Trophy Hunting The Purest & Most Original Form Of Ecotourism

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Yesterday evening (16.04.2014) at 19:00, our NAPHA President, Kai-Uwe Denker, presented a NEWS (Namibian Environment & Wildlife Society) Talk on the topic: Trophy Hunting: The purest and most original form of Ecotourism. The Talk was a great success stimulating some very interesting debate and exchange of views and ideas. Below the speech by Kai-Uwe Denker. News Talk, 16. April 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all I would like to thank the Namibian Environment and Wildlife Society for inviting NAPHA to give a presentation on trophy hunting.

We are very thankful for this.

However, we also are of the opinion that it is the responsibility of any association taking an interest in nature, in our environment and wildlife, to listen to the side of hunting as well.

Because hunting can play a very important role in protecting our environment and true, pure hunting always will ensure protection of wildlife.

In a superficial approach the non-hunting section of the conservation community often tries to blame hunting for the decrease in wildlife populations. Some forty years ago several institutions involved in nature conservation realized that a ban on hunting did not have the desired effect in protecting animals and their natural environment to the contrary.

A subsequent analysis by the WWF into the true reasons for the disappearance of species came up with the following five main reasons:

1. intensive agriculture
2. air- and water- pollution
3. roads and road traffic
4. urbanization and regulation of streams and rivers
5. destruction of natural habitats.

Regulated hunting could not be identified as having an averse effect. This is when the concept of sustainable use was introduced and installed as a major conservation tool. Namibia is a speaking example of the huge positive results of the concept of sustainable use of natural resources.

I think that all of you have at least some basic knowledge of the principle of sustainable utilization, all of you will be aware that the trophy hunting industry creates jobs, foreign currency is generated and all these things, which generally are brought up in support of hunting.

I therefor do not intend to tell you things you already know and would like to rather try to give some background on hunting as such and its motives, which often are misunderstood. I want to place emphasis on the honest feelings of a hunter, rather than to concentrate on the Association of Professional Hunters. There, however, is time after the presentation to answer any questions concerning NAPHA.

When first approached with this issue and I was told that we are asked, in the light of last years controversy around trophy hunting, to give our side of the story - , I was a little reluctant.

Because, we feel that we at times were not treated fair at all during last years public debate around the hunting of the Dorob lion and other issues.

Hunting nowadays is an activity, which is so far away from the mind of a large fraction of the population, that it often can no longer be seen in the context in which it belongs.

Although there is a global trend, a global concern to protect the natural environment, this movement is to a considerable extend based on superficial perceptions, because the majority of the human population on earth is detached from nature to such an extend, that many a false conclusion is made.

I had no idea as to how the audience of the Environment and Wildlife Society is composed; for some time I was indecisive as where I should start and where I would end, whether I even would have to face the polemic of radical anti hunters but I also admit that I am keen to address you here today, because I am absolutely convinced that

hunting is a very important aspect not only in nature conservation, but also in the self-examination of humankind.

Hunting is an age-old human activity, only hunting has enabled the survival of the human species, there is nothing strange or perverted about somebody being a hunter, as some people nowadays often want to have it.

According to scientists the key in the process of becoming human and the development of culture with our early ancestors took place, when homo Erectus, the first early human who walked exclusively upright, changed over from an exclusive plant diet to a mixed diet with a high proportion of meat. The greatest change during the transformation from animal to human took place in the central organ, the brain. The enlargement of the brain-volume resulted in an increase of the energy expenditure and the source of this energy was meat.

There are two important conclusions from this.

Firstly, the pronounced hunting instincts and hunting qualities of our ancestors laid the foundation to all human culture. And secondly with the development into humanity, with growing awareness, with growing consciousness came circumspection and compassion and the foundation was laid, to what we call ethical conduct.

We have to realize that such an important aspect of the human evolution is deeply embedded in the human instincts. However, we hunters also very clearly state that we feel that hunting should be conducted according to very strict legal regulations, ethical behavior and in circumspection.

NAPHA therefor has strict ethical guidelines and a Disciplinary Committee to enforce these.

However we have to stress that hunters are human beings like all of us, with their strength's and weaknesses like all of us. In all fields of human activity you have failures and misconduct and illegal behavior not only amongst hunters.

Why are hunters expected to have high ethical standards so much so that hunting as such immediately is questioned once some hunter is considered to have acted "unethical" - , while in other fields of human activity ethical behavior seems to be a voluntary attitude?

Let us for a moment return to the main reasons threatening wild animals with extinction.

The second and third amongst these most important factors are "pollution of air and water" and "roads and road traffic".

