Lift the ban on imports of hunting trophies to save African wildlife

The Chronicle

Emmanuel Koro
A major SADC safari hunting company which has so far spent over $3.2 million to support wildlife conservation and socio-economic development in Tanzania has called on the UK government to halt the planned law banning trophy hunting imports, saying it would harm Africans and wildlife. .

“Does the UK government really want to destroy these human lives, let alone the wildlife in these reserves?” said Mr Robin Hurt of Robin Hurt Safaris, in his appeal for the UK government to stop the proposed ban on imports of hunting trophies harmful to wildlife.

Safari hunting is a legal and highly valued industry in African countries that allow it, including Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, South Africa and Mozambique.

Namibia alone has more than 80 community-based wildlife conservation projects, all managed by indigenous peoples; who are 100% dependent on income from safari hunting.

Mr Hurt’s appeal comes ahead of UK MPs’ vote on the 18 March 2022 second reading of the private member’s bill sponsored by industry animal rights groups to ban imports of hunting trophies in the UK, including the African Big Five (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo).

Mr Hurt has, like other safari hunting companies operating in Africa, continued to use international hunting revenues to support wildlife and habitat conservation, including the socio-economic development of hunting communities. .

“I have chosen to support wildlife and habitat conservation, anti-poaching as well as socio-economic development of hunting communities in Tanzania where we operate,” he said.

“Since 2006, we have built 37 schools, 75 teachers’ houses, 28 medical clinics, 34 village government offices, 19 wells and water pumps, nine water storage tanks and five water pipes.”

British-born Mr. Hurt who celebrates his 59th season as a full-time professional hunter this year and also his 77th birthday; lived all his life in Africa.

Although he has British blood, he is ‘African at heart’ and considers himself to be African. Robin Hurt Safaris Tanzania is now run and managed by his sons, Derek and Roger.

“My sons are both professional hunters who enthusiastically pursue my conservation ideals,” Hurt said.

Robin Hurt Safaris supports wildlife and lifestyle conservation as well as community socio-economic projects that include anti-poaching activities such as collecting steel snares, supporting community game wardens, building classrooms, community health program, beekeeping, village community. banks and education improvement activities.

Mr Hurt said one of the most important parts of “our anti-poaching efforts is the removal and destruction” of steel trap lines.

“These traps are extremely destructive to wildlife numbers,” he said. “Although the snares are intended to catch buffaloes and antelopes, many predators are also killed. In addition, elephants and rhinos are sometimes mutilated by these traps.

We estimate that each trap kills an average of five animals per year. Since 1986, we have destroyed approximately 60,000 traps. This saved the lives of around 300,000 animals.

“Robin Hurt, who in my long years of conservation, is probably the most committed conservationist I know,” said Mr. Wilfried Pabst, a German who works at the Sango Conservancy in Zimbabwe and who brought an immense contribution to wildlife conservation which includes the translocation of 100 elephants using his personal finances.
If implemented, the UK Government’s Trophy Hunting Import Ban Bill would not only destroy the wildlife and habitat conservation gains that Mr Hurt has supported over the 59 last years as a professional hunter; but would also destroy the hopes of socio-economic development of African hunting communities.

“This ban is a ‘great’ idea if destroying our wildlife is what the UK government has in mind,” said Mr Pabst who warned the UK government that ‘it’s a form of neo-colonialism’ it is pursuing the bill without conducting site visits to African hunting communities and also without consulting African politicians, chiefs, rural councils and local people.

Meanwhile, more than 100 of the world’s leading scientists and conservationists wrote an open letter to the UK government this month warning it not to introduce the Import Ban Bill. trophies, as it takes away both revenue and incentives to conserve African wildlife.

“Although proponents of hunting trophy import bans claim that such legislation will save African animals, such bans will eventually achieve the exact opposite, leading to unprecedented rates of habitat loss, resulting in the wildlife depletion,” said the President of the African Professional Hunters Association, Mr Mike Angelides. .

