Pouring cold water on ‘sustainable use’

Stephen Wiggins Article, Speaking Out 15 Comments

Banner Image: African Elephant – Gary Stolz

Lion cub_george-kevin-richardson-sanctuary-950x_orig

Opinion piece by Chris Mercer  – Campaign Against Canned Hunting

This blog criticises a letter sent to the Chinese government by well-known hunting apologist Eugene Lapointe [CITES Secretary-General (1982 – 1990), now World Conservation Trust (IWMC) President].

After wrapping himself in a cloak of assumed credibility arising from previous association with international organisations such as CITES, he writes to the Chinese government asking it to resist calls for it to ban the trade in ivory. The self- important homily then proceeds to expound upon the alleged efficacy of the doctrine of ‘wise use’.

Nonetheless, he finds support for his view that elephants are merely a resource to be exploited from some African media (“China must not ban ivory trade,” The Herald, 20 November 2017):

All his tired old arguments are half-truths that can be reduced to the following syllogism:

  1. all cats have four legs
  2. my dog has four legs
  3. therefore my dog is a cat

In his philosophy, hunters are wonderful conservationists and the plight of wildlife can be laid solely at the door of shrill animal rightists in the developed world. Quoting himself:

As I stated in 2007, the beneficiaries of a complete ban on all legal ivory trade are the poachers, criminal gangs and corrupt officials who drive the illegal trade – and who the campaigners suppose they are opposing,” said Mr Lapointe. “Of course, the animal rights groups themselves raise billions of dollars through their campaigns in the United States and Europe, so a ban also satisfies their financial needs.”

Lapointe’s argument is: there was a ban; there was also a surge in poaching; ergo, the ban must have caused it.  This is a perfect example of the “my dog is a cat” syllogism. How simplistic. How childish. If only it were that simple.  No doubt he would argue that the only way to save whales is by whaling, and that any ban would merely ‘satisfy the financial needs’ of Sea Shepherd.

Actually there were many causes for the upsurge in poaching, including the rise of affluence in China and the rest of Asia, as well as the CITES – approved ivory stockpile releases in 1997, 2000 and 2008.

The truth is that saving Africa’s wildlife is a hideously complex and deep issue involving environmental, political, socio-economic, cultural and geopolitical considerations. The root of the problem lies in the reckless and irresponsible human population explosion in Africa. Unless the human population can be brought under control there is no hope for the wildlife. The uncontrolled breeding of the human population is presently overwhelming all social services such as health and education, the economy and ultimately the ecology. Poverty and unemployment are the inevitable consequence, and so is the migrant crisis in Europe.

Animal rights campaigners are not responsible for poverty and unemployment in Africa.

Here is another truth.  African governments and administrations are notoriously corrupt. Some years ago, I was travelling through a ‘protected’ wilderness area near the Zambesi river. Such marvellous wilderness – and yet there was no wildlife to be seen. We could not understand why. Then we came across the game ranger’s camp and right there, strung up on wires all around the camp, was the reason for the absence of wildlife: hundreds of pieces of meat drying in the sun to be turned into biltong and sold. Give a man like that a government vehicle, a government rifle and salary and all you are doing is equipping him to run his own private game butchery business.

The dwindling wildlife areas in Africa are precious resources which ought to be ferociously protected by governments. Alas, trees and animals do not vote and therefore get no money from patronage-dependent political structures. And into this vacuum where governance and protection should exist comes the hunting industry, trumpeting (sorry!) its conservation credentials. Game farmers point at the infrastructure they have built and the control that they exercise over their fenced – off ranches and claim righteously that they are the only defence standing between the wildlife and the rapacious poachers who would kill all the animals, whereas the hunters will only kill some of the animals. What on earth does this have to do with conservation? Domesticating wild animals and then rearing them like sheep to be slaughtered by hunters is not conservation, it is farming with alternative livestock. Farming for commercial purposes should never be confused with conservation, which is the preservation of natural functioning ecosystems for their own sakes.