And I again have to stress that regulated trophy hunting could not be identified amongst these reasons.

I assume that most of us here have a car and use this car more or less extensively. Are we aware that cars and the subsequent pollution of air and the cutting apart of natural habitats by roads and the disturbance by road traffic is one of the major reasons contributing to the decline of wild animals and their living space, while regulated trophy hunting on the other hand contributes to their protection?

Are we prepared to be self-critical and treat each other fair?

Now every day there are manyfold transgressions of traffic law, rude behavior in traffic, irresponsible driving. Do we demand a ban of cars? We know that traffic is a grave threat to our environment, but it also is to our personal advantage. Hunting on the other side is contributing to the protection of wild animals and their habitats.

Yes, we know that hunters at times act against the law, behave rudely and irresponsible. After all they are human beings like all of us, with their strength's and weaknesses like all of us.

But if a doctor makes himself guilty of unethical or immoral behavior, a ban on the medical profession is not demanded. If a journalist is guilty of misconduct, the press

as a very important institution of democracy is not questioned.

Can we treat each other fair and accept that hunting as such has its rightful place in conservation?

It lies in the very nature of hunting that animals are killed.

Killing as such nowadays often is considered a wrong. I am not in a position and who is to decide whether killing as such is right or wrong.

Any experienced and hardened Namibian hunter will not deny that in the moment a kudu dies, when he realizes that he has lost his life, a big tear will dissolve from its eye and run down its face.

Is it okay to kill so marvelous an animal like a kudu?

This is not at all an easy matter, but I think that if you do not from time to time cleanse your soul, as a hunter you won't be able to argue and defend your case with real depth and in the end, nothing but the truth will stand the test of times.

Is it okay to kill an animal?

But also listen to this: From the early 1990's until the year 2011, I have organized big-game hunting safaris around Khaudum Park. The exceptional rains of the last decade with growing game numbers and abundant cover, have allowed the wild dog population in north-eastern Namibia to really recover. Repeatedly during the 2011 season, we saw a pack of over twenty wild dog in Nyae Nyae Conservancy, where I hunted then, amongst them eleven pups.

Magnificent, lean and swift animals, intelligent roaming hunters with an extraordinary social structure. But at the same time a merciless scourge to any game animal for miles around.

The rains moreover had transformed the usually dusty dry Nyae Nyae pan system into an excessive wetland, teeming with thousands upon thousands of ducks and other waterfowl. Whenever we passed there, dense flocks of red-billed teal rose from the shore, thereby obscuring the view at saddle-billed storks, flamingos and egrets in deeper water.

One morning however, when we came here at sunrise, there stood a kudu bull in knee-deep water, who apparently had been attacked by wild dog during the night and for the time being had escaped by fleeing into the water. The poor animal had been horribly mutilated by its attackers, the right flank ripped open, to expose a terrible wound.

Now that great animal, standing there with back arched in agony, horns laid back to stare into the distance, only the muscles of its cheeks moving almost unnoticeably, as he chewed saliva in pain and taking no notice of our approach, while all around the exuberant bird life went about in total disregard, was a truly heart stirring sight. So much so, that Louis Armstrong singing with his husky voice "good bye Papa, it's hard to die, when all the birds are singing in the sky" came to my mind.

We put that kudu out of its misery and for a short moment hatred for the wild dogs surged up inside me, although I always had liked and admired them like few other animals.

But soon the knowledge came back that nature, though at times cruel and merciless is and has to be like that, to function in its unspeakable beauty and grandeur, that the very principle of life is built on the interaction of hunter and hunted, that life cannot continue without death and rejuvenation through new birth and renewed death.

We have to accept that death is a totally normal thing in nature.

All rejuvenation on earth rests on the principle of birth and growth and death.

And the majority of deaths in nature are brought about by physical killing.

Right now, after the heavy rains in Namibia, we have a phase of growth and rejuvenation.

Just have a close look at the luxuriant growth of plant life under favorable conditions on good, well-watered soil do we really think that these are peaceful conditions? Not at all.

Every plant, every insect, every bird is in severe competition for a place in the sun, for the right to live, to feed, to mate, to propagate, to reproduce.

That is the very principle of life. That is the very principle of nature.

After thunderstorms swifts shoot through the air at terrific speed with excited screams to capture and kill insects, ducks and other water-fowl frolic in rivers and pans to kill amongst the overabundance of tadpoles, yellow-billed kites gather in hundreds to hunt swarming termites, and jackals, cheetahs and leopards take their toll on newly-born springbok fawns, while the swifts and the ducks and even the jackals in turn are chased by falcons, eagles and leopards.

