convention.
In America, in 1887, five years before John Muir established the Sierra Club, Theodore Roosevelt founded the Boone & Crockett Club. One of the objectives of the club was “the preservation of the large game of the country”. When he became president of the USA, Roosevelt did more for conservation than any other American head of state, before or since (R. Bonner 1993).
Leaders of the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) like Sir Peter Scott, H. R. H. Prince Bernhard and H. R. H. Prince Philip are all hunters.
In South Africa hunters were the founders of the first game conservation association in our country in 1886, one year before Roosevelt’s Boone & Crockett Club. It was called the Western Districts Game Protection Association “WDGPA”. This organisation eventually developed into what became known as the “Wildlife Society of South Africa”.
|The US Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 (Pittman Robertson Act)
In 63 years of existence the act has generated more than $3.3 billion in funding to US state wildlife agencies. In recent years the system generated more than $200 million annually in federal tax revenues.
The Act is the most successful user-paid (hunters and anglers) conservation programme worldwide. A tax of 11% is levied on the manufacturing cost of every rifle, shotgun, box of ammo, etc. Taxes are paid by the manufacturer but assumed by the consumer in the final selling price. The monies go into a special Conservation Trust Fund. Every three dollars spent by the US Fish & Wildlife Service from this fund in state conservation projects must be matched by an additional dollar from the benefiting state.
Project funding by hunters’ dollars in restoring, enhancing and managing wildlife populations and habitats had multiple uses and values for all non-hunters. The tax paid by the hunters is the backbone of such programs.
|Hunting Revenue in Tanzania (1996 in SA Rand)
Block Leases 7.4 million
License Fees 1.1 million
Conservation Fees 10.1 million
Hunting Fees 1.6 million
Trophy Fees 36.2 million
Total* 56.4 million
* This total does not include the daily rates charged by the outfitters. It is the money due to the state only.
|Hunting in Germany - Annual Expenditure 1995 (in SA Rand)
Hunting Taxes 455 million
Insurance 88 million
Leases* 2,400 million
to GDP 1,800 million
Total ** 4,700 million
*paid to landowners
** net contribution to German GDP
Sport or trophy hunting presents conservationists with an uncomfortable dilemma. They do not like killing animals and they do know that most people, who give money to conservation organisations, deplore hunting 260. At the same time, conservationists realise that hunting is a necessity in conservation 261 (R Bonner 1993, R East 1999). Hunting white rhino in South Africa generated more than 190 million Rand (US$24 million) between 1968 and 1996, most of it in direct earnings to conservation according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). In the Southern African countries with healthy and rapidly expanding elephant populations, one part of the cost of conservation management, could be recovered with the strictly controlled and selective hunting of elephant 262 in designated natural areas or reserves.
“Conservation will not succeed with full effectiveness in Africa without hunting. It is not a debate or consideration whether true conservation organisations partner hunting organisations, it is a given. Our constitution supports sustainable use and sustainable hunting is one form thereof” (Dr. Rob Little, WWF-SA, February 2002). David Western, former director of Wildlife Conservation International (the field research arm of the New York Zoological Society) and of Kenya Wildlife Service, supports hunting as a conservation tool 263. The South African conservationist, Dr Ian Player, said in a letter to the author in 1998 that he fully endorses ethical hunting and hunting’s place in conservation. Russell Train, former Chairman of WWF-US believes “that elephant hunting provides the most cost-effective form of producing economic benefits for local people that you can find”.
260 The public tends to call any killing of a wild animal with a rifle “hunting”; nothing is farther from truth. See chapter on culling and game ranching
261 An outstanding example of hunter and non-hunter cooperation to provide a solid future for wildlife is the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Millions of hectares of habitat have been rehabilitated and secured through an expenditure of over 70 billion Rand raised during the past decade. The plan restores wetlands and terrestrial ecosystems destroyed by human activities. One success is the dramatic recovery of prairie duck populations
262 Hunting of elephant by visiting sport hunters is cost effective, profitable and easily monitored. Moreover the killing of selected bulls has no impact on breeding behaviour of the population. The stakeholders and beneficiaries in an elephant hunt include the hunter, the professional hunter, employees and dependants, the regulatory authority/agency (Nature Conservation and/or Parks Boards) and the people who live with the elephant (rural community). Of course also the elephant population, since the money earned in killing a low number of selected individuals assists in the conservation of the species!