Yet this totally irrelevant argument for hunting is seized upon by many role players in the conservation spectrum. Like large organisations such as WWF and politicians and bureaucrats in the United States, who are terrified of offending the hunting/NRA block vote of 4 million votes that can easily swing an election.

Hunting is an ugly, dirty, bloody business, but the proponents make it sound almost acceptable with the use of euphemisms such as:  ‘well-regulated hunting can serve as a tool of conservation’. This is Africa, for goodness sake. Name anything which is ‘well-regulated’? And now, following the flawed hunting narrative, comes the lame-stream media, desperate to infuse cultural Marxism into the conservation space. Well-known publications like Newsweek publish articles by journalists like Nina Burleigh, who attacks and seeks to discredit hard-working anti-poaching organisations like Damien Mander’s IAPF. In her philosophy, Damien is white and therefore evil, whereas the poachers that he is tackling are black and therefore innocent victims. Again, how simplistic.  How childish.  If only it were that simple.

Not to be outdone by the other threats to the survival of wildlife, here come the ivory tower academics in the UK, infusing their brand of liberal fascism into the debate. Any academic who has spent a little time in Africa doing research on this, that or the other species is suddenly an expert on conservation and Africa.  In their philosophy, the use of para-military force against poachers is morally unacceptable and repressive. Rural African communities should be proactively courted and persuaded to participate in saving wildlife. Liberal philosophy demands that it should be all carrot, and no stick. How naive. No doubt they would be much happier if Damien Mander’s game rangers were carrying flowers instead of weapons and handing them out to poachers, along with an audio-visual presentation of how important it is to preserve wildlife. Africa does not work that way and their naive liberal views merely show how little they understand Africa.

Why are so many African governments ruled or controlled by dictators? The answer is that Africans understand the concept of chieftainship. In tribal culture, the Chief is king and everything belongs to him – including your wife if he wants her. Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe repressed political dissent in Matabeleland by throwing whole villages down abandoned mineshafts. That makes him a genocidal monster – but it also helps to explain how he stayed in power for 37 years. There is a lesson there, reinforced by the fact that the African Union elected him Chairman – knowing full well his murderous history. Liberal attitudes do not fare well in Africa.

None of the existing role players in conservation understand what is required to save Africa’s vanishing wilderness. The issue is just too broad and deep – and politically charged. Until there is a human population crash, which is the only thing at the end of the day that will save the wilderness, I would suggest the following stopgap measures:

  1. all aid from the developed world to African countries should be rigidly tied to environmental compliance.
  1. the hunting fraternity should transition to turning their guns on to poachers, and to protecting the animals. The hunting fraternity is a well-armed, wealthy militia, and can serve a useful purpose if properly directed.
  1. no expense should be spared to protect remaining wilderness areas.  The money is there.  If an old da Vinci painting can fetch half a billion dollars at auction, and trillions can be created out of thin air to be thrown at zombie banks to rescue them from their own greed, do not tell me that there is no money to save the environment and the wilderness.

After that it is up to Nature. Perhaps the microbes will mutate in time to save this wonderful planet from the cruel, polluting excesses of industrial man. In the meantime let us at least have an honest debate about conservation issues without sustainable use propagandists like Eugene Lapointe hurling blame and pejorative epithets at the animal welfare community, simply because we can see that the theory always collapses in Africa to become sustained abuse.

Comments 15

  1. Gustav Venter

    I read the article hoping that there will be a modicum of sense in it, but, alas. Mercer’s “cold water” isn’t cold and isn’t wet. He is just rambling. You are doing him a disservice by carrying his article.

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      Stephen Wiggins

      I have seen praise and support coming in from conservation groups and those actually fighting poaching on the front line to Chris’s thought provoking article – so excuse me if I take those comments in preference to your own predictable negativity.

      How can I possibly be “doing him [Chris Mercer] a disservice” by publishing an article Chris wrote himself and published under his own name, on his own blog?

