From my Hide: Mainly bad news, but some good too…

David Holt-Biddle.

THERE has been a slew of news about conservation, conservationists and hunters over the past few days. In Kenya, the Kenyan Wildlife Service is very concerned about a declaration by the Trump administration in the United States that it is going to severely cut funding conservation efforts in Africa.

In Kenya, American funding has for years helped to support anti-poaching programmes, particularly those aimed at elephant poaching.

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In Tanzania, the head of a leading conservation NGO, Wayne Lotter of the PAMS Foundation, has been shot and killed outside Dar es Salaam.

The foundation provides anti-poaching support in Africa, and since opening up in Tanzania in 2009, Lotter has been receiving death threats.

In Namibia, an Argentinian hunter, Jose Monzalvez, has been trampled to death by an elephant he was tracking on a game farm north of Windhoek.

Two South Africans, both owners of canned hunting operations here, have been killed while on hunts in Zimbabwe.

Scott van Zyl was killed by a crocodile he was hunting and Theunis Botha was trampled to death by an elephant when his party disturbed a breeding herd.

Reports from the United States say there are now more than 1000 fully licensed and legal game ranches or wildlife farms across America specialising in so-called canned hunts.

The reports say that clients pay for a guaranteed ‘hunt’, which is normally from a safe blind or hide, or a vehicle or even via the Internet, and the ‘trophy’ is baited or even drugged.

The Internet ‘hunt’ means that the client, wherever he is and in the safety of his home, is connected via the Internet to a camera and a mobile, mounted gun from which he is able to ‘hunt’ his trophy. The animals which may be shot include plains game like zebra and various species of antelope and even lion.

The worst news is perhaps that many endangered or threatened species are on the list of available trophies, including the red lechwe (found only in the Okavango Delta in Botswana and adjoining territory), the Arabian oryx (extinct in the wild except for small re-introduced herds in Saudi Arabia and Oman), Elb’s deer (South East Asia), and the most popular trophy, apparently, the Barasingha or swamp deer (extinct throughout most of its former territory and now found in the wild only in isolated herds in India and Nepal).

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Hunting in the United States is a tradition that goes back to early settler times, but that is legal and ethical hunting.

The hunting fraternity is vehemently opposed to the concept of canned hunts, referring to such clients as shooters and definitely not hunters and is openly campaigning against the industry.

Interestingly there is still a considerabe number of people who need to hunt for the pot in the United States.

And finally some better news, the authorities in British Columbia, Canada, have banned the trophy hunting of grizzly bears. There are about 15,000 grizzlies in BC and some 250 are shot by hunters every year. The ban is the culmination of a long campaign by conservationists.

Sources: Save the Elephants News Service, Care2Causes, the New Encyclopedia of Mammals (Oxford University Press) and the Internet.

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DAVID HOLT-BIDDLE

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From my Hide: There’s bad news … and some good