by Johnny Rodrigues, founder, Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
We often hear of trophy hunters claiming to be conservationists and we find this difficult to understand. If this is the case, then there are two types of “conservation.”
There is the breeding of wild animals for hunting. This industry is supported by the hunting fraternity and animal breeders. The animals are bred en masse for the purpose of being inhumanely shot or hunted. Once these animals are captured, they can never be released back into the wild. In the case of lions, they are captured when they are cubs and at first, are sometimes used for customers to “walk with the lions.” Once they get too big for this, they are moved to another enclosure where they are offered to hunters to be shot. They are drugged and the hunter then shoots the lion. This is not really hunting because the lion doesn’t have a chance to escape. Some of them are used in canned hunting as well.
Landowners have gone into biodiversity, utilizing the land which was previously used for growing crops, for breeding these wild animals. They claim to have the right to give life to these animals by breeding them, but in the end they are shot with a rifle or a bow and arrow. To breed these animals and “play God” by giving life and then taking life away is cruel and inhumane , especially in the case of the cat family, elephants and rhino. They are kept in cages and have no freedom. These so-called conservationists claim this industry is sustainable, but it only benefits the land owners and trophy hunters, most of whom are millionaires.
This type of conservationist claims that once the animal has passed the prime breeding age for the species, the animal is no good and should be shot. This is the wrong conception. Humans are over-populating the world but when they are old, do we shoot them or do we look after them? Life is like a big chain and each species is like a link in the chain. Each link has a purpose and a job to do. When you start killing the animals, the chain gets shorter and shorter and this interferes with the circle of life.
Our National Parks are where real conservation should be taking place. The animals should be free to roam and tourists can come and see them and photograph them. Hunting should be banned altogether. We, as humans, rely on some of the animals for medicines etc. The elephant is a mobile manure factory, helping to germinate seeds, some of which are used to make medicines. Every species has an important part to play and this is why hunting should be banned.
The local people who live around the wildlife areas should be stakeholders in the industry. They should be given a percentage of the money earned from tourism in exchange for taking care of the animals. At the moment, these people don’t get anything. We should be able to co-exist with the wildlife without the cruelty and inhumanity.
Animals can take care of themselves as they always have. When there are too many of one species, the predators kill them for food. This is the way it should be. They don’t need our help to keep their numbers down.
We have heard that some Americans teach their children to hunt as young as seven years old. This is a horrifying concept. A child who is annoyed at school could possibly shoot someone because he has been brought up that way. [Editor’s note: this scenario has in fact happened many times. See Marysville school shooter loved hunting & pit bulls for details.]
We appeal to children all over the world to please write to their governments to ask them to stop hunting. We have received some letters from children and these are very important to us.
Money talks –– guilty walks.
Chair, Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
Landline: 263 4 339065
Mobile: 263 712 603 213