The Hunter & Society's Conservation Ethos

Ron Thomson

AH member
Jun 27, 2009
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The Hunter and Society's 'Conservation' Ethos
by Ron Thomson


Picture by Induna Safaris

Over the last 30 years I have become progressively more concerned at the ever-growing animal rights challenge to common sense and science-based wildlife management practices in our national parks, and to the sustainable use of wildlife outside this estate, throughout southern Africa.

I have watched and listened to hunters and game ranchers flying off the handle at public remarks made by bold, charismatic and fanatical animal rights activists. The rhetoric has, at times, been phlegmatic and some of the suggestions as to how we can rid society of this cancerous ideology have been imaginative - but nothing of consequence has eventuated and the animal rightists have become ever stronger.

I now believe that nothing is ever going to change, and that the animal rights philosophy will eventually completely take over the hearts-and-minds of society in southern Africa, IF WE DON'T GO INTO BATTLE AGAINST THIS INEXORABLE ENEMY AS A UNITED FORCE. To beat them at their own game, we need to place a formidable team on the open public playing field on which we have allowed these nefarious people to operate, without opposition, for far too long. My solution is that we (ultimately supported by society-at-large) should create and support an energetic and unfettered NGO which has objectives to which every honest, responsible and clear-thinking person can subscribe. The following is my vision for such an NGO - as expressed in my ideas for its manifesto.

This proposal is being sent, independently, to SA Hunters; C.H.A.S.A.; P.H.A.S.A.; and the Game Ranchers Association, inviting them to identify with this ideal and to form the nucleus of support for such an NGO's creation.
Ron Thomson


A Non-Government & Non-Profit Organisation.
THE MISSION: to promote 'caring for the earth and sustainable living practices' throughout the societies and the governments of southern Africa - with particular emphasis on the sustainable use of our living resources, and fostering the correct social and official attitudes towards wildlife management.

The cornerstones of the TRUE GREEN organisation's philosophy are contained within the provisions of the 'World Conservation Strategy - 1980' (WCS), revised 1991 and renamed: 'Caring for the Earth, A Strategy for Sustainable Living'. This protocol is the official Mission Statement, and reflects the principle policy, of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). After the promulgation of the WCS, all those responsible sovereign states of the world, who were members of the IUCN at that time, obligated themselves to model their National Conservation Strategies (NCSs) on the WCS template. South Africa was one of them. Thus did the WCS obtain its legal teeth.

The WCS proposes and promotes, inter alia, an integrated approach to development and sustainable natural resource management. The three principle objectives of what the WCS describes as 'living resource conservation' (sic) are:
1. To maintain essential ecological processes and life support systems (such as soil regeneration and protection, the recycling of nutrients, and the cleansing of waters), on which human survival and development depend;

2. To preserve genetic diversity (the range of genetic material found in the world's organisms), on which depend the functioning of many of the above processes and life-support systems, the breeding programmes necessary for the protection and improvement of cultivated plants, domesticated animals and microorganisms, as well as much scientific and medical advances, technical innovation, and the security of the many industries that use living resources; and

3. To ensure the sustainable utilisation of species and ecosystems (notably fish and other wildlife, forests and grazing lands), which support millions of rural communities as well as major industries.
TRUE GREEN recognises the importance to mankind of our societies embracing, and of our governments achieving, all three of these objectives. It shall be TRUE GREEN's purpose, therefore, to promote and to support the attainment of these objectives in everything that we undertake; and to oppose, and to expose, any and all activities that might render them unattainable.

We believe the WCS represents a blue-print for the survival of both mankind AND nature on planet earth and that our publics-at-large, and our governments, should be encouraged to embrace this opinion, too.
Although the WCS was revised in 1991, none of its basic principles were changed. Because, however, the descriptions of the WCS principles are, in our opinion, better articulated in the original document (they fit our purpose better) and because South Africa's NCS was constructed on the 1980 document (NOT on the 1991 revised document), we have elected to use the wording of the original protocol in our manifesto.