263 Prior to the close of all sport hunting in 1977 (hunting by landowners and culling remains permitted), Kenya had the reputation of providing some of the finest trophy hunting in Africa. A Kenya Wildlife Service report in the year 1995 recommended that trophy hunting should be reopened in Kenya with the prospect that well-managed international trophy hunting will contribute to the development of the country’s wildlife utilisation industry (Georgiadis & Heath 1998)
|Hunting & Conservation
“Now that I am free to state my own position on hunting without weighing in on one side or the other while acting as moderator of the debate, I would like the record to show that I thoroughly agree with Rod East’s pro-hunting arguments as expressed in the African Antelope Database 1998.
Sport hunting is the life blood (an irony when the blood is that of the hunted animals!) of most government and private protected areas outside parks and strict nature reserves. The goal that must always be kept in view is to save as much wildlife habitat from being destroyed as possible, by all possible means.
I know that the growing animal rights movement is hurting rather than helping wildlife conservation. Their activists are part of the problem and not the solution. It is one thing to have scruples about killing animals – as a student of behaviour I place the highest value on living animals and refrain from hunting them. But, attempts to ban hunting, make conservation that much harder, and ignore the biological reality that every normal population produces a surplus which, if not kept in check by mortality equal to the rate of increase, would soon outstrip its resources. Although I have never followed through, for many years now I have thought of importing and selling the biltong of the common African antelopes as a means of funding ASG action plans for endangered species. The biltong package would help to counter animal-rights doctrine by stressing the sustainable use of this natural surplus.”
Dr. Richard D. Estes - Chair (IUCN Antelope Specialist Group, February 2002.
The arguments for hunting are not only economy based, there are also a number of important environmental aspects. A lucrative hunting industry can be established with a limited capital investment, without large hotels and lodges, or even a road network 264. Moreover, sport hunting in Africa makes use of large tracts of land, which because of their low-density wildlife populations 265 and monotonous landscapes, are very unattractive to the “normal” ecotourist. This serves indigenous populations, who otherwise would have no chance of financially benefiting from their natural assets 266.
In Botswana, ecotourism needs an investment of about 120 Rand per hectare and generates a return on capital of 28% over a period of ten years. Trophy hunting incurs only a minimal investment of 6 Rand per hectare, but generates 38% return on investment267. The investment figures for ecotourism and trophy hunting relate to private investment on state owned land. Game farms on private land need an investment of about 260 Rand per hectare and generate only 7% return over the same period
Today sport hunting is an important factor in generating the substantial revenues for holistic wildlife management and it is, therefore, one of the best ways to conserve biodiversity (John Ledger, 1994). In Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) schemes, sport hunting often delivers important contributions to the financial results, although the creation of proper and just revenue sharing systems is badly needed in some African countries. Nevertheless it is a fact that the revenue earned through sport hunting is a major conservation incentive for rural people.
264 The sustainable utilisation of wild animals through trophy hunting offers economic incentives to the local rural population, reduces poaching and offers incentives to conserve critical habitat (Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director UNEP, 2001)
265 Low-density due to carrying capacity restrictions
266 For details on a successful project go to http://www.cullmanandhurt.org/
267 Compare this with an investment of 136 Rand per hectare on beef cattle ranches and a return of 2%, or with ostrich farms (investment 45,000 Rand/hectare – return 19%)
|SCI African Chapter Fair Chase Definition
Every sport hunter shall pursue an animal only by engaging in fair chase of the quarry. Fair Chase is defined as pursuit of a free ranging animal possessed of the natural behavioral inclination to escape from the hunter and be fully free to do so.