CITES permits the hunting of all wildlife, including endangered wildlife, as long as it does not harm the hunted population, and recognizes hunting as a necessary wildlife management tool. Hunting does not have a negative impact on wildlife, as only 0.5 to 3% of the population is hunted.

Despite knowing that CITES permits the hunting of endangered species as a scientific method of successfully managing wildlife, a British London-based newspaper, The Times, chose this month to demonize hunting and mislead the public in an article written by Ms. Judi Dench and Mr. Pierre Egan.

“…British hunters are shooting endangered animals in increasing numbers,” they said in a bid to mislead the ignorant world into believing that international hunting of endangered species is illegal.

Elsewhere, observers say it is hypocritical and dictatorial for the UK to allow hunting domestically while seeking to ban imports of hunting trophies.

The Southern Africa Community Leaders Network said in a recent statement that such double standards undermine the human rights of millions of its members, threaten their livelihoods and disrespect the region’s unprecedented conservation success. SADC.

“So it seems, unfortunately, that Africa is facing a new kind of racism – one where one life is worth far more than another,” said the CEO of the Association of Operators and Professional Hunters. Africa, Ms. Danene van der Westhuyzen.

The demonization of international hunting by Ms. Dame Judi Dench and Mr. Egan of The Times has been questioned.

They said without quoting a single villager from the African countries where the hunt takes place: “Some of their operations are multi-million pound businesses, but the villagers say they make no profit from them.”

“Why is the Times determined to demonize the legal safari hunting industry?” asks Mr. Hurt. “It’s (legal hunting) a way to fund costly wilderness and wildlife stewardship outside of protected areas – and more importantly to fund local communities who co-exist with wild animals and rightly have the right to earn revenue by setting aside land for wildlife habitation.. In addition, it funds anti-poaching programs.

Mr Hurt said that contrary to The Times’ misrepresentation of the benefits of international hunting, there is enough evidence on the ground in African hunting communities to illustrate the benefits of hunting.

“Masoka Secondary School, built for hunting wild animals in Zimbabwe, has so far trained two doctors and more doctors and professionals will be trained in the future,” a hunting community representative said. of wild animals from Masoka, Mr. Ishmael Chaukura.

“The school has also produced accountants, teachers, nurses, technicians and engineers, etc. Income from wildlife lifts children born into poverty; through education.

These benefits of hunting make us appreciate the need to conserve wildlife and its habitat.

The benefits of international hunting have resulted in the residents of the Anabeb Conservancy in Namibia moving from the tradition of using their land for livestock production to safari hunting. Their attitude towards wildlife has changed for the better.

“I remember poaching a big kudu for meat,” said the chairman of the Anabeb Conservancy of Namibia, Mr. Ovehi Kasaona.

“My friends were also meat poachers, including my father and grandfather. My uncle even poached for the sale of rhino horns. In the past, when we saw wild animals, we saw meat for the pot.

Now we associate wildlife with tourism ventures such as the lodges we have built, using money from wildlife hunting. This has created jobs for people who work in the lodges and those who go on game drives. »

Africans are notorious for never conserving wildlife until they benefit from it – they prefer to poach it.

Therefore, it remains to be seen whether or not the British government will go ahead with a bill that takes away these never-before-seen advantages of international hunting and, in doing so, adds to the list of bad legacies of British colonialism. in Africa – the needless destruction of African wildlife and their habitat.
“Britain has a dark past of colonization, exploitation, slavery and the cause of a litany of sadness across our continent (Africa),” said Mr Paul Stones who runs Paul Stones Safaris and hunting in Mozambique and South Africa.

“Africa is tired of being treated like the bastards (dogs with no definable type or race) of the world, by what are considered ‘first world’ countries. The Covid-19 pandemic was proof enough.

Emmanuel Koro is an award-winning freelance environmental journalist based in Johannesburg who writes extensively on environment and development issues in Africa.

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