      As usual, your own comment(s) make no logical sense.

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          1. Gustav Venter

            Aw, come on Stephen. You’re a good egg. I always enjoy our little jousts. But really, this article is not Mercer’s finest. He is, in fact, reinforcing many of the hunting crowd’s arguments.

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          3. Gustav Venter

            Of course you don’t, but that doesn’t invalidate any of my points. You’ve taken a position and nothing that threatens that position will ever even be considered by you.
            I can suffer the tedium and trawl through Mercer’s very boring essay and point out the many fallacies in it. But boy, it really is a schlepp, and to what avail? You will never change your mind. Truth is not even a consideration.

          4. Post
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            Stephen Wiggins

            I could say exactly the same back to you. In my humble opinion, based on the pet theories you have previously espoused “You’ve taken a position and nothing that threatens that position will ever even be considered by you.” I have taken my position based upon researching scientific sources and acknowledgement of the probable risks/negatives.

            By way of example, a “Sustainable rhino horn production at the pointy end of the rhino horn trade debate” paper (due to be published December 2017, Biological Conservation, Vol 216) concludes “It’s therefore not reasonable to assume that the potential supply of rhino horn can meet potential demand” and “Further research is necessary to assess the likely outcomes of legalising trade.”

            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320716307583
            https://www.africanindy.com/news/sa-could-produce-13-356kg-of-rhino-horn-for-trade-scientists-11652077 – “In their paper, the researchers – who emphasise that this estimate provides only one piece of a large body of evidence that will be necessary to determine if legal trade is viable”

            By the way, one of the authors of this paper (highlighting the unknowns and negative risk potential) is economist Michael’t Sas-Rolfes – according to you, he is one of the “all respected researchers and who are all in favour of lifting the ban” you cited – how can Michael’t Sas-Rolfes be “100% in favour,” if he is co-authoring a paper highlighting how much is still uncertain and advocating further research to determine the likelihood of success?

            But of course, you would not be able to accept any notion of there being negative risks or there still being many negative uncertainties when it comes to the rhino horn trading issue. So forgive me, but I doubt you have any impartiality in the wider context of wildlife utilisation/exploitation.

            So, agreed – please don’t waste my (or your) time by exercising your riveting analytical insight and reverting with your own twisted notion of ‘truth’ and theories when it comes to the issue of ‘sustainable wildlife utilisation.’

          5. Gustav Venter

            “Experience from other product markets with similar demand characteristics (e.g. alcohol, drugs) suggests that in such cases bans may not only be ineffective, but even counterproductive.” Michael ‘tSas-Rolfes.
            I’ve never been of the opinion that demand for rhino horn can be dampened. The solution is to breed and protect rhinos. This is enormously expensive. There are three possible sources to find the billions needed to protect the rhino: government money, charity or rhino farmers. The farmer can only raise this amount of money if they can sell the horns. If they can’t sell it, they will run out of money, stop breeding and stop protecting the rhinos. Then it is up to the inept governments of Africa to stop the poachers. Are you going to leave the fate of the rhino in the hands of Africa’s rulers?

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            Stephen Wiggins

            But now you acknowledge (as Michael ‘tSas-Rolfes always has) that there are significant risks and unknowns with regard to ‘legal’ trade that could make a bad situation far worse? ‘Legal’ trade has no guarantees of success – it’s not the risk free panacea you (and Hume et al.) try to make it out to be.

            If rhino breeders want to breed rhino for truly altruistic purposes, then that is great. Please try to remember, no one forced these people to become rhino breeders in the first place, they did it of their own volition – some no doubt motivated by the potential profit to be made, not rhino conservation per se (it would be naïve to assume otherwise). Any such venture has overheads, which they took on at the time they started breeding rhino. How to fund true rhino conservation without resorting to exploitation and risk the survival of the given species in the wild, does not excuse seemingly desperate measures to trade and profit, potentially risking the species’ survival regardless (and the rhino breeders still get to take the profits regardless of course).