A sport hunted animal should exist as a naturally interacting individual of a wild sustainable population, located in an area that meets both the spatial (territory and home range) and temporal (food, breeding, and basic needs) requirements of the population, of which that individual is a member. Sport hunted animals should, wherever possible be sustained within an ecologically functional system.
The animal is to be hunted without artificial light source, or motorised mode of transport and in an area that does not by human design concentrate animals for a specific purpose or at a specific time, such as a water-hole, salt lick or feeding station. No ethical hunter shall take female animals with dependant young.
Source: SCI African Chapter,1997
One may argue that the hunter’s involvement in conservation and wildlife management is self-serving, i. e. for the purpose of having game to hunt! This is certainly true to a large extent, but concerted and successful efforts 268 are always the result of a good portion of self-interest. Wild game had so little value in South Africa, that until the 1960’s, only ten fenced game farms had been developed (Fritz Eloff). As a result of a change in the legislation according to a concept proposed by hunters, wild game got a proprietary value and commercial farming began yielding before game ranching. Today South Africa probably has over 10,000 game ranches covering more than 12 million hectares 269. The area under private conservation management has probably increased at a compound rate of 5.6% per year.
The economic value of sport hunting has assisted in bringing about this change in the state of conservation (animal numbers and habitat) in South Africa, in less than 40 years! Independent research by universities in Pretoria and Potchefstroom has established the significant economic contribution that hunting makes annually towards the South African GNP and to conservation. The Eastern Cape Provincial Government has published the economic contribution of overseas trophy hunters for the year 2001. The hunting of 8900 animals generated about 122 million Rand – 86 million Rand thereof as direct trophy fees and daily rates, while 36 million Rand come from sectors such as taxidermy, curio sales, car hire, hotel accommodation, airfares, etc. Considering the figures of the other South African provinces as well as the substantially higher economic contribution of the local South African hunters a multi-billion Rand total is reached for the entire country (Peter H Flack, 2002). The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa published in their “South African Hunting Guide 2002 270” that the country hosted approx. 8000 foreign hunters (inclusive of accompanying non hunters) in 2001. The 2001 revenue from daily rates, trophy fees and taxidermy work amounted to approx. 800 million Rand and supports around 70,000 jobs.
268 In Cameroon the 12 trophy hunting concessions leased to professional hunters and surrounding the Bouba Ndjida, Benoue and Faro National Parks boast of higher wildlife densities than the national parks. Whereas the 14 hunting zones not leased out suffer severe encroachment by settlement and cropland expansion as well as poaching (R East 1999)
269 This represents more than double the area of protected areas, thus giving South Africa approx. 22% of its land under wildlife conservation programmes (Prof. Piet du Plessis, 2002) 270 Obtainable from PHASA email@example.com
|Advantages of Trophy Hunting
• Increased value of wildlife for the rural population and with it a stronger interest to conserve species and habitat.
• Expansion and integration of wildlife utilisation areas with protected areas, thus assisting in securing ecosystems and wildlife migration patterns.
• Securing the interest of private or communal landowners to keep and/or reintroduce autochthonous species and populations on areas, which might otherwise be taken over by alternative land-uses like agriculture, industrial or urban development, etc.
• Constant anti-poaching controls.
|Disadvantages of Trophy Hunting
• Decreasing wildlife populations through unsustainableable management.
• Decreasing reproduction rates, i. e. through stress factors or infanticide (in the case of lion).
• Disturbances in the age structure and social structure of wildlife populations.
• Changes in genetic variety.
Zimbabwe has earned more than Z$2 billion annually (about US$40 million) from sport hunting during the past four years. In Botswana the annual income through sport hunting ranges in the region of BWP59 million (about US$12.6 million). Significant for Botswana is the fact that BWP45 million remain in the national economy, and even more significant is, that BWP25.5 million stay at district level with the population where the wild resources occur and where people have to live with the wildlife resource271. Considering the fact that the hunting concessions cover areas which are not frequented by the “normal” tourist, since they are outside the glamorous parks and reserves, without the luxurious lodges, the contribution to community development and poverty relief are markedly higher than indicated by the naked figures.
