“Life After Cecil….”

We have seen the emotional blackmail the hunting industry has recently stooped to with the raffle of lion hunts and now, the auction of ‘canned’ lions to the highest bidder.

However, no true conservationist could willingly participate and directly fund activities that essentially breed animals to be subsequently hunted. The hunting industry needs to reform and base its notion of ‘conservation’ on scientifically proven principles, only then can there be any commonality of approach/funding.

A 2015 paper(1) has appeared in ‘A Journal of the Society for Conservation Biology’, entitled “Life After Cecil: Channelling Global Outrage into Funding for Conservation in Africa” (Lindsey et al., 2015), and also calls on the “conservation community” to help fund  (the hunters’ version of) ‘conservation.’ It should be noted that all the authors are associated with Panthera, a New York based organisation:

Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to the conservation of wild cats and their landscapes, which sustain people and biodiversity. Panthera’s team of preeminent cat biologists develop and implement science-based conservation strategies for tigers, lions, jaguars, snow leopards, leopards, pumas and cheetahs. Representing the most comprehensive effort of its kind, Panthera works in partnership with NGOs, scientific institutions, communities, corporations and governments to create effective, replicable models that are saving wild cats around the globe.“

However, Panthera is not believed to be against Trophy Hunting in principle, so the referenced paper’s theme is naturally a little biased and considers much of the media coverage following Cecil’s demise (may he RIP) as “emotional and polarized, focusing on animal welfare and debating the value of hunting as a conservation tool.”

Well, Trophy Hunting is clearly open to debate (emotional or otherwise) as a conservation tool, because there is very little scientific evidence found to support its claims to ‘conservation.’ After much research, I am clearly of the view that Trophy Hunting just about serves to finance establishing habitat to hold species’ populations (with little evidence of any income trickle down to local communities)(2). But often the biggest threat to populations within that same habitat held is from unscientific, excessive, profit driven hunting quotas(3), with the zealous hunter only too keen to accept such preposterous quotas as ‘sustainable conservation’ without any conscience or notion of doubt (a self-delusion that must end).

The paper(1) calls on the “conservation community” to focus “sustained funding for conservation on the continent [Africa]……..mitigate ongoing catastrophic losses of wildlife and wild lands.”

Well first, the hunting community needs to admit that the majority of their activities are not ‘conservation,’ but a morally questionable activity that protects habitat, not species (and only protects species against other threats so they may be excessively hunted) – the hunting community’s acceptance and on-going defence (with the exception of the PHASA in a recent PR move, November 2015) of ‘canned’ hunting over the past 20+ years has done nothing to garner any ‘cross-party’ commonality or trust.

Until such time as the Dallas Safari Club, Safari Club International et al. discontinue defending all of their activities as sacrosanct, then the call for a ‘co-operation’ for any ‘cross-party’ commonality is premature and patronising – patronising for promoting the message that the hunting community can blindly continue to support the taking of threatened species’ lives for trophies (whether the hunting quotas are based on sustainable science, or otherwise), whilst at the same time calling for more alternative funding sources to support ‘real’ conservation (which in turn potentially puts those same species/animals conserved at threat from inclusion in such excessive hunting quotas).

As the paper(1) states (and from independent research(2)), the hunting ‘business model’ is clearly, financially unsustainable, with increasing pressure and value on habitat for alternative usage. There is clearly a looming end to the generous concessions hunting operators have historically received to lease habitat for their hunting activities/businesses and the generous (ie. excessive) hunting quotas that are granted in tandem.

The funding requirements(1) for effective management of protected areas range from $460 to $2,048/km2 (Bell &Clarke, 1984, Packer et al. 2009 (2015 figures)), whereas hunting typically generates only £138 – $1,091/km2 in gross income.”  So, nett hunting income results (once the all-important profits are withdrawn etc.) show a significant financial shortfall with regard to effective habitat management.

The hunting industry across sub-Sahara Africa generates an income of approximately $230m USD per annum. So, that equates to approximately $230m USD/1.4 million km2, or approximately $164.3/km2 ($1.64/hectare). In contrast, it is suggested agriculture generates 300, to 600 times more per land unit area, so there is undeniable pressure on habitat/land returns as human population growth will increasingly demand (and will look increasingly economically viable) more land use for livestock and agriculture” – Reference 3, para 4.7

Where is the evidence that Trophy Hunting quotas are based on science, or indeed a call from the hunting community itself to show it has a focus on proven sustainability and not some made-up notion of sustainable quotas? Where is the science that says that Trophy Hunting habitats held are conservation and not enclosures that threaten species conservation? Where is the faith supposed to exist that the hunting community wants to see science as the foundation stone to its on-going killing activities? These concerns are not “emotional” but a call for a reasoned, scientific approach to all levels of wildlife and habitat conservation, be that a hunting reserve or otherwise.

Acknowledgement of such a reasoned approach seems to be sadly lacking within the hunting community (and its advocates).

In my opinion, only when that realisation is met by the hunting community and its advocates can the “conservation community” confidently focus more widespread “sustained funding for conservation on the continent [Africa]……..mitigate ongoing catastrophic losses of wildlife and wild lands” as suggested by Lindsey et al. (2015)(1).

 

References:

  1. Life After Cecil: Channelling Global Outrage into Funding for Conservation in Africa,” P.A. Lindey, G.A. Balme, P.J. Funston, P.H. Henschel & L.T.B. Hunter, Conservation Letters, A Journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, Wiley Periodicals Inc., December 2015
  2. The Economics of Poaching, Trophy and Canned Hunting,” Internationalwildlifebond1, dated 27 August, 2015
  3. How Can ‘We’ Save Panthera Leo?” IWB, 5 January 2016

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