The article "Hunting - South Africa's shame"Â� is a one-sided piece of journalism that is void of objectivity and has the sole aim of killing the noble art of hunting. It is clear that the journalist, Michelle Pickover, has as her main target white Afrikaner men.
Under the title "Incestuous relationship"Â�, the following is written:
In South Africa, the source of 85% of Africa's trophies, (18) the Government is actively promoting the development of game ranches to feed the rapacious demands of trophy hunters.
"A small, but vociferous, pro-gun and pro-hunting lobby, largely made up of white Afrikaans speaking males is bank rolling the trophy hunting industry. Seemingly entrenched Government bureaucrats who were appointed during the Apartheid era and who are also mostly white, Afrikaans speaking men and who on the whole support hunting, in turn, prop them up.
"In this way, unacceptable practices are being enabled by the very official agencies that should be playing an independent monitoring and even watchdog role."
She stated that hunting is "colonialism reborn"Â�, because it does not benefit the local communities. The sources quoted are Pickover and an American study by the Humane Society in the USA.
Pickover is from Animal Rights Africa and the above quote referred to elephants. She acknowledged the fact that there "are too many elephants"Â�, but does not propose an alternative to culling which she finds "abhorrent"Â�. Objectivity, therefore, is not an option for her. So, let's put the facts on the table first.
1. "A small... pro-gun and pro-hunting lobby"Â�. There are an estimated 200 000 hunters in South Africa who contribute over R10 billion a year to the South African economy. The group is therefore not small (See: University of North West study: National Profile and Impact of Hunting in South Africa 2007).
2. "The government bureaucrats are mostly white Afrikaans speaking men."Â� This clearly indicates that she seldom if ever interacts with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), especially the provincial departments. I trawled through the websites of the DEAT and I could find no substance for the claim. But fascists are known lovers of conspiracy theories.
3. Trophy hunting plays a role in the conservation of species (See: Economic and Conservation Significance of the Trophy Hunting Industry in Sub-Saharan Africa by PA Lindsey et al and DEAT Patterson Report 2005, as well as Joni E Baker: Trophy Hunting as a Sustainable Use, Journal of Sustainable Tourism vol 5 no 4). Pickover did mention that certain criteria must be present, which we will discuss in a later edition.
Trophy hunting is a positive activity because:
a. It generates revenue in areas where alternatives such as photographic ecotourism may not be viable;
b. It does not preclude other forms of resource use
c. It generates high revenue from low volumes of hunters
d. It is a tool for problem animal control
e. Its presence can reduce illegal hunting
4. Responsible trophy hunting enhances conservation. It does not need "special relationships"Â� to exist.
Pickover uses the colonialism argument to substantiate a claim that local communities do not benefit from hunting activities. East Africa is singled out in this regard. South Africa, however, does not escape unscathed.
Private game farms are in private hands, but this does not absolve the hunter from this accusation.
Do locals benefit from training and schooling? In areas of the old homelands the question is more real. Does hunting benefit the community or does the money go into the pockets of the outfitters of traditional leaders only?
We as hunters need to be sensitive about this subject. If we do not share the benefits of our hunting activities, we will not gain ambassadors for our sport, but will unwittingly provide the Pickovers of this world with more ammunition.
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