Economics are, however, just one side - it is clear that hunting must be practised under the banner of sustainability. Scientific research, wildlife monitoring and adaptive wildlife management processes deliver the information and tools to set conservative harvest quotas, which ensure that the species populations thrive, thus also eliminating any of the disadvantages commonly associated with trophy hunting (see box 10 and chapters 3.10, 3.11, 3.12).
Trophy hunting272 in the modern sense has its place in human culture just as subsistence hunting. A hunting trophy is a way of remembering a particular experience, valuable and important to the particular individual. As such it is absolutely legitimate and acceptable that an individual hunter collects and cherishes such tokens of remembrance. And just like in sports and in many other aspects of human life we find that a hunting trophy is all the more valuable to the hunter, if the difficulties associated with collecting this particular trophy are exceptional. Again – as with all aspects of human life – selfdiscipline in trophy hunting is a key factor. The trophy must be the result, and not the ultimate objective of hunting!
Unethical hunting practices by sport hunters and professional hunters have been much publicised in the media (i.e. Cooke Report, Carte Blanche in 1998 and 2002, Africa Geographic June-2002) and have given hunting a bad name in the view of the general public. Canned273 or “Put & Take”274 shooting, whenthe animal is either confined to a small area and/or new area have nothing to do with hunting275. It is an activity, which is borne from greed for significant financial gains (on the part of the landowner and professional hunter) and out of egotism, vanity or other sinister motives (on the part of the knowing client “hunter”). Provincial and national legislative bodies and nature conservation agencies are under the obligation to urgently develop adequate legislation to prevent this practice and then strictly enforce the law. It is actually also the obligation of all hunting organisations in Africa and around the globe to lobby intensively with the respective authorities for a quick solution to the problem of “canned and put & take shooting” (compare also chapter 3.3).
Is it right to kill animals at a waterhole or at a bait? Maybe one has to go back to the origins of hunting – and then this question must be answered with yes, since these are elementary and ancient forms of hunting techniques. However, modern man, hunting with a modern rifle with telescopic sight or with a high-tech compound bow with a myriad of accessories, must let his or her individual sense of responsibility govern actions in the field. He or she must reflect on the consequences of these actions and must weigh them accordingly.
”Green Hunting” has recently been proposed, both as an alternative means of hunting endangered species and for the re-utilisation of magnificent trophy specimens. The concept is that an animal can be "hunted" (immobilised) repeatedly and hence becomes an effective renewable resource. Hunters’ associations in Africa, however, would rather see that darting of animals not be called hunting276, although they agree to the concept that animal owners could commercialise the opportunity to participate in immobilising wildlife for research and/or translocation purposes. That is to say, however, if appropriate animal welfare standards were adhered to. This point of view is in line with the Veterinary Council of South Africa, whose statutes also prohibit the use of immobilising drugs for capturing wildlife other than for genuine research, capture and translocation.
Studies done on rhino have indicated that repeated immobilisation of an animal plays a part in reducing fecundity. The morphine derivatives, of which M99 (the drug used for immobilisation) is one, have shown to have specific inhibitory effects on the secretion of reproductive hormones by the Hypophysis (J. Skinner, 2001). The Wildlife Group of the South African Veterinary Association has therefore suggested that an animal be darted only once a year.
271 From “Economic Analysis of Commercial Consumptive Use of Wildlife in Botswana”, BWMA, 2001
272 Agitation against sustainable trophy hunting by animal rights groups in western countries is a major threat to the future of Africa’s wildlife. It is not only a new form of colonialism but it would also result in the rapid destruction of Africa’s remaining wildlife resources by removing the economic justification for their conservation (IUCN Antelope Database 1998, R. East)
273 It is generally accepted that “canned” in connection with killing an animal means that the animal is impaired in its natural inclination to flee from the hunter either by means of drugs or by restraints such as small fenced enclosures, cages, ropes, chains, habituation to human presence, etc.