Birth and death is everywhere and life as such is in exuberant spirits.

And if we lean back for a moment and let the scenario as such have its effect on us, the huge, gathering thunderheads, the unleashed thunderstorms slowly moving across the sweeping immensity of our vast open landscapes, the exuberant growth of plant-life in a frantic fight for a place in the sun, and the interactions of the animals, of hundreds of circling kites amidst myriad of swarming termites, the migrating herds of springbok in Damaraland, we will realize that all this is of breathtaking beauty, that nature functions in marvelous harmony.

Is killing as such a wrong?

For sure it is part of nature.

Do we want nature? May we even dare to think that humanity can detach itself from nature?

And if we come to the conclusion that we want and need nature, which role has mankind in nature?

I have mentioned the kudu and have raised the question: Is it right to kill so marvelous an animal?

Almost everybody in Namibia by now is aware of the epidemic of rabies amongst Namibia's kudu population. That is a cruel, horrible disease; it has killed thousands and thousands of kudus in the last 30 years. What is the reason for this disease?

Very simple; overpopulation of kudu due to human interference in the natural settings.

We have removed the natural enemies of the kudu, the lions, the wild dogs in most of Namibia and I have to stress, not hunters have removed them, but man as such has destroyed them, as they are in conflict with cattle breeding - and at the same time we have created artificial water points in an arid country. These two reasons have disrupted the natural balance and have resulted in an explosion of the kudu population.

Now there is a very basic law in nature: If one of the mortality factors which keep the natural balance intact, is removed, it will be replaced by another.

If you remove natural predators and drought-mortality-factors, they will be replaced by disease, if you succeed in combating one disease, it will be replaced by another disease. That is fundamental law of nature.

Yes, it is cruel to see a kudu die of rabies. That disease must be even crueler to the kudu than being ripped apart by wild dogs or being killed by a lion or not?

What is right and what is wrong in nature? Do we want nature, do we need it? Is man part of nature? Do we speak of nature conservation or should we rather do away with nature?

What has mankind achieved in its pronounced interference with nature? Are we not perhaps on our way to destroy our own life-foundation?

These are difficult questions and I want to leave it there.
We hunters feel that man is part of nature.

It is cruel to see a kudu die from rabies. It might be better if the natural balance would still be intact and that wild dogs would keep kudu numbers at natural levels although it is cruel how these dogs kill their prey. What is crueler the disease or the dogs?

And if the natural law of replacing mortality-factors cannot be evaded, do we really want to say that there is anything wrong if a hunter kills a kudu with a clean shot?

Here now comes something, which at first may sound paradoxical: Any true hunter is a nature lover.

Someone, who is not a hunter, might now ask: "Why would you want to hunt animals if you love and respect them?"

The answer is easy: Hunting is a completely normal thing in nature. A lion hunts, a wild dog hunts, an eagle hunts. Is that strange?

You might say they hunt to get food.

So do we.

Man, for most of his evolution, was a hunter to survive and in fact when man was still largely a hunter-gatherer he did not destroy his environment as he does nowadays.

Hunting is nothing but an original way of life, and there is nothing wrong to enjoy hunting. Please note: A hunter does not enjoy the act of killing. He has to kill to have hunted. There is a deep satisfaction in taking prey, in securing food, but the act of killing is not the source of this satisfaction.

Still a human being is not a wild dog. It is inherent to the human nature to consider his doings and to try to act "humanely" and this is why we hunters are convinced that hunting should be conducted in a "fair chase" and according to strict rules and regulations.

I have now repeatedly mentioned trophy hunting.

Many people admit that there is nothing wrong with hunting as such but they refuse to accept trophy hunting.

Perhaps the one or other of you now and then stroll through the bushveld and it may have happened that you came onto the weathered skull of an old kudu bull. Maybe you will have looked at it and realized the beauty of those horns. Maybe you entertained the idea of taking it home to hang over your garage door for reasons of its decorative beauty and to remind you of the hours you spend out there in the bushveld, to remind you of its atmosphere of tangled bushes, of umbrella thorn trees, the call of the red-billed hornbill at midday and of the moment when once a big old kudu bull stepped into a clearance in that peculiar, slow rocking gait of a kudu bull, carrying his head low and those magnificent horns swinging back beyond his shoulders, the long beard on his throat blown by a slight breeze, to pause for a moment and scent the air - a picture of boundless harmony and beauty.

An ethical hunter also enjoys these moments above all. He is not out to shoot the first and each animal he sees. To him the challenge is to find one special, clever old kudu bull.