            As soon as such ‘conservation’ endeavours are turned into a business venture that risks stimulating demand and further endangering wild rhino, then the true motives have to be questioned and the likely outcomes fully explored – the race to produce animals for profit at the least cost and poor animal welfare is but one risk (as has happened with ‘canned’ lion breeding – where profiting is key and the conservation contribution is zero, if not negative).

            You have tried (as has Hume et al.) in the past to promote international rhino horn trading as a completely risk free enterprise motivated purely by altruistic intent – it is not risk free and the lack of acknowledgment of the risks leads to questions over the true motivation. That is why your stance lacks credibility upon even the merest real-world/scientific scrutiny.

            The governments in question seem to lack the will to enforce the law adequately, with rife corruption (as Chris has pointed out) and virtual complicity facilitating illicit rhino horn/poaching, plus wider social issues having their negative impact (as Chris has pointed out) – that is not an excuse to throw everything out without due consideration and basically legalise such illicit behaviour, and/or try to ‘compete’ in a non-conformist market with criminal networks for rhino horn in the vague hope of better results, which may, or may not occur (and everyone involved, except the rhino, get to profit regardless of results). Would you advocate the logic to legalise other illicit activity because some break the law and law enforcement is lacking without further scrutiny/thought?

            Rhino were turned into a commodity of ‘value’ by ‘wildlife utilisation’ in the first place – doing more of the same and hoping for better results is not a guaranteed solution!

            With regard to the ‘elephant killing helps the species’ conservation’ (sic) article by Eugene Lapointe in question which Chris Mercer has responded to (and you have questioned), where is the scientific evidence (not some theory hunting a species gives ‘value’ and protection nonsense – because that is clearly a failed ‘hunting’ PR ploy) that the killing of an estimated 81,572* African elephants as hunting trophies between 2001 – 2015 helped conserve the species somehow – and was thereby ‘sustainable utilisation’ as advocated by you and not just killing for fun and profiteering by an elite few?

            *Source: “African Mammal Trade – A Look at the African Animal and Animal Product Trade,” African Wildlife Foundation, October 2017 – http://www.awf.org/campaigns/wildlife-trade-and-seizure-maps/

            PS. With regard to prohibition of drugs, alcohol etc. – to reiterate “Any prohibition, or restricted market access to “sugar, alcohol, or cigarettes” is based upon commodities that have no read-across to the ‘utilisation’ or risk of extinction of a wildlife species. If the pro-trade advocates get their way and international trade in rhino horn is given unlimited approval, the risk is that demand can easily be stimulated to outstrip supply – and that is not an excess demand based upon a lack of sugar cane, distilled alcohol ingredients or tobacco plants, but the extinction of a wildlife species. As far as I am aware, no one has, or is currently speculating on the impending extinction of sugar, alcohol, or tobacco, but there are those speculating upon the extinction of the rhino by investing in rhino horn. So, the market forces for the ‘commodities’ cited within the Hume strategy are not comparable to rhino (or any other so threatened species).”

  2. Gustav Venter

    What is this I find in my mouth? Ah, yes, the words you have laid in it.

    You write: “But now you acknowledge (as Michael ‘tSas-Rolfes always has) that there are significant risks and unknowns with regard to ‘legal’ trade that could make a bad situation far worse? ‘Legal’ trade has no guarantees of success – it’s not the risk free panacea you (and Hume et al.) try to make it out to be.”

    Are there risks involved in lifting the ban? Sure there are. Could they “make a bad situation worse”? Sure they could. The reason there are risks is because we’re dealing with the future and nothing in the future is sure. Neither ‘tSas-Rolfes nor I can know for sure. And neither can you. We are all peering into the fog of the future trying to discern a passable route.

