So my opinion, for what little it counts, on Melissa Bachman, the Open Letter on MyCityByNight.co.za (here) the Facebook Hate Page (here) and Twitter #MelissaBachman feud. If you’d like a interactive visualisation of the Twitter conversation I’ve set it up here. Drag, filter, replay and search.
To kick off, I’m in no way if favour of hunting and would be completely incapable of shooting an animal. However, morally there is little difference between professional hunting and the killing of any other farmed animal. Hunting in SA is a 6.2 billion rand a year industry in South Africa employing thousands of people. There is no difference between it and any form of farming. Animals are bread sustainably, endangered species are not hunted on theses farms. The animals are raised and kept in better conditions than any cattle, chicken, pig or any other animals mass produced on farms.
The sports hunters are professionals and accompanied by professionals from the farms. Arguably they suffer less than a cow at a slaughter house being shot with a metal pin or a chicken getting it’s head sawed off on a production line where in it’s whole life it never saw the light of day. The carcasses are processed, meat is not waisted, between the taxidermy and what happens with the rest of the carcass less of the animal is wasted than a cow raised at a feed lot and killed at a slaughterhouse, that animal never even sees green grass yet we feel no guilt buying it in the store.
Making the hunting of animals illegal leads to the very situation we are dealing with currently when it comes to rhino horns. Regulating and legalizing the sale of these products only leads to more control and better conditions.
Two or three days ago, Princess Anne as the president of the World Horse Welfare society argued for the sales of horse meat would greatly improve the living standards of horses and save thousands of neglected horses. The RSPCA agrees that the humane slaughter of horses could achieve this. In South Africa we are living proof that the legal hunting of wild animals of reserves leads to greater number, better conditions and the preservation of animals that would no doubt be on the verge or already extinct if they were not worth such vast amounts of money being farmed for hunting. Many of these farms would not be around if it were not for hunting. They get their revenue from that and would not exists if they could not charge for hunting and trophies but only a game drive or two. There are many successful reserves that do survive merely on tourism revenue, but that pales in comparison to farms that breed game for hunting etc, many parks buy their animals from farms like this. And many game farms where hunting takes place take the overflow from parks like the Kruger Park, where for example many animals are culled each year to control their numbers with exactly the same gun a hunter takes his trophy down with.
It is an industry that is part of our regular agricultural industry, but also one that play a very large role in conservation in South Africa, plays a massive role in our economy and by extension in the lives of many people in this country. It is also a industry that is completely legal , highly regulated and one that preserves the numbers of animals instead of brining it down. I grew up on a farm, and while it was dairy with cows spending their lives in green pastures I can attest to the conditions on feed lot farms where our beef products etc come from, an animals on a hunting farms lives a much better life, needs to in optimal condition to justify the price on it’s head and more than not hardly feels the pain a animals feels when it does to end up on a supermarket shelf.
[EDIT] - My response to a Facebook comment about lions not being eaten and my argument being invalid as non-hunting lodges produce just as much animals, jobs and money.
“The lion is still processes. In terms of the 10,000 odd reserves in South Africa 75 percent of revenue is raised from hunting. Lions can go from anywhere between $20 000 and sometimes $30 000 dollars. The industry, the 10 000 lodges, provide jobs for about 140,000 people in the country, most of them are paid with the 75% revenue derived from hunting. So while a few farms derive no revue and do produce animals like those hunting, the hunting industry provides the bulk of animals reared in SA. So, 25% is eco tourism and is suggested that the hunting numbers are actually underestimated. Without hunting around there is no wildlife industry.”