Theodore Roosevelt IV explains the crucial role played by hunting in animal conservation.
Cecil the Lion died during an illegal hunt in Zimbabwe, and that country is taking action to prosecute the wrongdoers and improve the implementation of its game laws. Why? It was the money that hunting brings into that trackless economy that funded the very park which kept Cecil safe for most of his life.
For my urban friends in New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, trophy hunting is inconceivable and signing petitions to ban it seems like the very least they can do. It is the very least, and the very worst. Conservation does not advance anywhere without ensuring the well-being and support of the people closest to the resource.
Hunting is the necessary incentive that allows private landowners to expand territory for these animals beyond the limited acreage of national parks; it is the money that pays the salaries of the Africans on anti-poaching brigades; it is the money that compensates villagers for lost livestock in countries where rural hunger is a fact of life.
No species in modern times has been driven to extinction by sport hunting. With an unsustainable population growth rate in Africa for most species of 10 percent, hunting reduces that number by 2 percent.
Ecotourism does not replace hunting. Photo safaris are concentrated in national parks where there is a diversity of species; where there are lodges, roads or tracks, swimming pools, easier access, and most importantly, safety. Hunters support animal conservation where few others would venture.
Africans whom I know are incensed by the public outcry over Cecil, when there is no outcry about young children in Africa killed by lions, no outcry about the starvation still so prevalent, no outcry about the joblessness or hardship. It is for sovereign African nations to make and enforce their own game laws. Most do this voluntarily under the auspices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international organization.
Furthermore, Africans are following the North American model here. Hunting â€” including trophy hunting â€” was the wellspring for our own conservation and continues to be an important source of revenue for it.
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