Posts Tagged ‘hunting’

The parable of the huntress and the trolls

huntress-and-prey

A modern day Artemis runs into a spot of bother

Bamm! And as quick as that it was all over for the lion. It was only just getting started for the self-proclaimed “huntress” though, as the hunter became the hunted.

Honestly, I tried to ignore this storm in a teacup when it hit my news feed. I mean on what basis was it not a dog-bites-man kind of story? The only discernible reason was that our animal-hating anti-heroine was made even more obnoxious by the triple sins of being American, a woman and kind-of-attractive in that rugged American way that makes some men nervous. Shame on her! But all that ridiculous out-pouring of misogyny is much better dismissed here.

However, there was another kind of hypocrisy also being practised. Quite simply were it not for people like Melissa Bachman, that lion she shot may never had a chance to live in the first place. Though I would hate to pull the trigger myself, and doubt I would particularly enjoy Ms Bachman’s company, the high license fees paid by big game hunters are an extremely effective and pragmatic conservation solution in southern Africa. Given that market-based solutions are usually much cheaper than the alternatives, I hope all those armchair critics are prepared to open up their wallets in a big way if they want to ban such trophy hunting for the sake of the lions. I also hope they are life long vegetarians.

Not true? Well maybe best you shove that supercilious moral superiority away where it belongs with the misogyny.

Update 22/11/13: So upon reflection, the temptation of a nice turn of phrase may have gotten the better of me there, and some readers may be forgiven for pondering whether “that supercilious moral superiority” might not also apply to a certain blogger. In which case I would have to plead “Fair cop!” Sometimes the immediacy of blogging gets the better of one. But there we go. This post has already been read by over 100 people, so it’s a bit late to take those words back. At least all those internet trolls out there should be used to the abuse: if you dish it out then you should be prepared to cop some in return.

Killing cuddly animals update

A quick follow-up to my post at the beginning of the year over the controversy surrounding the proposal to ban the hunting of polar bears. It appears that scientific sense and respect for indigenous cultures have prevailed over blind love for cute (on TV) animals: CITES have refused to pass a ban on hunting polar bears. My heart still weeps for the polar bears’ fate, but if we want to change that, then we need to tackle global climate change. Anything else is just a distraction; a chance to feel good whilst accomplishing nothing of lasting benefit.

No killing cuddly animals (even if they’re not cuddly)!

Polar bears made, I suppose, an appropriately seasonal topic for this article on the BBC news website that appeared on Christmas Day. Except that the contents were actually pretty grisly and touched upon a central tension of the conservation movement.

At question was what is driving polar bears to extinction. Is it climate change, hunting or both. WWF claim the main driver is climate change. The Humane Society say it is a combination, and that hunting will deliver the coup de grâce. They may be technically right, but, without, I confess, having actually examined the science, I would be inclined to trust WWF, IUCN and Traffic, when they suggest that hunting is little more than a side show and that climate change will likely cause the extinction of polar bears in the wild regardless of hunting pressure.

Quite apart from the likelihood that the big guns have got their science right, my suspicion is aroused by the name of the disputants. If the Humane Society are concerned that the hunting of polar bears is inhumane they should say so, and preferably put it in context by comparing it with, say, the trauma that livestock experience at a typical abattoir. But when they start arguing the toss over biodiversity losses with the experts you have to wonder at their motivation.

Mike Shanahan touched upon the same problem in his confession that he once ate shark fin soup. We are back at the same question of “What is conservation for?” that I tackled in my series last year on the Sakhalin whales.

I suppose in some ways it is a good thing that urbanites consciences should these days extend to the killing of animals previously seen as dangerous predators. But there surely is a limit to this inter-species empathy; I bet few such urbanites would hesitate to call a pest control company if they experienced a sudden rat infestation. And the romantic fantasising about the fierce world of the top predator is as nonsensical as the Victorian myth of the noble savage. We should respect other cultures and other species regardless of their apparent nobility or lack thereof.

The fact is that we find the lives of these charismatic species inspiring. The soaring flight of an eagle will always have considerably more emotive power than the domestic fluttering of a sparrow (unless there are chicks involved). Moreover these emotive connections are what first drew all of us in; nobody was inspired to be a conservationist by biodiversity loss statistics. So we should harness these stories.

But conservation policy and practice is best if it is science-driven. What good is saving a polar bear from a hunter’s bullet only for it to die of starvation as its arctic habitat disappears? The bullet might be the kinder way to go; something the Humane Society might wish to reflect upon.

I still (probably naively) harbour hope that humanity will get its act together to stave off catastrophic climate change, and thereby save the polar bears and many other species from extinction. A ban on hunting polar bears would be the equivalent of worrying about whether you made the bed while the house burns down.

Whither whaling – is it just morally wrong?

If you are coming to this blog new before you read this and following posts please consider reading my previous one and voting in the poll.

In considering the question of the morality of whaling it depends first upon why you are hunting. Although not exactly a pressing conservation problem, I supported the ban on fox hunting which the previous UK government introduced because I think hunting for fun is barbaric, and has no place in a civilised society. On the other hand it has to be said that licensed hunting of big trophy mammals (elephants, lions etc.) in southern and eastern Africa has proven a big conservation success due to the extremely high fees that hunters are prepared to pay. Although I would hate to pull the trigger myself, I very much support this as a pragmatic solution to biodiversity conservation and habitat protection, for without the funds these hunters pay the large mammals would just be hunted and chased away by farmers, and the habitat degraded if not destroyed.

In the past a major incentive for whaling was the oils and fats that could be harvested from their bodies. However, since the advent of better synthetic replacements derived from petrochemicals, most whaling is done for food (discounting the pseudo-scientific hunting practiced by Japan to get around the current moratorium). So anyone who voted for this option had better be a vegetarian or they are a complete hypocrite. I eat meat so ultimately cannot agree with this position, although I do admire people prepared to live their ideals in this regard.

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