274 Put & Take refers to the releasing of captured and bought animals into fenced enclosures for the sole purpose of having them killing by paying clients. The game rancher has in this case no intention to build up neither a breeding stock or nor a viable population. The animal(s) are released and killed within a matter of days or weeks after release. The paying trophy hunter does not necessarily know that the ranch owner practises “Put & Take”. The size of the enclosure does not play an important role, since even in huge tracts of fenced land, newly released animals will usually wander along the fence lines in the first days/weeks of being in the enclosure
275 All hunting organisations condemn the practice of “canned shooting” – be it lion, rhino or any other animal. They do not consider the practice to be any form of hunting. See also the code of ethics of the SCI African Chapter
276 Hunting is defined as the harvesting of a wild animal by lethal means subject to certain formal and informal legal and ethical rules, i. e. the killing of the animal in the process of hunting with rifle, archery equipment or other legal means
|Hunting & Angling Revenue USA 2001
Total expenditure US$70 billion
Thereof Trip expenses US$20 billion
Equipment US$41 billion
Memberships, fees, contributions, etc. US$7.7 billion
Licenses US$1.3 billion
The license fees and the excise tax collected through the Pittman Robertson Act are the principal funding sources for wildlife management by state wildlife agencies.
30% of the reported 66 million American wildlife watchers in 2001 were hunters.
Source: SCI, 2002
The hallmarks of the rich tradition of trophy hunting are compliance with all laws, the observance of the true spirit of fair chase, the obligation to harvest wildlife humanely and an abiding respect for and knowledge about biodiversity. It is, therefore, the responsibility and obligation of each hunter to advocate and practice high ethical standards and to conserve biodiversity.
What is needed are visionary, committed, civic-minded hunters, who will step up the efforts for a restoration of the hunter to the conservation legacy which formed part of the vision of men like former US President Theodore Roosevelt.
The hunters must accept that they may not be judged on past accomplishments, but more importantly on whether they succeed in positioning the trophy hunter as a true conservationist.
Humanity’s obvious and common objective of biodiversity conservation dictates that hunters and non-hunters of today’s global society enter into factual and civilised dialogue and most importantly show tolerance. Dialogue and compromise are essential! Only broadest-based conservation alliances throughout all sectors of the human society on Earth will contribute sustainably to biodiversity’s salvation.
Of critical importance for the credibility of hunters within a modern society are ecological motivation, sound conservation practices and ethical behavior. The entire world is asked today to be more ecologically orientated.
The third millennium will require that not only the hunters, but the entire human population of this planet be measured with the ecological yardstick. This will require the hunters to accept more stringent control measures and regulations paired with individual moderation and personal conservation involvement. The control mechanisms of informal and formal codes and laws, and most importantly self discipline in pursuing an activity, which is by and large uniquely individual and away from the crowds must be strengthened by adequate preparation and peer pressure.
|KZN Wildlife & Hunting
KZN Wildlife (formerly Natal Parks Board) realised that successful biodiversity conservation must involve private landowners. Therefore the Natal Parks Board designed a programme to encourage private landowners in the proper management and care of wildlife on private land as early as 1963.
The availability of surplus mammals form the NPB became a critical tool in building constructive relationships with farmers and other landowners. Hunting was encouraged on private lands (Mentis 1972-73). The aim of the Board’s policy was to spread wildlife populations throughout the province, making species less vulnerable and giving them an economic value. Even the hunting of white rhinoceroses was encouraged and trophy animals were made available for this purpose. The freedom of landowners to use wildlife and benefit directly from its sustainable use, was formally noted in NPB Ordinance 15 of 1974.
In 1988 the Board’s policy form making wildlife available at subsidised prizes changed to selling through auction and allowing market forces to drive the price of wildlife. The annual game auction of KZN wildlife has developed into Africa’s premier and benchmark market for wildlife.
