SUSTAINABLE USE IN COMBATTING ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE

2015-01-16 12:27

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is inviting interested people to participate in a symposium next month “somewhere near Johannesburg”. This is the IUCN’s response to the deteriorating state of affairs vis-a-vis the poaching of Africa’s valuable wildlife and the rural people’s attitude towards it. The catalogue of topics they invite delegates to address, suggests that they want to review of the current status quo. Participants, it seems, will be expected to evaluate what has been done to date, and to make recommendations for improvement.

Nowhere is there any suggestion that the ‘causes’ of the poaching be evaluated or discussed - which means the IUCN is happy with its own ideas about that topic.

There are two kinds of people ostensibly trying to solve the wildlife poaching conundrum today. Those who support the sustainable use of wildlife in the interest of mankind; and animal rightists - those purpose is to abolish ALL animal ‘uses’ by man. The solution, however, is NOT total protection!

The causes of the current commercial wildlife poaching pandemic - at grassroots level - are poverty and unemployment. And 25 percent of South Africa’s people have been poverty-stricken and unemployed since 1994 and before. This is where the international poaching syndicates find their foot soldiers - to do the killing; and this cohort of our society is a bottomless pit because these poor people will do anything to survive.

This is the problem we have to solve, and which we have to write into the solutions that we must find to save our wildlife from what appears to be inevitable extinction. Today there is an estimated 650 million people living in Africa South of the Sahara. By 2100 that number will have swollen to 2.5 billion (UN statistics). This reality cannot be ignored. It, too, has to be addressed.

We have to find a way, therefore, to integrate the ‘needs’ of our wildlife with the ‘needs’ of our people - which means, in effect, we have to look towards solutions to the poaching problem that will relieve poverty and unemployment through the sustainable ‘use’ (in every dimension) of our wild animals. And we need to maximise the financial returns from this “use” if we are to make even a dent in the long term poverty and unemployment stakes.

The only way this can be achieved is for society to start thinking about our wild animals as wild ‘products of the land’ – as cattle sheep and goats are tame ‘products of the land’. Both should used sustainably and wisely for the benefit of Africa’s people. And the most lucrative way to harvest the cream of our wild animals is by hunting them - and by selling them (AND our harvestable wildlife products - like rhino horn) to the highest bidder.

Unfortunately the IUCN - ever since it opened its doors to people who disapprove of the ‘sustainable use’ of our living resources concept - have developed a virulent antagonism towards hunting and hunters. They are now publicly attacking HRH Prince Charles - heir to the British throne - because he is a hunter. This is despicable conduct and quite contrary to the provisions of IUCN’s mission statement, the World Conservation Strategy. Hunting is, and always has been, one of the principle tools of wildlife management and I would like to hear how the IUCN’s tries to wriggle out of this contradiction.

Africa doesn’t need ‘advice’ from organisations like the IUCN, WWF and CITES as they are presently constituted. All three of these once pristine and honourable organisations have allowed themselves to be very seriously contaminated by the animal rights doctrine - which is totally incompatible with the principles and practices of science-based wildlife management.   Although the subject is dear to my heart - and although I have advanced ideas about the solution to Africa’s commercial poaching problem - I am not prepared to share any space with the IUCN, WWF and CITES. I turn my back of them and urge all other responsible people in the wildlife industry to do the same. To do otherwise is to consort with people who are the enemies of our wild animals and our national parks.

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