    But risk is relative. And the risk in lifting the ban is far, far smaller than in keeping it. In fact, from what is observable, we know of one sure way of “making a bad situation far worse” and that is to maintain the ban. It led to an alarming price increase which played into the hands of the poacher and the smuggler, making poaching immensely profitable.

    To maintain your strategy of banning rhino horn sales, you rely on the efficacy and integrity of African governments which you deem to be utterly inefficient and corrupt. You therefore admit that failure is built into the very design of your masterplan to save the rhino. How is that anything but daft?

    You are continually baying about the scientific foundation of our preferred option of lifting the ban. The fact is that economics is an academic discipline which has no use for the scientific method. Economics deals with the Aristotelean “things which can be other,” while the scientific method can only be used to understand “things which cannot be other.” Scientific reasoning, specifically deductive and inductive reasoning, cannot be applied productively to economics.

    So let’s have no more talk of “science” when we’re trying to predict the future of an economic course of action.

    We are left with observation, logic and good old common sense. These reliable guides all point to the effectiveness of legal, regulated trade in rhino horn. It certainly emphasizes the dearth of success achieved by trade bans while brilliantly highlighting the immense successes of sustainable use in contrast.

    Sustainable use, particularly the South African game-farming iteration of it, has saved a number of banner species from extinction. In fact, with this model operating freely, the application of sustainable use has not seen a single species go extinct. I will venture to say that not one species on South African game farms has seen a decrease in numbers for reasons other than economic consideration. This industry has proven time and again, over many decades, to be singularly effective in conserving wild species.

    Your post scriptum argument is a spurious one. What is debated is not the value of whatever commodity is traded or could potentially be lost, but whether demand will kill off the supply. I contend that no, demand does not have the capacity to annihilate a properly produced, renewable source of a product, valuable or worthless.

    Look, I understand if you baulk at the idea of wild animals being regarded as commodities or, in the case of the rhino, the source of a commodity. I fully understand if you detest hunting. I suggest that it is right there where the debate should be. The rest is just so much smoke and bluster.

    1. Post
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      Stephen Wiggins

      We have been over this before – you can’t advocate for a ‘legal’ market without tackling the illicit market. A ‘legal’ market also needs the “integrity of African governments “ and enforcement authorities, or it will just create parallel markets. Suggesting otherwise is daft, because it shows you possibly don’t care about the wider issues (and only the profits to be made regardless for selling rhino horn ‘legally’ and not species conservation after all). If illicit markets continue/expand even after ‘legal’ trade, it will be to the obvious detriment of wild rhinos.

      No, no one knows the future for certain (obviously) – but based on work to date (previously referenced) the balance of probabilities suggests international trade in rhino horn is not the answer to preserving the species in the wild. You have portrayed in the past, that international trade is the only answer and somehow, is guaranteed to succeed – it is not.

      You seem confused – “science” is using best available data and knowledge – including economics of course. Economics is not some standalone discipline divorced from scientific understanding!

      As debated before, ‘price’ is not the outright key to closing illicit rhino horn trafficking – the price of ivory has dropped, but that has not stopped the elephant poaching onslaught. What is to say that the incumbent criminal syndicates will not increase volume to make up for any short-fall in margins realised in rhino horn if the price drops? Economic modelling of non-conformist markets suggests that the outcomes of ‘price’ are unpredictable, but most likely will lead to profiteering, but not wild species conservation – https://iwbond.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Rhino-Horn-Harvesting-Economics_Oct-2015.pdf

      “And the risk in lifting the ban is far, far smaller than in keeping it” – that’s your opinion based on what – smoke and bluster I assume?

