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Bewaring/Conservation


Know thy enemy
30 Mar 2009
[In Afrikaans]

Latest News

The next quote in the article "Hunting South Africa's shame"� the following was said:

Infertility, inbreeding and other side effects

Is trophy hunting a menace or can it be managed in such a way that it will circumvent all associated problems?
That is the question. Read the following damning paragraph from an article by Michelle Pickover and the subsequent remarks - and you be the judge.

"Trophy hunting also has serious genetic implications. Hunters target males in their prime with the largest manes or biggest horns, the animals that protect the rest of the pride from predators. The impact of this can be seen in heavily hunted areas, such as Tanzania, where the size of trophy tusks or manes rapidly decreases, much to the annoyance of hunters."�

The article then went on the quote sources which are not relevant to the point but it raises the question of the gene pool. It is a well known fact that regular hunting increases the gene pool, because more males get the opportunity to mate. But so far this only benefited the fertility side of game. It may not necessarily increase the trophy sizes. This poses the question: does trophy hunting contribute to conservation? Academics are circumspect on this, even the pro hunting species.

Trophy hunting gives value to an animal and that is the first step towards conserving that animal. The second step requires sustainable use of the animals. It is here where exclusive trophy hunting begins to falter. A trophy animal has an unusual physical attribute within its species. That physical attribute might very well contribute to its ability to survive in most instances. The constant harvesting of trophy animals on a game farm will have the effect that the specific physical attributes of those animals are diminished and with it a specific gene pool.

For trophy hunting to be sustainable it requires a specific management plan from the farm owner. He needs to be aware of the number of trophy animals on the farm. Trophy hunting should only be allowed when it is part of the farm owner's plan that some of the trophy animals should be replaced. At the moment the distinction only manifests itself in the price. Hunters are willing to play a premium for trophy animals. This does not make for sustainable use of game and it is an arbitrary method of controlling important strains in a gene pool. It needs stricter management.

Yes, it is difficult while hunting to judge in a few seconds whether one is aiming at a trophy animal before the trigger is pulled. The solution lies with the farm owner. If he has trophy animals his tracker should know those animals and should advise the hunter not to shoot them. The farm owner should not allow the hunter to hunt alone or the price for a trophy animal should be so high that the hunter will think twice before pulling the trigger. This is the basis on which academics are prepared to advocate trophy hunting as a conservation method.

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