Chris Mercer’s (CACH) address at the Global March for Lions, Cape Town, 2 April 2016
Let’s talk about hunting as a form of entertainment. Hunters intrude in to a natural environment in order to inflict suffering and death upon helpless animals – for fun.
1. They claim to be doing it for conservation. They lie. They do it for entertainment; because they enjoy stalking and killing. True conservation means protecting animals, not killing them.
2. They claim that hunting is the only way to save Africa’s wildlife. They lie. That is like arguing that the only way to save whales is by whaling.
3. They claim that hunting creates jobs. They lie. Hunting causes rural unemployment. When land is taken out of agricultural production in order to provide entertainment, jobs are lost. Ten thousand farms now provide entertainment, not food. Partly due to this change in land use, the rural labour force has dropped from 1,6 million to just over 600,000. SA has lost a million jobs in the rural economy.
4. They claim to bring billions of dollars in to the country. Again, look at the whole Balance Sheet on land use to see how misleading this claim is. Bring to account the loss of forex caused by the change from agriculture to entertainment. Last year, SA produced 4 million kgs less wool for export, owing to the change in land use. And that is just wool!
5. Hunters claim to have increased wildlife numbers from the point where some species (like rhino) were at risk of extinction. They lie. First, it was the hunting fraternity itself that wiped out our wildlife, bringing game numbers to an alarming low point. So now the hunters want credit for saving animals from themselves. A typical extortion racket!
6. No, this is the true story. Having all but wiped out our wildlife in the wild, the hunters had to turn to captive breeding on fenced game farms in order to provide a constant supply of living targets for their entertainment. Those animals may look wild but they are not. They have become livestock, being bred like sheep or cattle for slaughter. The hunters have taken the ‘wild’ out of our wildlife.
7. These animals no longer evolve against other species as they would in a natural functioning eco-system. They are being farmed as alternative livestock. And boasting about the increase in the numbers of fenced-in, captive-bred animals is as silly as boasting about the increased numbers of prisoners in SA prisons; as if that proves that we are a healthier society.
We know from studies published by IUCN that hunting is a wasteful use of land. Vast tracts of national land – about 20% – are set aside to provide entertainment, mostly for wealthy foreigners.
Is this a necessary – or even desirable – land use?
So who is ignorant enough to swallow hunting propaganda hook, line and sinker?
Why, the SA government, of course. Edna Molewa (South African Minister for Environmental Affairs) and SA conservation structures all support hunting as if it were a tool of conservation, and not a major threat to it.
Any intelligent person can see that hunting is to conservation what pornography is to art – a ghastly parody of the real thing.
And claiming that the only way to save our wildlife heritage is to kill majestic animals is as crazy as arguing that the only way to save art is by destroying the Mona Lisa.