The two opposing forces in the wildlife arena

2014-05-28 08:36

The last four short essays on this subject have, hopefully, slowly created a better informed public – about the principles and practices of wildlife management. Perhaps now, therefore, we can start broaching important subjects that require some in-depth understanding.

Over the last 50 years battle lines have been slowly drawing up between two opposing forces in the wildlife arena – world-wide. The ‘animal rightists’ and people like myself – practical and experienced wildlife managers who believe in BOTH the preservation-management of UNSAFE animal and plant populations, and the conservation-management of SAFE animal and plant populations – with emphasis on the survival benefits that can be derived both by nature AND by man when they live in symbiotic harmony.

You will note that I am, on purpose, refraining from using the term ‘endangered species’ – which (in terms of public perception) I have justly labelled as being a fallacy. I have also moved away from talking about the management of species, towards the management a species’ separate populations.   We are also now using the alternative terminology - SAFE and UNSAFE populations (rather than ‘endangered’) - which is far more appropriate and meaningful in the context of science-based wildlife management practices.

As a soldier in one of the battle lines, I can tell you that I strongly believe in the World Conservation Strategy (WCS) 1980 (revised 1991), which is the mission statement of the IUCN (The International Union for the Conservation of Nature). The three objectives of what the WCS describes as “living resource conservation” are:

(1). To maintain essential ecological processes and life support systems;

(2). To preserve genetic diversity; 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.

In 1980 the responsible nations of the world declared the WCS to be the blueprint for the survival of man on planet earth; and they pledged themselves to model their National Conservation Strategies (NCSs) on the WCS template.

The WCS supports not only the sustainable utilisation of wildlife for the benefit of man at the subsistence level - but at the commercial level, too. In all respects, however, emphasis is placed on the word ‘sustainable’!   Practically ALL wildlife utilisation practises are possible, and might be considered acceptable, provided they are sustainable.

On the other side of the battlefield is an army animal rightists whose purpose in life is to ABOLISH ALL animal ‘uses’ by man. They reject, outright, the provisions of the WCS; and they find it abhorrent that man should actually ‘benefit’ from such use.

To better understand these issues, it is important that society should not equate ‘animal welfare’ (e.g. Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) with ‘animal rights’. They are two totally different doctrines; and the animal rightists (although - to confuse the public - they often identify themselves as being ‘animal welfare’ in orientation) actually despise TRUE animal welfare groups. The animal rightists claim that the biggest obstacle to them achieving their abolitionist objectives is the existence and the acceptance of animal welfare NGOs within society. They say that by ‘regulating’ man’s use of animals within society, animal welfare people give ‘animal-use’ credibility and this provides social resistance to their own questionable objectives.

I will expand on these same issues in later essays within this series.

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