Hunters: The Best Conservationist, Ever (Part 4)

by david on October 11, 2012

If something has value, people will put up with the little aggravations that go along with it in order to receive some of said value.  This not only applies to leopards, lions and livestock eaters, it works just as well for herbivores.  Elephants do a lot of crop damage if given the chance.  The fence surrounding the crop looks even worse.  The same goes for all animals that like to supplement their diet of leaves and grass with a little bit of fresh veggies.  A farmer will put up with some crop loss if someone is willing to pay him more than the damages to come hunt on his property.  Some farmers have gotten out of agriculture altogether in favor of raising wild game.  It has been estimated that there are more plains animals in quantity and variety in southern Africa now than there was when the Dutch first settled on the cape in the 1650s.  Not such a bad thing for the hunter and animal alike. 

It would be great if this wonderful success story was true throughout Africa, but it is not.  Kenya banned all hunting in the 1970s and its animal populations have plummeted since.  Poaching is the main culprit, which has been devastating to the population, with illegal killing of animals to protect livestock and crops, with people being a close second.  Despite what the rest of the world thinks, animals that have no reason to fear man may decide they taste pretty good and are very easy to catch if given half a chance.  According to Charles E. Kay, Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology, Kenya has lost 60-70% of its large wildlife even in the national parks.  Namibia, on the other hand, uses input from scientists and it’s PHs (professional hunters) to decide hunting quotas, and it has a healthy, sustainable game population.  The healthy game population, in turn, results in a lot of hunters’ dollars coming into the country.  These dollars create jobs, add tax revenue, pay for animal research, and provide incentive to take care of Namibia’s game.  It does not take any great stretch of imagination to see the cyclic nature of the process.  Hunting wild game creates revenue, and revenue creates wild game, which creates more hunting opportunities, and so on and so forth.  As long as hunting is allowed and hunters have disposable income, Africa’s wild game is going to be fine.

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