Source: The Natal Parks Board Experience in Southern Africa, Dr. G. R. Hughes, 2001
Without having a closer look at traditional hunting in Africa, this chapter would not only be incomplete, but also lacking a material factor in wildlife conservation on the African continent. Generations of Africans have used the wildlife resources around them to meet their dietary, cultural, and economic needs. These uses of wildlife represent relationships and traditions that are deeply rooted in African and human history and experience 277. They may be of subsistence nature, such as the direct use of meat, skins, ivory, medicinal plants, timber, etc. Use also includes activities that support the livelihood of rural Africans indirectly by generating cash income or barter possibilities that allow families and communities to enjoy a reasonable level of dignity and economic security. The traditional African usage of wildlife to meet human needs and the integral role of wildlife in rural African life, has created the cultural heritage of the African conservation ethics. This particular concept was added to the “modern” conservation vocabulary only fairly recently with the expression “sustainable use”.
Hunting was vital to most African people across the continent. The Ndebele, Zulu, San and Tswana from Southern Africa, the Bisa and Bembe of Central Africa, the Kamba, Nyamwezi, Shambaa, Wata, Ndorobo and Kikuyo of Eastern Africa are just a few examples. Hunters occupy a highly respected position in rural African society, and boys pass to manhood usually through rites of passage connected with hunting.
Almost all African people hunted and hunting was not only necessary, but also preferred; it was exciting and romantic 278. Most African tribes have a vast treasure of hunting lore and hunting exerted a strong influence on cultural expressions, like dance and song. Hunting provided both recreation and training, supplied goods for domestic use and for barter and sale and also had an distinct elitist component by offering the rulers symbolic dominance over the environment (i. e. Shaka – The Great Royal Hunt 279) and means of asserting territorial control (Adams/McShane, 1992).
277 Traditional hunting also assisted in establishing a “mobile ecological equilibrium” according to the entomologist John Ford, by regulating wildlife populations, which provided hosts to the dreaded tsetse fly
278 “The hunter with his bow and poisoned arrows is a popular image of the Kalahari hunter-gatherers. Hunting was not, however, as vital for the survival of these people as is often believed, for studies have shown that meat constituted only a small part of their diet. The importance of hunting lay in its significance as a source of prestige for men and in the provision of sought-after delicacies in the sharing of which social ties within the band were emphasised and reinforced.” (G. Klinghardt, 1991998)
279 Shaka Zulu – The Rise of the Zulu Empire, E. A Ritter 1955
|Traditional Dog Hunts
Efforts to regulate dog hunts in KwaZulu-Natal have put that province's conservation authority in a Catch-22 situation. "We are criticized if we don't tackle the situation and also criticized if we dare propose a way of doing so," said KZN Wildlife chief executive-elect Khulani Mkhize. The pilot dog hunt in the Impendle area came at a time when news about problem animal control hunting leopard with dogs (by trophy hunters) had already caused uproar in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
"Conservation in KZN … would be failing in its duty if we were to ignore the dog hunting issue," Mr. Mkhize said. "The hunt demonstrated that a well-disciplined, well-organised and supervised hunt could succeed."
Facilitated by KZN Wildlife, the hunt was arranged by the Impendle Hunters' Association, with co-operation from the landowner, who allows only three hunts a year on his property during hunting season when no lambs are present. Hunters were permitted to hunt only adult male reedbuck.
"We desperately need to address this issue and I appeal to the appropriate NGOs to work with us toward a common understanding and solution to the problem," Mr. Mkhize said.
"It is essential we act objectively and set emotions aside. In the case of any future hunt with dogs, KZN Wildlife and the landowners will monitor each hunt. A permit will only be issued once KZN Wildlife is satisfied with the bona fides of the event and, importantly, there will always be a limit on the number of dogs and hunters."
Source: Wildnet Africa (abbrev.), 2001
The Western conservation ethic is the result of the industrialisation of the past two centuries and the concomitant loss of wildlife in the industrialised countries of the northern hemisphere. In combination with the history of gradual discovery and colonisation of Africa by the northern nations grew a European view of Africa as a glorious Eden for Wildlife, a virgin land, unsullied by human hands. The early “White Hunters” in Africa – people like Roualeyn Gordon Cumming, Sir Samuel Baker, Frederick Courtenay Selous, as well as explorers like David Livingstone andHenry M. Stanley and later people like Dr. Bernhard Grzimek 280 contributed to that mythological view of Africa with their popular writings 281.