      Did you not read “In their paper [Oct 2017], the researchers – who emphasise that this estimate provides only one piece of a large body of evidence that will be necessary to determine if legal trade is viable?” – They (including Michael ‘tSas-Rolfes) don’t know the viability yet, but you do somehow – https://www.africanindy.com/news/sa-could-produce-13-356kg-of-rhino-horn-for-trade-scientists-11652077

      Demand killing off supply – if you are going to reference other markets/commodities, then they have to be directly comparable is the point. Comparing alcohol demand/prohibition and rhino horn demand is farcical beyond an overarching comment (which is all Michael ‘tSas-Rolfes has done). Trying to use alcohol, tobacco, sugar etc. commodities in any deep and meaningful economic modelling and reasoning for opening ‘legal’ international trade in rhino horn is a shallow delusion. Again, as Chris pointed out, you want to link a rise in poaching with a ban/prohibition – when there are many factors and complexities. It’s over simplistic to say the ban came in, poaching has arisen as a direct result (sic). The demand for rhino horn was stimulated by TCM marketing – a cure for cancer!

      Game farming – the confusion you have is when a game farming model overrides conservation considerations – the profits override any other consideration. ‘Captive’ lion breeding serves no conservation purpose whatsoever; in fact it risks wild species and encourages appalling animal welfare/exploitation. The same could happen for rhino if legal trade stimulates demand and a rush to farm and profit.

      The ‘success’ (sic) of game farming/wildlife utilisation (breeding and hunting) by your benchmark is when it doesn’t push the target species to actual extinction!? What sort of goal is that? But you are happy to take that extinction risk without full consideration when it comes to wild rhino it seems. Plus you need to explain in full how big cat farming helps wild lions and wild tiger survival (and not just profiteering)? How elephant hunting helps the species’ survival chances? How hippo hunting helps deter poaching of hippo for ivory for example? How harvesting vicuña as a good trade model (sic), did not lead to poaching that still threatens the species (and not the lie Hume has been pedalling over the history of vicuña)? Plus of course game farming is based on securing the profitable species and persecuting anything that threatens the profit margins – the same happens here for example with the grouse shooting fraternity – all prey bird species are illegally killed by game-keepers. In South Africa, it can be the persecution of leopards for example, contrived as ‘problem animals’ – https://iwbond.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Royal-Society_Population-Dynamics_17-April-2017.full_.pdf

      So, you can hide behind your smoke and bluster (it’s your prerogative of course) – or you can provide the solid, irrefutable science that says wildlife utilisation works in every application (including the proposed ‘legal’ international trade in rhino horn).

      1. Gustav Venter

        You get me wrong. I have no vested interest in hunting. I used to hunt, but haven’t for 20 years. I also don’t have a conservation blog or website. I am just interested in conservation and have an deep love for wildlife and nature. When I criticize Mercer, it is not because I am in an opposite camp, but because I want him to make sense and he doesn’t. Really, just have a look at this opinion piece of his. If you take a step back, does it really make decent sense? Or is it just random ramblings?

        He starts with, for him, the obligatory insults. Then he concocts an absolutely fallacious three-part argument which is not a proper syllogism and, falsely, ascribes it to Lapointe. A real syllogism goes A = B, C = A, therefore C = B, not Mercer’s erroneous concoction of A = B, C =B, therefore C = A.

        If a syllogism is to be distilled from Mr. Lapointe’s letter, it will be:
        A trade ban benefits poachers, criminal gangs and corrupt officials.
        The prohibition of ivory sales is a trade ban.
        Therefore the prohibition of ivory sales benefits poachers, criminal gangs and corrupt officials.

        This is a valid syllogism. Of course Mr. Lapointe must prove causality between the ban and the increase in poaching. And Mr. Mercer must prove there is no such link.

        Amidst all Mercer’s verbose clutter there is one paragraph which has some merit. “The truth is that saving Africa’s wildlife,” writes Mercer, “is a hideously complex and deep issue involving environmental, political, socio-economic, cultural and geopolitical considerations. The root of the problem lies in the reckless and irresponsible human population explosion in Africa. Unless the human population can be brought under control there is no hope for the wildlife. The uncontrolled breeding of the human population is presently overwhelming all social services such as health and education, the economy and ultimately the ecology. Poverty and unemployment are the inevitable consequence, and so is the migrant crisis in Europe.”

