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Killing to conserve

I go to Africa to enjoy the huge, sparsely populated landscapes and habitats, feel the ancient red earth beneath my feet, wonder at vast star-filled nights and marvel at the astonishing variety of beautiful animals and birds.

So it is a truly unpalatable irony that in Africa individual animals are shot for ‘sport’ as a way of helping to conserve the species and their habitats.

Let me explain. Privately owned game farms maintain large tracts of land on which they raise and nurture a variety of animals. The species are conserved and protected, stocks are maintained and the land remains unexploited and wild.

The wild habitat supports birds, reptiles and insects. Visitors to game farms can camp, go on game drives to view the animals or – more profitably – visitors may be invited to go hunting with rifles or bows. I’m reliably informed that rich German and American men are the usual clients. Common species like impala and springbok might cost only US$350 to shoot, but a larger animal like a kudu, like this one we saw in northern Namibia, may cost a hunter US$1450 to kill.

Other species, including lion, leopard, elephant, even endangered species like rhino, for f**k’s sake can also be hunted at a price. This hunting safari provider is typical, as is this which chillingly describes the hunting elephant with bows and arrows.

Why-oh-why!? Does killing a leopard makes him feel more manly?

I hate it. I hate that any human being can consider killing a beautiful animal to be ‘sport’. I hate that individual animals are shot – sometimes by poor marksmen – and may suffer as a result. I hate it that in this selfish, land-hungry, exploitative, capitalist world one way to conserve wildlife is to offer rich people the chance to shoot it dead. Surely there are better ways?

Kudu photo: Moth Clark

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