The codes of conduct and the spirit of “Fair Chase” are integral and essential parts of sport hunting in Africa today. These codes, of essentially Judaeo-Christian origin, had predecessors which provoked the early foreign hunters and explorers – and with them the general public of these days – to denounce traditional African subsistence hunting methods as barbarous and unfair. They applied a Euro-centric yardstick, conveniently overlooking the fact that traditional hunting in Africa was always regulated by strict rules and codes of conduct, which were enforced by the tribal leaders. Their traditional ethics may not seem acceptable to a wide Western public, but one could argue that their cultural and environmental content is at least as valuable as the Judaeo-Christian version.
280 Dr. Bernhard Grzimek, former director of the Frankfurt Zoo and author of “Serengeti Shall Not Die” (1956) and “No Room For Wild Animals” (1960)
281 Compare also Chapter “Introduction” with remarks about the book “The Myths of Wild Af- rica” (Jonathan S. Adams and Thomas O. McShane) published in 1992. The paperback issue with the authors’new afterword was reprinted in 1996
|Makah Hunt Grey Whale
The Makah Nation, a Native American group from Washington State harpooned a grey whale on May 17, 1999. Anti-whaling activists vigorously opposed the killing and protesters used disruptive tactics to hinder earlier hunts.
The Pacific Ocean population of grey whales had recovered to 26,000 by 1994 (from a historical low of 4,000) and its status as endangered was lifted. The Makah received an exemption from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to kill up to 20 whales by 2004 for cultural and subsistence purposes, with an annual maximum of 5 whales.
The Makah argued that whale hunting is a matter of cultural pride and a key element in preserving the Makah language and culture. The Makah hunt-management plan explicitly prohibits the sale, or trade, of whale meat.
As a consequence of that, the European-driven introduction of game laws and of vast protected areas, seemingly without human settlements, ignored the existing interaction of wildlife and people. Furthermore, the spread of “European” agriculture again conveniently “overlooked” the key role traditional hunting had played in shaping the African cultures and its continuing relevance in terms of the relationship between Africans and wildlife 282. It is not astonishing that the traditional African conservation ethic eventually broke down. A closer study of the traditional African hunting societies reveals that at no time in their history Africans existed as “the noble savage – living in harmony with nature”, although romantic European explorers successfully applied this stereotype. Africans, like all other human beings were and are dependant on their environment and alter that environment to suit their needs. They did so in the past and they are doing so today.
It seems important that the future of conservation and sustainable use in Africa develops suitable schemes of integration and cooperation between the still largely overseas dominated sport hunting and the traditional African hunter 283. In order to achieve that objective, safari-hunting companies need to involve rural communities at a much higher and significantly more participatory level, than what is presently the case.
This applies to ownership, management, professional hunters and employment, as well as to conservation measures. True economic partnerships and equality of opportunities, could then replace the current practice of “hand-outs”. Furthermore it seems to be obvious that the rich traditional hunting lore of indigenous professional hunters, their intimate knowledge of the bush and indeed all living things in their immediate environment, as well as their knowledge of their own peoples’ traditions and history, would greatly enrich the safari experience of any visiting hunter 284.
The interaction between the modern sport hunters with their particular hunting codes and ethics and the knowledgeable traditional African hunter must leave the condescending level of “overseas hunter” (respectively professional hunter) and “native tracker” and lead to a mutual understanding of values and cultures.
