DOES HUNTING AFRICAN BIG GAME AFFECT THE ENVIRONMENT?
May 20, 2012
questions were sent to me by a U.S. journalist on assignment in Capetown,
South Africa. Some of the questions are relevant only to that region
but most have a more universal applicability.
is your opinion about big game hunting in places like South Africa?
It is legal to hunt leopards and elephants there, which are on the endangered
an elephant or a leopard has never appealed to me, but big game hunting
is a personal choice akin to using a cell phone in a restaurant, being
a vegetarian, or smoking cigarettes. Some people decry anyone who takes
a position different from their own; others consider personal behavior,
well, personal and no one else's business. Big game hunters presumably
have their own justifications for killing such animals, as do hunters
off lesser game. Meanwhile, any country has a responsibility to monitor
the hunting and killing of all game species and determine that hunting
programs are sustainable in the long term.
big game hunting be considered good for the environment?
is good for the environment only when conducted in a sustainable fashion
so that population sizes of game animals are stable over time. This
requires keeping a diversity of natural habitats unpolluted and undisturbed,
which is in itself good for the environment and for hunters and nonhunters
alike. Hunting programs that lead to population declines from which
a game species cannot recover are bad not only for the species but also
for the environment since most game species are integral parts of the
countries, sustainable hunting programs persist because hunters make
a positive environmental impact, contributing to habitat improvement
and protection through taxation and other fees. In the United States,
licenses, guns, ammunition, and access to hunting areas generate revenue
for federal and state governments. Proceeds from hunting expenditures
are used to enhance wildlife habitats and to manage and maintain parks
and wildlife refuges. Some funds are directed toward conducting surveys
and research to determine the population status of game species and
sometimes even nongame species. So, hunters can definitely benefit natural
environments. In South Africa, safari hunts provide revenue for a variety
of enterprises, including hunting guides, outfitters, lodges, taxidermists,
and travel agents. Such expenditures boost local economies and can lead
to public support of programs that maintain healthy habitats.
kind of conservation efforts are common in the international hunting
most obvious wildlife management effort that affects the hunting community
in any country is tracking population status of game animals to determine
acceptable hunting quotas for each species each year. In addition, habitats
in a given area are usually managed in a way that will help ensure positive
impacts on the majority of native species, game as well as nongame.
Another wildlife management component that applies to many big game
species is that habitat conservation can be greatly enhanced by organizations
that focus on selected species and collect funds to manage habitats
in order to protect hunting sites, which can involve vast natural areas.
Q. Do you
find validity in antihunting arguments about leaving nature alone?
nature alone" is a concept that would be dead on arrival in most
parts of today's world. We may not like it, but virtually every habitat
on the planet has been affected by human activity. A hands-off-nature
approach may be feasible for preserving a reasonably intact ecosystem,
but most antihunting arguments focus on individual animal rights and
not the broader issues of population stability, species persistence,
or habitat quality. Some animal rights advocates even support letting
a species go extinct rather than having populations maintained primarily
for hunting. The paradoxical reality in America is that funding for
maintenance of ecosystem integrity often comes from hunters. Similar
positive environmental returns can result from big game hunting when
the host country strives to maintain populations at sustainable levels
and to keep native habitats intact.
you have an environmental question or comment, email