TRUE GREEN recognises the legitimacy of, and supports, those 'true' elements of what is euphemistically called 'The Green Movement'. These include TRUE environmentalism and TRUE animal welfare-ism. There is a third component of the world-wide green movement, however - animal rights-ism - the ideology of which we believe has no place in any civilised and responsible society.

We categorise and identify the three elements of The Green Movement as follows.
1. TRUE Environmentalism is a doctrine that involves itself with making sure that the environment in which we all live, remains in a liveable and healthy condition. The TRUE environmentalist believes in, and supports, all three objectives of the WCS's 'living resource conservation' ethic. True environmentalism, therefore, works for both the benefit of mankind and in the best interests of all other living resources (plants and animals) on planet earth. We believe that every person on this globe, therefore, should be a TRUE environmentalist because to be anything else is suicidal.

2. TRUE Animal welfare-ists also believe in, and they support, all three objectives of the WCS's 'living resource conservation' ethic - with provisos. They insist that when man 'uses' a LIVE animal for his own benefit (such as when he uses an ox to plough a field; or a donkey to pull a cart), the animals must be treated humanely; and that when man kills an animal to obtain benefits (such as when he slaughters a beast to obtain meat to eat), such killing must be conducted without cruelty. TRUE animal welfare organisations, therefore, oversee man's civilised standards in his treatment of the animals that he 'uses' and, because of this, they deserve society's support.

3. Animal Rights Organisations reject the WCS entirely. They are particularly opposed to the third principle of the WCS's 'living resource conservation' ethic - and, because of this, they are easily identifiable and easily separable from True environmentalism and TRUE animal welfare-ism. Animal rightists are fanatical in their belief that man has no right what-so-ever to 'use' an animal - any animal - for his own benefit, in any way. They believe that animals - both domesticated and wild - have the same 'right to life' as have human beings. And they insist that man should eat nothing but vegetable foods.

Animal rightists cannot achieve their objectives without violating the legitimate rights of other people.

We identify animal rights-ism as the biggest obstacle to the attainment of WCS & NCS goals everywhere; and we understand, unequivocally, that the healthy status of wild animal populations, wild habitats, and biological diversity, is adversely affected whenever and wherever the animal rightists have been able to successfully interfere in wildlife management principles and practices. TRUE GREEN, therefore, will concentrate a great deal on reversing the successful inroads that the propaganda of the animal rights movement has had on the thinking and on the practices of our governments and civil services, and on the hearts and minds of society - particularly urban society.

In the practice of their ideology, animal rightists reject the fact that man is an integral part of the animal kingdom and that he exists, as do all other animals, within the scope of the natural trophic rules and processes that make food-chains and food-webs function. They also reject the idea that man can - AND SHOULD - live within these natural systems and in symbiosis with nature, thereby using the earth's living resources in a sustainable manner.

Everything the animal rightists do, therefore, undermines mankind's efforts to achieve WCS objectives; and it negates the actions that every sovereign state undertakes to achieve the objectives of its NCS. The animal rights ideology is not only financially, socially and governmentally destructive, therefore, it is suicidal for mankind and it misdirects human energies. It is also wasteful of our natural resources and of tax-payer monies.

The animal rightists are fundamentally and diametrically opposed to what the animal welfare organisations are striving to achieve. They say that the animal welfare doctrine is the biggest stumbling block to the attainment of animal rights objectives; and they very clearly, and very forcibly, identify their differences. The animal welfare ideology, the animal rightists say, is aimed at 'regulating' man's 'use' of animals - whilst the animal rightists are intent upon 'abolishing' man's use of animals (in every dimension).

Regrettably, because the unscrupulous use of (animal-centred) 'emotion' is a major component of their fund-raising efforts within the world's huge but unversed (in things natural) urban societies, the animal rightists are able to solicit more funds from the public than are their 'counterparts' in the Green Movement. Consequently, a lot of grey areas are beginning to appear in the environmental and animal welfare ranks - because many environmental and animal welfare organisations are now adopting 'select' animal rights objectives as their own (in order to make more money). The animal rights philosophy, therefore, is erosive of these desirable social norms and values.