        Yes. Well. It follows that Mercer is adamant that hunting is not “the root of the problem.” Overpopulation, especially in black Africa, is. The stopped clock is right. And, as Mercer points out, this overpopulation causes poverty and the problem is enormously exacerbated by government corruption in Africa.

        So what is the solution?

        Game farmers offer one answer to the problem. Mercer admits this.

        “Game farmers,” he sniffs, “point at the infrastructure they have built and the control that they exercise over their fenced – off ranches and claim righteously that they are the only defence standing between the wildlife and the rapacious poachers who would kill all the animals, whereas the hunters will only kill some of the animals.”

        He clearly doesn’t like it, and that is his good right, but he also does not even attempt to show that this approach is not effective in maintaining, and where necessary, increasing the numbers of specific species.

        “What on earth does this have to do with conservation?” he thunders. “Domesticating wild animals and then rearing them like sheep to be slaughtered by hunters is not conservation, it is farming with alternative livestock. Farming for commercial purposes should never be confused with conservation, which is the preservation of natural functioning ecosystems for their own sakes.”

        Which just shows that he has no concept of the nature of game farms. And, really, is purity of heart the main requisite for conserving a species? The government official who fends off poachers but gets a salary is not a conservationist? Or the scientists of Panthera? They get paid. Well, according to the Mercer specifications, who then is a true conservationist? Jane Goodall? Oh, but she got her livelihood from looking after chimpanzees. So who, apart from Mercer, presumably, is so pure of heart that he or she qualifies as a conservationist?

        So if sustainable use is so despicable, what does Mercer propose as an alternative? It seems he pins his main hope on a microbe wiping out all of humanity apart from, one would think, the pure of heart, which would leave Chris Mercer as the only man on earth. Alternatively aid from affluent countries to Africa should be contingent on “environmental compliance.” Well, good luck with that. Sanctions have very little effect on dictators who make good money from illicit trade in wildlife products.

        Mercer also proposes letting hunters hunt poachers instead of wildlife. Can any sane person see black African governments and other states placidly applaud wealthy white hunters gunning down bedraggled black rural folk even if these were poachers? I mean!

        And then he adamantly insists that somebody stumps up the billions of dollars to take up the slack which will be left by the demise of the sustainable use model. Who is that somebody? He doesn’t say.
        He caps this nonsensical article with a line which reveals an astonishing imperviousness to irony: “In the meantime let us at least have an honest debate about conservation issues without sustainable use propagandists like Eugene Lapointe hurling blame and pejorative epithets at the animal welfare community, simply because we can see that the theory always collapses in Africa to become sustained abuse.”
        I appreciate the stance you’ve taken and also the manner in which you conduct yourself. You are much better at this than Chris Mercer. You’re not doing your position any good by posting any of his stuff.

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          Stephen Wiggins

          Sorry, I am busy writing something else….so excuse my bullet point replies:

          • Chris’s piece is an opinion piece (whether I agree with some, or all of the content is really irrelevant). The whole point of opinion pieces is to form a response, perhaps even with controversial elements, with/or without fully formed solutions/alternatives – the aim is to promote debate;

          • You favour Eugene Lapointe’s piece by making a kind association that bans aid poaching (which support your own bias towards rhino horn trading too by happy coincidence!). What has failed with the ivory trading ban, is first of all the ban being undermined by the very organisation that instilled it, ie. CITES itself! How can any organisation say there must be an ivory ban, then undermine it by releasing ivory from stockpiles? The ban did not fail, the implementation and undermining it is the failure (and this is the failure, combined with corruption and a nonchalant law enforcement effort that has allowed the poachers to flourish). It’s not the ban in principle that has failed, it’s enacting any ban with enduring enforcement that is key;

          • So, based upon the above your syllogism falls apart “A trade ban benefits poachers [unproven – enforcement and actions around any ban are key, not the ban itself in principle].” What is to say (the proof) that lifting any given ban will not increase demand and benefit poachers, especially if the enforcement of any given ban and enforcement was lacking in the first place? Your premise ‘bans benefit poachers’ is flawed and unproven – plus you need to prove that lifting a ban does not undermine enforcement and benefit poachers even more;

          • Also, Lapointe is blaming ‘animal rightist’ for all the negatives and saying they want to maintain bans purely to secure their donation income – that’s libellous (and a deplorable tactic/riposte the SAPA have tried to use too) and child like.