He tries to do justice to this shy and elusive animal, he will sit down and admire the wild surroundings into which the kudu fits so well - the tangled bushveld with its play of light and shadow, the rugged mountain ranges with its chaos of huge boulders, of sticks and stones, of gnarled commiphora trees into which the kudu can disappear like a ghost.

He will stalk humbly and silently through these great surroundings and wait for the moment when a kudu bull makes his appearance. He has to make do with the fact that at times he won't be able to find a suitable trophy bull, to just feel his presence, find his spoor and see a grey shadow and a glinting pair of horns disappear amongst the dusty thornbush.

And if you really have hunted, have respected an animal, if you have been part of nature and hunted, when you stand next to a beautiful kudu bull you have just slain, emotions will be released from your innermost, which tell you: Yes, it is okay to hunt. Life and death and hunting are part of nature.

And perhaps you will want to hang the trophy of this marvelous animal on your wall for reasons of its decorative beauty and to remind you of the hours you spend out there in the bushveld.

Is that wrong? Why can anybody hang the picture of a naked women on his wall if this is to his taste, but hunters are considered perverted if they hang the horns of a kudu on their wall?

Yet even a passionate hunter sometimes every now and again, especially in growing older reaches the point where he is tired of hunting. Where his thoughts wander towards a peaceful existence without violence. But the complications within the dynamic interactions in nature are endless. It is just an unrealistic fantasy. Heavenly circumstances in the long run are contrary to the growth of life.

Let me briefly attend to two issues, which recently have caused quite some uproar, the Dorob lion and the Hochfeld elephant.

The Dorob lion was hunted according to all legal and ethical requirements within the context of sustainable utilization, yet there was a huge uproar by anti-hunters, while the indiscriminate killing of more than a dozen lion in the same vicinity because of conflict with cattle-breeders was simply shrugged off. Are we treating each other fair and rational, or is it an ideological campaign that we lead?

By the way, let us not forget, that a lion also is a hunter and kills animals. And perhaps it has to be pointed out that a lion is not an emotionless machine that reluctantly and grudgingly secures his daily meat requirements. No watch a lion and you will realize that the spine chilling excitement of the hunt, is an driving force behind his very essence, stronger than biting hunger. That is what differentiates a lions being from that of a vulture or a zebra. Is either of them wrong?

A large proportion of the human population on earth has completely lost all comprehension of natural connotations, yet feels a great urge to protect the last fractions of unspoiled nature.

Regulated Trophy hunting via the principle of sustainable use can play a hugely important role in this. And tourist-hunting is a way of learning the very basics of nature in it's purest form. It is the purest form of eco-tourism.

In our materialistic world, we tend to think that money is the one and only justification for all and everything. Of course we all know that financial benefits are a very important incentive in any successful undertaking of mankind.

But these are not the motives for any true hunter.

Hunting is an ancient human activity. As such it means experiencing an original way of life in unspoiled nature. I have to stress: Hunting can be the purest form of eco-tourism.

And yes, of course we enjoy hunting.

Of course we enjoy the thrill of a stalk. Yes, of course we enjoy the adrenalin rush when facing a wild, un-collared lion. There is nothing wrong with that, these are inherent components of our own nature. Many people seem to have forgotten that man can and should be part of nature. And above all, the laws of hunter and hunted are the very foundation on which nature rests.

If we still want nature and that is the principle decision mankind has to take we have to understand and accept it as it is; and true, honest hunting is the very school of life.

Nobody expects a photo-tourist to exchange his camera for a rifle. But we hunters also deserve some basic respect. We have heard many insulting accusations during the recent debates.

Perhaps some anti-hunters instinctively and unknowingly admire in wild fire in the eyes of a lion, before it was man-handled and collared. Now that same fire is still alive in a hunters heart.

But we don't enjoy killing. We have to kill to have hunted. And when at times we have to kill, we try to do so clean and quick and painless.
At the same time death is part of life it is not always easy to accept this, and this is the very difficult part of hunting.

It would be far easier to close our eyes to the harsh realities of nature as many people do.

I think that the really unethical things in hunting are mainly stimulated by the money involved. Money often brings out bad things in humans not only in hunters - and perhaps little can be done about it, except to try and overshadow the bad with the good. But please remember that hunters are human beings with their strengths and weaknesses like all of us.

I think we all know the saying that circumspect, selective hunting is conservation. And surely this is true.

Once again, let us remember that one of the major reasons for the disappearance of species is intensive agriculture not regulated trophy hunting. This applies mainly to industrialized countries where intensive agriculture and the use of pesticides and fertilizers destroy important links in the natural food chain and result in large-scale extinctions of species.

But it also applies to big game in Namibia.

