The myth of sport hunting as a solution to conservation

An open letter to Mozambique by Josphat Ngonyo,  founder,  Africa Network for Animal Welfare

On behalf of Africa Network forAanimal Welfare (ANAW), a network of organizations and individuals interested in promoting humane treatment of animals in Africa while working with communities and governments, I write to you Sir, with the aim of engaging with you, on the most recent development in your country, the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) approving $40 million grant to your country, to fund conservation efforts that include strengthening the country’s program of selling the rights to hunt wild animals.

I write to your government to request you to reconsider this grant in light of the unmistakable negative effects this would have on wildlife conservation in Mozambique and the rest of Africa at large.

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4 thoughts on “The myth of sport hunting as a solution to conservation

  1. Hunters Conservationists Not
    “Hunters Lead War on Wildlife”: And I would add ranchers and wildlife agencies, extraction industries and developers and outfitter organization, i.e. Safari Club, Montana Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: Hunters and trappers have been calling themselves conservationists lately a lot it seems. Hunters create a distortion in wildlife ecology that is not natural. Hunting and trapping are no longer natural. Killing wildlife for fun is not a sport and is not healthy behavior. Hunters often cite early conservationists and early efforts to save game species (birds and ungulate herds) and fishes and on-going efforts to save game animals (killing targets for sportsmen). Some early “hunter-trapper conservationists” of considerable note were early pioneers in conservation in some forms of conservation: Teddy Roosevelt was one and he also founded numerous national parks and wildlife refuges to protect wildlife from hunter-trapper sportsmen. Aldo Leopold was one, an avid hunter, and naturalist, who became more enlightened about protecting the wolf, a few on the landscape anyway, and other predators and their place in the ecology. George Grinnell was one and also founded national parks including Glacier. I have met and know some hunters that like a balanced ecology of predators and prey, a true wilderness in which to hunt, and who disagree with trophy hunting and are even disgusted by it– and one who compares killing wolves to shooting his neighbor’s German Shepherd. But such hunter-sportsmen are far from often on the landscape; most have a very irrational, uninformed, visceral hate of wolves in particular and predators in general and want to minimize, marginalize, or exterminate them and essentially farm ungulates and game birds; as Aldo Leopold once did. Some even hate raptors who take “their” birds and “their” fish, as they view ungulates as “their” elk or deer. Most sportsmen and state wildlife agencies, it seems, want to marginalize the main predators (wolf, lion, grizzly). Nebraska only has about 70 cougars yet is embarking on a vigorous “management” campaign, as is SD with only 170 cougars. Alaska is killing wolves just outside national parks; Denali National Park has loss 2/3 of it’s’ wolves, negatively affecting wolf watching opportunities. Since wolves have been turned over to state “management” 2700 wolves have been killed plus another 3435 by the rogue USDA Wildlife Services which kills 3-4 million animals a year in the name of control. Organizations of sportsmen such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has given money, recently $25,000 to MT FWP for wolf “management”, has offered bounties and cooperative agreements with agencies for wolf killing; and the Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife recently donated $15,000 to Wildlife Services USDA, the renegade killing wildlife agency.Sportsmen organizations are silent on predators if not unashamedly hostile but loud on protecting and farmed game species. There are wildlife killing contests going on all over the USA and in some places, like TX, weekly. Hunters even call these killing contests conservation, killing coyotes for instance to save deer. States like ID-MT-WY-WI-MI have vigorous unscientific, political drive down the wolf population policies: trapping, extended seasons, and liberal kill policies year around. In 2014 hunters in WI are allowed to use dogs, up to six each, and killed 65 wolves in 4 days. Much of this wildlife killing is done by trapping, a barbaric, horrendous way to kill and mostly unjustified. Trapping on public land is done for “recreational” sports killing, the fur trade, trophies, with little regard for ecology and the interests of the general public, wildlife viewing, safety of the general public, and it takes a large toll in collateral damage to non-targeted animals, and is overly touted as need to control. There is some need for handling “nuisance animals” but the notion is abused with too little evaluation of the need, too little scientific management and too much good old boy political management, too little nonlethal means used; basically trapping is a quick draw response and such a barbaric, inherently cruel means of “management” that it should be under tight scrutiny with a public panel oversight and used only by wildlife agencies sparingly. Trapping and hunting is really profiteering on wildlife as a renewable resource. There are around 7000 trappers in Montana alone doing it mostly for personal gain from the fur trade. In the case of killing African wildlife for big bucks, trophy hunters are not conservationists. LIon populations are down 40%. An elephant is killed about every hour. Rhino numbers are way down. We should just stop trophy hunting at all in Africa and here; stop animal parts imports. Walter Palmer the lion poacher, killer of Cecil the lion, should be fined and maybe even jailed by Zimbabwe and barred from the country and probably from even hunting in this country.

  2. Aldo Leopold, is considered a “pioneer” of wildlife management, a “science” he defined as “the art of making land produce sustained annual crops of wild game for recreational use” (Wikipedia, Wildlife Management). He was one of the early supporters of predator control for the benefit of increasing recreational killing opportunities for hunters in game herds (called game farming nowadays). He supposedly saw the wisdom of having a “few” wolves on the landscape after just opportunistically shooting one because it happened into his gunsight. He witnessed the light going out of the wolf’s eyes as she died and experienced remorse. He had been responsible for killing about 300 southwestern wolves in “predator control” (Game Management, Aldo Leopold, 1933). It is uncertain, I think, that he would have come around to trophic cascade wildlife ecology, rather than a minimalist, marginalizing view of predators, the hunter attitudes of game farming for maximum recreational killing. He was a hunter with hunter values, and rancher values, and mythology, veiled and open, an irrational bias against predators, seeing them as ravagers of ungulates rather than the healthy positive trophic cascading apex predator. After all, wildlife was to be “managed” as an annual recreational killing harvest and controlled as pests. So, Aldo Leopold was not really the conservationist he has been romanticized to be, but rather an avid “hunter conservationist” and a wildlife “agency conservationist”, the very people who are often if not usually the enemy of the wolf, predators balanced ecology. But, he may have evolved.
    Game Management, Aldo Leopold, 1933

    Wikipedia, Wildlife Management

    Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold

    Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time…/places.shtml The Aldo Leopold Foundation

    Trophic cascade – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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