Wildlife management and conservation: not the same thing

2014-04-23 06:10

Early in April 2014, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it was banning all American imports of elephant hunting trophies from Tanzania and Zimbabwe.  This is America’s response to the so-called ‘International Conservation Community’s’ stratagem to ban all ‘sustainable wildlife use practices’ throughout Africa – as they have succeeded in doing in Kenya.  The purpose of this dictum, they say, is to stop elephant poaching. This ideal would be hilarious in its stupidity except for the fact that it is seriously going to make matters grossly worse.

I am not going to start shadow boxing on this matter now, however, because society will not understand the full implications until it sees the ‘bigger conservation picture’.  And it is my self-imposed task, in these blogs, to make that picture visible and comprehensible.

The ‘bigger conservation picture’ - to use a euphemism that I dislike, because it incorrectly uses the word ‘conservation’ – is, nevertheless, a vision which society seems to understand.  The bigger picture is like a jigsaw puzzle in which each piece has a specific meaning and function.  To understand ‘the picture’ and to see where and how each piece fits into it, we have to recognise the individual pieces and what they represent. Our vocabulary, therefore, must be meaningful and unambiguous.

What we will be discussing throughout - in real terms - is ‘wildlife management’. So, at the outset, it is necessary to explain just what this means. Wildlife management is what most people erroneously refer to as ‘conservation’.

Not only is the misuse of this word undesirable, it is also misleading because, if you consistently use a word (any word) in such a way that it conveys a false meaning, how then are you going to get round the problem of using that same (important) word in the context of its correct meaning – without causing confusion?

Wildlife management is one of the more important pieces of the ‘bigger conservation jigsaw puzzle’. It describes the action that man takes to achieve man-desired objectives.  For example, it has been internationally recognised that the most important (man-desired) wildlife management objective, in a national park, is to maintain the park’s species diversity.

Maintaining biological diversity is a human desideratum.  And ALL other man-desired objectives in a national park are subjugated to this primary purpose.

There is nothing ‘natural’ about wildlife management: It is man-conceived; man designed; man-implemented; man-manipulated; and man is the principle beneficiary.  Why is man the principle beneficiary? – because man succeeds in achieving his desiderata.

Through his applications of the principles of wildlife management, man can achieve a whole host of different goals.  Whatever he wants to do – within reason – man can achieve, provided he applies the correct management practices. And if things have gone seriously wrong, because of past bad wildlife management practices, and man applies the correct remedial actions, he can often rectify the previous bad results.

He will never achieve his desired goals, however - or rectify undesirable states of affair - if he ‘does nothing’.  That is why ‘leaving nature to her own devices’ in a national park is TOTALLY WRONG.  Nevertheless, many national park and nature conservation officials insist on telling the public that they practice ‘minimal interference with nature’ in the management of their wildlife sanctuaries.   I don’t know what they hope to achieve by such perfidious subterfuge, but statements like that normally mean the sanctuaries are being grossly MIS-managed.

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