282 In a letter to the editor of “Magnum” (February 2002), Mr. A. Desai comments on his personal experiences on a traditional dog hunt with the Impendhle Hunters’ Association on the farm of a Mr. Smith: “At all times the dogs were under total control and very obedient to their handlers’ commands. Of five reedbuck flushed, the handlers released their dogs on two male specimens, for which they had KZN Wildlife permits. Mr. Smith commented that with the Impendlhe Hunters Association members acting as guardians on his farm, stock losses through theft had diminished and game numbers had increased” (full text in Magnum February 2002 issue)
283 The Friedkin Foundation has started an initiative of cooperation in Tanzania; details under http://tgts.com/FriedkinReport.shtml
284 Visiting hunters in Canada’s western provinces and the Nunavut region (part of the old Northwest Territories which were given back to the indigenous Inuit and Indian tribes for self government) always had the privilege to be guided by either local Inuit or Indian hunting guides. A good number of outfitting companies are owned and operated by indigenous (in North America often called “First Nations”) people.
|A Provocative Proposal
Richard Bell, co-director of the Luangwa Integrated Resource Development Project (LIRDP), suggested that traditional hunting should be integrated into conservation. In Bell’s opinion, it makes sense to capitalise on the knowledge and techniques of local hunters.
His plan would encourage hunting for high cash value products – particularly ivory – at the expense of mere subsistence hunting. The conservation authority would buy the ivory, trophies, skins and whatever meat is not used locally and then resell it. Revenue, as well as most of the meat, would go directly to local communities and the conservation authority would earn money to support its programmes and would be in a better position to control illegal hunting, as well as the marketplace.
Source: “The Myth of Africa”, Adams/McShane, 1992
Hunting – be it modern trophy hunting or traditional hunting by aboriginal or indigenous people – is one of many tools to conserve biodiversity on Earth. In Africa, the importance of hunting for conservation is undeniable. The contradiction between the killing of animals and hunting’s contribution to conservation – often cited by critics of hunting - results from a lack of understanding or willingness to impartially evaluate the issues. Those who denounce hunting possibly consider this ancient human inheritance a disturbance factor in today’s urban-based value systems, since these systems have largely lost their traditional and cultural roots and direct connection with nature. The average modern urbanite is at the most a mere observer of nature, whereas the hunter – modern or traditional – still intensively lives and acts within and as part of the natural system. For these reasons, the hunter usually knows more about biodiversity than his urban counterpart. Yet, the layperson often negates the hunters’ competence on basis of the mentioned “killing argument”, without even trying to engage into a discussion of the essential topics of biodiversity conservation.
Like with all groups within human society, hunters and those associated with hunting, have people within their social group who do not conform to the law and the moral/ethical standards of their group or of society. This is unfortunate, but in a pluralistic society unavoidable. Public criticism of unacceptable individual actions is, therefore, justified and essential. The critics should, however, not fall into the trap of generalising the actions of a few, as being representative of all hunters.
|Black Professional Hunters
The Eagle Rock Hunting School and the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism developed a formal course to enable members of previously disadvantaged communities to acquire the theoretical and practical knowledge of guiding foreign hunters as fully qualified hunting guides. The costs of the course and the subsequent formal state examination are born in equal shares by the Namibian Professional Hunters Association and the employers.
The participants can choose between English, Afrikaans, German, Oshiwambo, Otjiherero and Damara/Nama for their theoretical and practical examinations.
The successful participants in the course can elevate their status of registered guide to Master Guide after two successful years and, ultimately, become fully qualified professional hunters.
Source: Volker Grellmann, 2001
|Traditional West African Hunters
Early in 2001 a festival of traditional West African hunters was organised in Mali to celebrate thousands of years of traditional African hunting culture. “Hunters' societies go back into the depths of time. They are the first form of democracy. They are open to everybody. Traditional hunting is about more than just killing animals. Hunters are healers, they are diviners, they have great knowledge of the bush, of the stars and even the planets around earth." said Tereba Togola, Director of Art and Culture in Mali. Cheick Cherif Keita, a Malian professor based in Minnesota, USA, stated the hunters' societies have always stressed equality and moral virtues, which are rapidly being eroded in modern West Africa. "Hunters have always been the protectors of society. Philanderers, cowards, ones who cannot put up with thirst and hunger cannot be hunters," Keita said.
Source: BBC (J. Baxter), 2001