As the animal rights propaganda has been (and continues to be) spread and absorbed into susceptible elements of our urban societies, so has there occurred a mental corruption in, and decomposition of, society's wildlife management obligations and values. Accredited Animal Rights NGOs at CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora) have also corrupted the principles and practices of that important international organisation.

Certain wildlife management professors in South Africa's academic institutions are known to have accepted huge sponsorships from major and well-heeled international animal rights organisations - up to R 1 million a year. But just how many are involved in this sponsorship scenario we do not yet know. One such academic now publicly disseminates what amounts to animal rights propaganda. We also understand that the Chief Executive Officer of at least one major public animal-welfare organisation has received large sponsorships from an overseas-based international animal rights organisation, too. So the international animal rights organisations have been, by subtle means, 'buying' their way into the hearts and minds of southern African societies. We do not yet know the extent of this state of affairs or of the damage it has already done.

There is no doubt, with the bait of large sums of money being the key, southern Africa has been infiltrated, and our society continues to be penetrated, by what amounts to an international animal rights mafia - whose purpose is not to help animals but to, ultimately, make a lot of money out of a gullible public.

It shall be one of the purposes of TRUE GREEN to investigate all these matters thoroughly, to combat this erosion of our beliefs and lifestyles, and to reverse whatever support the animal rightists currently enjoy in our societies, and within government and civil service ranks, too. We intend that with this task, as in others, we shall pursue our objectives, determinedly, methodically, within the scope of legal means, and according to the mandates of our policies.


(1). TRUE GREEN believes that the concept of 'endangered species' is invalid - that is has no real basis in science - and that the promotion of this ideal has caused great confusion in the minds of society-at-large. Species organise themselves at the population level and different populations enjoy varying degrees of ecological safety. Populations that are in decline (UNSAFE), therefore, require the application of 'preservation management' practices (protection from harm) whereas those populations (of the same species) that are stable, increasing, or excessive (all SAFE) should be managed according to the principles of 'conservation management' (wise and sustainable use). We accept and will promote, therefore, the concept that wildlife management is comprised of two functions - conservation and preservation - and that this understanding should become our foundation for establishing a common, acceptable and understandable wildlife management vocabulary within society: and that it should be the cornerstone of our wildlife management ethic.

(2). TRUE GREEN regards honest science as the framework necessary to understand the natural world and it supports the use of science to develop rational and effective methods of wildlife and habitat management, and specifically of wild animal population management, as one of the pillars of the southern African model of wildlife management.

(3). TRUE GREEN recognises the intrinsic value of wildlife, the importance of wildlife to humanity, and it views wildlife and people as interrelated components of a single ecological-cultural-economic complex.

(4). TRUE GREEN supports regulated hunting, trapping and fishing, and recognises the right of people to pursue either the consumptive or non-consumptive use of wildlife, as they, individually, see fit.

(5). TRUE GREEN is concerned that foundational elements of the animal rights ideology contradict the principles that have led to the recognised successes of wildlife management in southern Africa.

(6).TRUE GREEN believes that both the selective and broad application of elements of the animal rights philosophy to contemporary issues of wildlife management, promotes false choices regarding potential human-wildlife relationships and false expectations for wild animal population management; and that this erodes society's confidence in the decades of knowledge gained through scientific exploration of wild animals and their habitats.

(7). TRUE GREEN, with regard to the animal rights ideology, recognises that a range of individual philosophies exists within the realm of "animal rights" but that most adherents of such philosophies hold similar foundational beliefs, including:-
(a). Each individual animal should be afforded the same basic rights as humans;
(b). Every animal should live free from human-induced pain and suffering;
(c). Animals should not be exploited for any human purposes whatsoever; and
(d). Every individual animal has equal status regardless of commonality or rarity, or whether or not the species is native, exotic, invasive, or feral.

(8). TRUE GREEN adopts the philosophy that animal welfare - with specific reference to wildlife management - focuses on the quality of life for populations or species of animals. It does not preclude management of animal populations or use of animals for food, or other cultural uses, as long as loss of animal life is justified, sustainable, and achieved through the most humane methods possible.

