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Hunting as a conservation tool revisited once again

Writing from a typically naïve and misinformed perspective, Mayra Duarte of Bahr El Jebel Safaris posted a recent article on the Wildlife Express website called "Hunting as a Conservation Tool".

Her basic conclusion is that trophy hunters should be called to dispose of cattle raiding (lions) and crop raiding (buffalos) animals to the benefit of all. The advantages? Rural people living on the edges of unfenced protected areas would gain significant benefits as the hunters would pay them for the privilege of hunting on their lands, the trophy fees would in part go to the landowners to cover their losses, and instead of seeing wildlife as a problem, the farmers would grow to love the raiders and not poison them or poach them. Oh, and the trophy hunters would only kill one animal (being conservationists) and drive the rest back into the reserve so she says.

Research before you post….

Why is the article naïve and misinformed? Mayra has clearly not read much of the ongoing debates on other websites (and ours) where the question of hunting as a conservation tool has been extensively discussed and the concept found wanting in very many details. For example, in areas where communities living with wildlife have set aside a significant part of their land for hunting purposes, the returns have been found minimal and inappropriate, and many communities are now rightfully sceptical of hunting and conservation. The day has yet to come where members of any rural community in Africa have had the magnificent revelation that wildlife pests are now wildlife friends, perhaps because they are not true financial participants but exploited bystanders under payment schemes that greatly benefit the hunting companies (read our blog here). In addition, trophy hunters are not the great conservationists their lobbying groups and knee-jerk supporters portray them as being (see our trophy hunting blog here).

…. And Governments utilizing wildlife also have a responsibility

The concept of hunters being utilized as problem animal controllers and paying fees to landowners for their trophies has been discussed and dismissed by experts and governments. Why? Because it is greatly open to abuse. Consider this scenario – a farmer living next to a protected area slaughters a cow, takes some of the meat, and leaves the carcass strategically placed. This will attract vultures, and thereby lure lions out of the protected area. Call a hunter, claim the lions killed the cow, and claim the trophy fee. Hunters in Zimbabwe already lure lions out of Hwange Park with baits, so why should not farmers under Mayra’s scheme?

Collecting trophies from “problem” animals is not a solution, it is a can of worms. Better Mayra thinks again about hunting and conservation, informs herself better, and perhaps comes up with a more realistic scheme. To quote Barbara Woodhouse – there are no bad dogs. Similarly, there are no “problem animals”. This is a complete myth created by those guilty of bad planning, allowing no buffer zones between protected areas and inhabited areas with agriculture. And allowing cattle to graze inside protected areas as well. If wildlife and agriculture do not mix, do better planning rather than bemoaning the inevitable results of sitting back and allowing such mixture. If African governments have the will to conserve their wildlife, which seems to be in doubt for many countries, then they should engage people with realistic ideas rather than endlessly repeating fanciful schemes that have not worked in the past and will not in the future.

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Posted by Pieter Kat at 12:17

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