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Response to canned hunting comments

Lion

My last posting on canned hunting was Shame On Us back in late November 2010 when the Supreme Court of Appeal handed down its long-awaited judgment in favour of the South African Predator Breeders Associationation. Since then I’ve been travelling in Botswana and on New Year’s day it was off to Mali for a two week trip that included the annual Festival au Desert bash outside Timbuktu.

For those of you that want to get involved in some way, many thanks for the sincere offers – continue to post comments on every site possible, join existing campaigns such as the Campaign Against Canned Hunting, join organizations that publicly and openly oppose these practices, IFAW, the Born Free Foundation and SANWILD for example, and write to government ministers and agencies expressing your outrage or concerns. Another extremely powerful tool, not yet deployed in any effective manner in this country, is to start boycotting organizations that either support or are sympathetic to predator breeding and canned hunting. ‘Name and shame’ campaigns are likely to become a future tool as well.

Regarding subsequent developments on the Court’s ruling, there is nothing new at this stage. The SA Predator Breeders Association has still not commented publicly, and government has not as yet filed any official response.

The issue of domestication has again been brought up by Chris and others who are concerned at the implications. In brief, the process of domesticating animals such as cattle, sheep, donkeys and cats, amongst others, occurred thousands of years ago during a period when Humankind was inextricably linked to the environment. We needed food, clothing and beasts of burden, and relied directly on them for our survival. Today, we are involved with the environment on a completely different level – we certainly do not need to be domesticating species, and especially not when it is merely to kill them for fun. To justify the breeding of wildlife for canned hunting and trading on the grounds that we did it thousands of years ago is an irrational and unrealistic argument, and it’s also morally bankrupt.

And you can add philosophical bankruptcy to that as well – we have national parks and reserves that are dedicated to protecting wildlife, not domestic life, and we have people that choose to devote their lives to the study and protection of a range of species precisely because they are wild creatures. The very word wilderness rings with all the evocative emotions that wild animals in their natural environments bring to us. For a moment, forget all the justifications and defensive pleas that breeders and hunters put forward, and stay totally focused on the precise reasons as to why they are breeding lions, and then think of what the species might end up looking like in 100 years from now – it speaks volumes about those that espouse these practices, does it not?

It also goes against the basis of conservation – that is to uphold the Convention on Biological Diversity, which means to protect the integrity of wild species and sub-species as well as the environment. Domestication involves intensive cross-breeding and inbreeding of animals. And this leads to another major objection – the conditions under which breeding occurs and the practices the breeders employ – from caging territorial animals that require space, often in squalid conditions, to removing young from mothers at a few days old.

Because there is so much more to these issues, I will be expanding on them in an upcoming edition of Africa Geographic.

Time and Tide
Ian Michler

Ian has spent the last 24 years working as a specialist guide, photo-journalist and consultant across Africa, including a stint of 13 years based in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. When not guiding, he writes predominately for Africa Geographic covering topics on conservation, wildlife management, ecotourism, and the environment, and has been writing his popular monthly column since 2001. Ian is also the author and photographer of seven natural history and travel books on Africa, and is a past winner of the bird category in the Agfa Wildlife photographic competition (1997). He has also worked as a researcher and field coordinator on various natural history television documentaries for international broadcasters and as a consultant on ecotourism to various private sector and government agencies. Prior to his life in the wilderness, he spent eight years practicing as a stockbroker in Cape Town and Johannesburg.