If you are reading this, then you most probably also care deeply about animal welfare issues – you too were also probably deeply moved by Cecil the lion’s cruel and needless torture in late July.
Call it an awakening (or else why would I feel compelled to get up and start writing this at 5 am on a Sunday morning?). But apart from ‘caring’ what can one do?
I read a 14 August 2015, Time Magazine article by Alissa Greenberg, titled “If You Got Mad Over Cecil the Lion, Here Are 5 Ways You Can Bring About Change(1).” It got me thinking.
So let me summarise and explain how it has encouraged me. Alissa’s article (which I suggest you read in full from the attached link) proposed five key points:
- Become Informed
- Make Your Voice Heard
So, what have I done, or thought on any of those points?
Become Informed – I have been reading lots on-line, some written by you perhaps dear reader. I have been revisiting books on the subject of conservation, hunting etc. One area that I have found fascinating is the hypothesis that “Trophy Hunting generates income, which boosts local economies and supports conservation.” Really we should be thanking these Trophy Hunters for their ‘noble’ work! This ‘hypothesis’ (I purposely call it that, because there is no hard evidence to support it) would appear to be a myth. The numbers just don’t seem to exist to support it. I intended to investigate some more and write about this next time perhaps………….…to be continued.
Make Your Voice Heard – I have been signing so many on-line petitions, I’ve lost count. Hopefully, the collective voice these petitions contain will make a difference at some future time. Plus, like many I have been typing away on various forums and on-line communities, Cecil: The Lion of course. This has helped me to meet some likeminded souls (and some with no soul at all it seems). But, how can this outpouring best be harnessed to actually make a difference? Anonymous has pledged its allegiance to repel the scourge of Trophy Hunting. So they have heard the ‘voices’ calling for their help loud and clear. I draw inspiration and hope from the fact that both slavery and apartheid were abolished. At the time, both must have felt like immovable, entrenched regimes.
Visit – Alissa urged us (that care) to visit and support Safari Tourism in the sub-Sahara, show that tourist $ are much more valuable than hunting $. Hence, an animal’s long term life as a tourist attraction will be valued far more highly than as a ‘revenue stream’ that turns it into a wall ornament. If I had the spare cash, I would be on my way. I have looked at the African Bush Camp options and picked my favourites. What a thrill that would be to see these magnificent creatures at close quarters. One day soon I hope.
Volunteer – Alissa suggests volunteering to organisations such as the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF). This is a great suggestion for those free and able to take that particular calling. What a rich and rewarding life experience that would be – if anyone now feels compelled to volunteer in this way, then let’s hear that blog please! But is there another way to ‘volunteer’ perhaps, volunteering one’s time, experience and ideas to try and make a difference?
Donate – Giving support to causes is great. Perhaps it also means that at least some good can be garnered in Cecil’s name (may he RIP). I have been watching with interest and pleasure at the donations that have poured in for the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University (http://wildcru.org). Wild CRU was of course tracking Cecil at the time of his inhumane demise. The words of Professor Macdonald, The founder of Wild CRU, keep echoing in my mind and seem worthy of repetition here – “His [Cecil’s] death, however, is an embarrassment to us all – an act far more senseless and brutal than any nature could ever conceive.”
What else can we do? – I have decided I need to try and do more, much more. Over the past few weeks I have devised a plan with some business colleagues to launch a new on-line platform. The aim of this not for profit entity and its platform, will be to converge wildlife welfare ideas, funds and support into a lively crucible. The aim is to make all participants wildlife entrepreneurs to some extent. The best ideas will be taken forward, funded and managed to fruition.
For example – “Anti-poaching is 90% managing people” Damien Mander, founder and CEO of IAPF told TIME(1).
Perhaps there is a better way to employ and develop technology to aid anti-poaching rangers’ communication and management. Gaining tactical intelligence on poaching activity from mission specific, rapid response automated drones; interactive wildlife Tracking Collars that have built in alerts and counter-measures; strategy management and improved communications equipment etc.
Your ideas ‘can’ and ‘will’ make a difference to conservation and anti-poaching measure, with a longer term aim to also seek to influence a game changing shift in the thin veil of ‘legality’ and ‘acceptability’ the Trophy Hunting and Canned Hunting fraternity hide behind.
I’ll happily keep you posted on the venture I have outlined in due course. I’ll post more as things develop and announcements can be made.