(9). TRUE GREEN recognises that the philosophy expounded in (8) above contrasts with the animal rights view which holds that it is wrong to take a sentient animal's life, or to cause it to suffer for virtually any reason, even to 'conserve' species or ecosystems, or to promote human welfare and safety. The animal rightists, however, have not come to consensus with regards which species are sentient enough to qualify for these considered protections.

(10). TRUE GREEN understands that the animal rights philosophy believes animals should be given the same moral considerations and legal protection as humans.

(11). TRUE GREEN points out that the animal rightists have focused emphasis on individual animals whilst failing to recognise the inter-relatedness of wildlife communities within functioning ecosystems, and that they hold that protecting individual animals is more important than conserving populations, species and ecosystems. For example, wildlife managers may value the protection of an individual animal of a so-called 'endangered species' more important than the existence of an individual of a common species, but animal rightists advocate that these individuals are equally valuable and deserving of equal protection.

(12). TRUE GREEN observes that, with regard to the animal rightists demands that human kind should become entirely vegetarian in its diet, they are silent with regard to the massive land use alterations that would be necessary to feed human populations in the absence of the consumptive use of animals; and in the dramatic and continual loss of wildlife that would entail as habitats are converted to, and maintained in, intensive agriculture.

(13). TRUE GREEN notes that the animal rights viewpoint has no room for the use of animals in scientific and medical research, whether designed to benefit humans or animals; nor that curtailment of these uses will inhibit wildlife science and 'conservation', and a vast range of human endeavours and progress.

(14). TRUE GREEN recognises that the conflict between the tenets of the animal rights philosophy, and those of the wildlife management philosophy, is profound. Established principles and techniques of wildlife population management, both lethal practices (such as population reduction, culling, regulated hunting and trapping) and non-lethal techniques (such as capture-and-translocation, aversive conditioning or capture-and-marking for research purposes) are dismissed in the animal rights viewpoint.

(15). TRUE GREEN understands, accepts and respects the legal provisions surrounding the concept of res nullius and the consequent assumption of wildlife ownership by the state to effect regular and legal private ownership and private management; and that this is the foundation of the laws protecting wildlife in southern Africa. This means, outside private ownership, all wild animals are considered to be a public resource held in trust by government for the benefit of all its citizens. The animal rights philosophy advocates opposition to the concept of private ownership of wildlife, and/or as a property that is held as a public trust resource, and it further advocates affording legal rights to all animals. Taken literally, under the animal rights legal framework, there would be no existing legal basis for any kind of wildlife management and, if the above concept of wildlife management administration is voided, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for wildlife professionals to protect 'unsafe' animal populations or to control overabundant (safe), invasive, exotic, or ecologically detrimental animal populations; to control the spread of disease between wildlife and domestic stock (both ways); and/or to protect human health and safety.

(16).The policy of TRUE GREEN regarding the animal rights ideology and related wildlife management principles and practices, is that:
(a). We recognise, and shall broadly disseminate, the fact that the philosophy
of animal rights is incompatible with science-based wildlife management;

(b). We shall educate organizations and individuals about the need for the scientific management of wildlife and habitats, the wisdom of sustainable utilisation of living resources (both domesticated and wild), and about the practical problems relative to the management of wildlife and habitats, and to human society, in the face of the animal rights philosophy; and

(c). We differentiate between animal rights and animal welfare, and support the TRUE animal welfare philosophy which holds that animals can be studied and managed through science-based methods and that human use of wildlife - including regulated hunting, trapping, and the lethal control of animals in the interests of maintaining biological diversity, for the benefit of habitats and wild animals, and in the interests of human society - is totally acceptable provided the practice is sustainable and provided the individual animals are treated ethically and as humanely as possible. In all these regards TRUE GREEN will support, and will promote, the application of "preservation management" to UNSAFE wild animal populations; and the application of "conservation management" to SAFE wild animal populations. We support, also, both lethal and non-lethal means (whichever is deemed the most appropriate) for the protection of domestic stock from wild predators on agricultural land.

