A day hardly passes when someone tells me that “hunting is the biggest contributor to conservation” and I must now support it because it pays for anti poaching and habitat expansion. And in a large way it does, however nobody really questions the way in which it does. We just take it as scripture and move on. Now before I carry on I would like to say that this is not an article downplaying hunting’s role in conservation I admire that they are the largest financial contributors to conservation out of all forms of land use, this is article is aimed at the rest of society and how we are allowing constant degradation of the countries landscapes all for the pursuit of money, With the premise that we are all doing it “for the greater good”. I would like to ask, why are there exceptions being made in conservation? Why can we not conserve nature for it ecological value and not its economical value? And I turn to the origins of conservation and see that it is the same story. The Kruger Park was an area proclaimed by government as a hunting concession and then turned into an area to be conserved for indigenous fauna and flora, ”YAY!!! Well done Government” however this area was never due to be inhabited by man and was specifically chosen because of its low potential to be farmed. And so the story continues today. The main reason hunting is conserving wildlife is so that it can be shot by some foreign white chap with his shoulder mounted cannon (here’s another question for thought, how come when a big white American or European comes to shoot an animal its hunting and “all in aid in conservation” but when a black chap who’s on the bones of his arse and trying to feed his family kills something its deemed to be poaching and he must be shot?) And so I come to my main concern. The Game industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the country. They have put wildlife on the market for huge sums of money and are getting people to pay these exorbitant fee’s so uncle Bob from Dallas can come over and be guaranteed a record buffalo and he will then pay the farm more millions for his chance at the record books. And all this money is going to conservation and not the farmer’s helicopter or land cruisers and holiday homes, apparently. So now we have industrialized this practice and farmers have become businessmen where good practice is measured by your accountant and not by the ecological contribution of your farm. And if you put your businessman pants on you can see what they are on about. Why would you keep a plain normal impala worth R1000 (if that) who will consume the same amount of biomass as a Black Impala worth R200 000. These genetic mutations are worth several hundred times more than their natural counterparts. Now apart from the biodiversity infringements of this practice, which is constantly overlooked, we are supporting an industry that stud breeds exotic animals. These are no longer game farms or ranches, but big pet stalls where anyone can choose their animal put a bullet in it and have it stuffed for his sitting room (imagine we were exposed to such a pet shop in a city we would be out raged). And that’s not where these biodiversity pirates stop. Predator’s, jackal, caracal and the handful of leopard left (about 5 000 leopard left and 20 000 rhino left, just another thought) these are the last remaining animals to control prey numbers in most cases. They are being shot out constantly because of their conflict with livestock farmers at an alarming rate “give us an example!’’ I hear you say; well the Western Cape has the strictest laws on problem animal control in this country, they are the only government which sets a bag limit for the amount of predators that may be shot, a permit is issued to a farmer and he is then allowed to shoot 5 jackal and 5 caracal everyday for 6 months (if this isn’t sounding a bit ridiculous to you yet, allow me to put the cherry on this ugly cake) the government then felt it necessary to issue 490 of these permits. Which if you do the math works out to just under 900 000 animals which were earmarked for destruction, and this is the strictest laws in the country. As for leopards, I’m not entirely sure of the process but I know if a leopard takes one of your sheep or cows or whatever you are then allowed to shoot the leopard on sight as long as you can prove that your animal was taken by a leopard, this is just in case the leopard was thinking of taking another animal in the future. All of this aside I would like to ask the question. With the game industry growing the way it is, what is left for the predators and their very important role in biodiversity in this country? If these are the laws with sheep and cows running around, what is going to happen when a predator takes a R200 000 black impala? I think we need to draw the line and say “enough is enough” and these pseudo conservationist, businessmen need to relinquish their title of “conservationists” and hand it over to the people who actually work for nothing else but the satisfaction that comes from helping something that cant speak for itself.
Researcher at The Landmark Foundation
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.