          • Again, if game farming is the answer and is above reproach, then you still need to explain ‘canned’ lion hunting and breeding of big cats purely for commercial purposes within SA. If you want to promote all ‘game farming ethics’ as above reproach, placing them on a pedestal and how game farming can always be relied upon, then explain ‘canned’ hunting and game farming of lions to me please. If there is to be a reliable bonanza from rhino horn breeding and horn harvesting on the horizon, how can the ethics and welfare of all ‘game farming’ of rhino (world-wide) that will result be seen as potentially good, when ‘canned’ lion farming exists within SA own borders – producing emaciated lions and poor stock welfare (https://africageographic.com/blog/photos-emerge-of-malnourished-lions-on-breeding-farm/) to maximise profits from the abhorrent lion bone trade? How can you know the same will not happen as more rhino breeders emerge (globally) with no ethics or conservation motives whatsoever? And don’t talk about regulation, it does not exist to anything like the level required (either within SA, or internationally – look at the 200 tiger farms still evident in China – https://iwbond.org/2016/04/06/chinas-wildlife-trade-is-out-of-control/)

          • Game ranching/farming – you might also want to take a look at this “The Conservation Costs of Game Ranching,” 2016, highlighting just some of the negatives – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/conl.12276/full

          • The other thing that really gets me about all of this nonsense, is none of the proposed uses of animal parts (lion bone, tiger bones, rhino horn, ivory etc…) have an actual proven efficacy or practical use to anybody. It is all derived from fraudulent claims, human vanity, greed and corruption……but you think participating in and perpetuating that fraud is a good thing (for profits)!?

          • As soon as you legitimise the nonsensical demand and gain international trading rights, what is to stop China breeding rhino at zero cost and welfare (as per crude tiger, bear bile farms etc.)? You are thinking that opening international trade in rhino horn only means ‘game farming’ rhino in SA – well, no…..it will mean animal abusers world-wide will seek to cash-in on the legitimate market you advocate for;

          • Tackling poachers – the poachers are expendable items to the criminal wildlife trafficking networks. Due to poverty and the fact others cash in on wildlife (hunting reinforces the message that wildlife is there to be used for human needs, mostly profit etc.), so there is always another poor poacher that steps into the fray. When you look at the work on the front line, it’s an armed battle. Responding with kind words is not going to deter any poacher. The issue is (and it comes back to law enforcement) is that the kingpins of the trafficking networks go untouched (the rate of convictions is appalling – look at Gwala case that has been going on for years – https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/11/wildlife-watch-rhino-poaching-trial-south-africa/ and the kingpins left untouched with SanParks rangers complicit – https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/sci-tech/2017-11-28-rangers-collaborating-with-poachers-sanparks-executive/). So, the illicit behaviour will not be tackled by eliminating poachers on the front line, they just get replaced. But in the absence of shutting down the networks at a higher level, then there is no current alternative to tackling poachers on the front line just to try and halt the wildlife attrition;

          • The alternatives to fund conservation are out there – tourism income (£13.25bn) across Africa shows hunting income is less than 2% (at $234m) in comparison – and only 3% of that hunting income trickles down to local communities – ie. where the poachers originate from. Why isn’t more diverted from general tourism income to encourage conservation and anti-poaching (hunting income only really supports an elite and always will)?

          Anyway, I am busy writing up next article…..so I will have to leave you Gustav to your private thoughts for the time being.

  3. Pingback: 2017 Review – International Wildlife Bond

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