The living space for lions and elephants was largely destroyed by agricultural needs.

In Namibia there is an elephant overpopulation in all the northern parks. Sustainable trophy hunting plays an important role in protecting elephant habitat on communal lands adjoining these parks. There our members enjoy true original elephant hunting. Searching for an old bull past his prime within the wild beauty of natural elephant habitat. To us there is no appeal in destroying a young problem elephant near Hochfeld, whose habitat was taken up by agriculture.

But if it is necessary to destroy such an elephant, money for the Game Products Trust fund could be generated by removing such a problem animal through a trophy hunter, who perhaps can not afford the high cost of a trophy elephant safari and thus is prepared, to at least experience the thrill of approaching and facing an elephant under problem animal circumstances.

The huge translocation costs to bring an elephant back into its already overpopulated northern range, however, would have been a total waste of money that is urgently needed for rhino protection in Namibia.

I think that we should at least be rational to some extent.

I am not a dreamer to think that we can turn back the tide. Cars, although a danger to our environment, are a reality of modern life. Any country needs agricultural space to feed its people. But humanity also has the responsibility to protect natural habitats.
And sustainable, regulated trophy hunting is an important tool in this, whether we like this original activity or not.

As a hunter I am of the opinion that we need nature and should know and respect its laws and that man also is part of nature, that a hunter is nothing else than a creature, which enjoys an original way of life in nature.

Nature's forces at times have a humbling effect on us as humans. There is a frightening force in lightning especially when experienced in the confinement of mountainous country. Just think about uncontrollable fires in Australia, of hurricanes over the Pacific or even a Tsunami. Yet life has sprung from the torrents of water. It carries the same force and drive within itself. It seeks constant growth and rejuvenation. It has no time to overly indulge in selfish contemplation. Its drive sweeps away all that is in the way of growth and rejuvenation.

It may be a valid question what all this fuzz about hunting ethics is good, when people who strongly oppose hunting at the same time are indifferent towards the treatment of tame animals, which are raised and kept and killed only for human consumption. Animals that are kept in hundreds in small confinements, castrated, brandmarked, loaded onto trucks and slaughtered.

But in the end this is why I think that hunting ethics are a yardstick of human quality. We don't own wild animals, they are free creatures living a natural life but in constant alertness as is prescribed by the laws of the hunter and the hunted. These laws, the contradicting standards of "good" and "bad" after all are responsible for the awakening of the spirit.

In the end all this may not matter, because it may all be a case of destiny, it is well possible that humanity is on its way to destruction in nature's everlasting cycle of life and death.

Hunting was the very activity, which initiated the spark for humanity to rise above the animal.

It is for humanity to decide whether we need and have to protect nature or whether we may dare to try and detach ourselves from nature's laws to head for new horizons.

In my opinion nature's forces and life as such is one of the extraordinarily powerful forces of nature are much

superior to anything that is within the scope of the human mind.

The very principle of life is constant rejuvenation.

We cannot detach ourselves from nature. We need constant awareness of the primary laws of nature. And hunting is the age-old school of life that provides that insight. The Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset has called the hunter "den wachen Mensch" the "awake" human, the "alert" human.

I am convinced that sensitive, conscientious hunting is the most evolved way of life possible in harmony with nature.

A human close to nature, who knows nature's laws and yet is capable of deep sentimentality, is an unique development in nature presumably the ultimate one. The next stage, the renunciation of hunting already leads into the direction of slow decline and at times it appears that humanity is well on its way to not only destroy itself but our planet as a whole.

Ethical hunting, these moral standards of humanity kindled through awareness and compassion in dealing with nature and wild animals, while still accepting nature's laws is of immense value to humanity. This knowledge keeps the qualities of rejuvenation alive within humanity, as opposed to the very likely self-destruction of humanity by the selfish disregard of the everlasting laws of life.

We hunters want and need nature.

The principle of sustainable use ensures large-scale nature conservation outside of National Parks and that is what every nature lover should support free of irrational ideological agendas.

Thank you for listening.

Source: Namibia Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA)


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Having read every word I must say this was some speech he has given. Very well done and thought out.


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Very well done !


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Kai-Uwe Denker, Nice shift and breath of fresh air to the discussion. Thanks.

Wonder what will go on at the next meeting of the Wildlife Society.

One day I hope to see those Nyae Nyae pans.


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That really was a great read. That is the kind of speech that will make those on the fence really think about their position and that is what is needed.


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In a word,,Outstanding


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In a word,,Outstanding

in 2 words very outstanding

gotta love copy and paste this ones on the way to many people ,to read , understand , and hope fully lean over to the right side of the fence

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