It is TRUE GREEN's intention to get all shareholders in our collective animal-use industries to buy into our concept of having one single organisation (TRUE GREEN) representing everybody of a like-mind in the country; to support our efforts to educate the public and government; and to allow us to fight whatever battles have to be fought with the animal rightists, for one and all. In this regard we intend to spread our net far and wide to include such groups as: domestic stock farmer associations, game ranch-owner associations, hunter organisations, outdoor-sports business associations; commercial fisheries and angling associations; furriers; taxidermists: public wildlife associations; private game reserve owners; SANParks; parliament; the ruling party and opposition parties in government, provincial nature conservation departments, supermarkets (that sell animal and poultry products for human consumption), commercial financial institutions, and many, many more.

It will be TRUE GREEN's objective to learn all there is to know about every facet of those animal-use industries that identify with us; and to establish liaisons with them so that when TRUE GREEN has to deal with a problem they will know what to do, who to ask for information, and what to say. TRUE GREEN will issue media releases (about animal rights-ism) for everybody, on the basis of a standard format and with sound rationale. Specialists within the different animal-use industries may also be co-opted by TRUE GREEN, but it should be our joint purpose (when confronting the animal rightists) for everybody to publicly function through the TRUE GREEN organisation. This will have huge benefits because it shall be an objective of TRUE GREEN to establish a rapport with the media, with government, with the relevant nature conservation officers in the civil service, and with the general public. This will have the beneficial effect - when a particular battle is being waged - that anybody and everybody of importance in the country will know that the matter is being handled by a unified, powerful, influential and both politically and socially acceptable organisation.

TRUE GREEN policies will be determined and compiled by a steering committee (or board of Directors {?}) comprised of individuals from the various animal user-groups throughout the country; and it will operate autonomously within the parameters prescribed by these predefined policies.

It is envisaged that TRUE GREEN shall be a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) and Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) with a permanent establishment of career officers and employees. Although it will operate as an independent entity, it shall remain in close contact and in full cooperation, at all times, with its members.

It is TRUE GREEN's vision to guide southern African society back towards a responsible understanding and acceptance of what is right and what is wrong when controversial wildlife management, or other animal-use 'issues', irrupt. We believe that ONE organisation representing all animal-use industries, will speak with a much more powerful and much more acceptable public voice, than can individuals, or small groups of people, who are bonded together ONLY by reason of their personal and/or vested interests.

It will be necessary to create a figurative 'Goliath' to fight, on everybody's behalf, the mass of fanatical animal rights activists that we will have to face. It should be remembered that any individual, or any small group of people, who takes on 'the animal rights movement' will be tackling opponents that, individually and collectively, command annual incomes that range into hundreds of millions of US dollars. To even start this battle on any kind of equal ground, therefore, is going to be difficult enough. To win each battle is going to be a gargantuan task. Success will only come with the help of public understanding and support.

In this regard, it shall be TRUE GREEN's purpose NOT to 'engage in disputes' with the animal rightists - because none of them will EVER be convinced by 'reason'. They know it would be their death knell if they did! It shall be our purpose instead, to convince society of the virtues of, and justification for, what WE believe in with regards to any controversy; to explain the incompatibilities of the animal rights philosophy with that issue; and to generally, constantly and consistently, inculcate in society's mind the gross iniquities of the animal rights ideology.

There is also a problem in southern Africa insofar as local nature conservation officials, small and large stock farmers, game ranch owners, fishermen and hunters often do not always see eye to eye. TRUE GREEN will gear itself to handle such situations of conflict.

There have also been, from time to time, problems at airports when international hunters have been unable to recover their firearms from airport security in time to conduct their hunts. TRUE GREEN will be gear itself to promote greater government efficiencies in such conflict situations.

TRUE GREEN will also handle all matters involving corruption by government officials - and others - within the field of its expertise; and within the mandates extended to it through its approved policies.
All this CAN be done. With determination and with passion, it CAN be done! Our biggest ally is the fact that we will be going to war with common sense, with reason and with 'right' on our side. And the World Conservation Strategy, and our National Conservation Strategy, will be our foundation.

Acknowledgement. The author wishes to acknowledge his gleaning of information from a statement - on the animal rights ideology - made by the Wildlife Society (TWS) of North America in August 2011.

Ron Thomson
Ron Thomson Hunting Books - South Africa
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