HomeOpinionDiscontinue trophy hunting imports ban to save wildlife

Discontinue trophy hunting imports ban to save wildlife

Emmanuel Koro Journalist
A LEADING Sadc Safari hunting company that has so far spent over US$3 million to support wildlife conservation and socio-economic development in Tanzania has appealed to the British government to discontinue the trophy hunting imports ban Bill because it will harm African people and wildlife.

“Does the UK government really want to destroy those human lives, let alone the wildlife in these conservancies?” said Robin Hurt of Robin Hurt Safaris, in his appeal asking the British government to stop the wildlife-harming trophy hunting imports ban Bill.  “Safari hunting is a legal and much-valued industry in African countries that allow it, including Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, South Africa and Mozambique. Namibia alone has over 80 community wildlife conservation projects, all managed by indigenous peoples; that depend 100% on safari hunting revenue.”

Hurt’s appeal comes ahead of the March 18 British parliamentarians’ vote on the  second reading of  the animal rights groups fundraising industry-sponsored private members’ Bill to ban trophy hunting imports into the UK, including Africa’s Big Five [elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo]. Hurt has, like other safari Hunting companies operating in Africa, continued to use international hunting revenue to support wildlife and habitat conservation, including socioeconomic development in hunting communities.

“I chose to support wildlife and habitat conservation, anti-poaching as well as socio-economic development in Tanzania’s hunting communities where we operate,” he said. “Since  2006 we have built 37 schools, 75 teachers houses, 28 medical dispensaries, 34 village government offices, 19 wells and water pumps, nine water storage tanks and five water pipelines.”

Born in Britain, Hurt who celebrates his 59th  season as a full-time professional hunter this year and also his 77th birthday has lived his whole life in Africa. Although he has British blood in his veins, he is “African at heart” and considers himself African.  Robin Hurt Safaris Tanzania is now being run and managed by his sons, Derek and Roger Hurt.

“My sons are both professional hunters who continue enthusiastically with my conservation ideals,” said Hurt.

The Robin Hurt Safaris supports key wildlife and habitat conservation as well as community socio-economic projects that include anti-poaching activities such as the collection of steel snares, supporting community game guards, building classrooms, community health programme, beekeeping, village community banks and education improvement activities. Hurt said that one of the most important parts of “our anti-poaching efforts is the removal and destruction” of steel snare lines.

“These snares are hugely destructive to wildlife numbers,” he said. “Although the snares are set to catch buffalo and antelope, numerous predators get killed as well. Additionally, elephants and rhinos occasionally get maimed by these snares. We estimate that each snare kills an average of five animals annually. Since 1986 we have destroyed approximately 60 000 snares. This has saved the lives of approximately 300 000 animals.”

“Robin Hurt, who in my long years in conservation, is probably the single most committed conservationist I know,” said Wilfried Pabst a German who operates in Zimbabwe’s Sango Conservancy and who has made an immense contribution to wildlife conservation that includes the translocation of 100 elephants using his personal finances.

If implemented, the proposed British government trophy imports hunting ban Bill would destroy not only the wildlife and habitat conservation gains that Hurt has supported for the past 59 years as a professional hunter; but would also crush the socio-economic development hopes of African hunting communities.

“This ban is an ‘excellent’ idea if destroying our wildlife is what the UK government has in mind”, said Pabst who warns the British government that “it is a form of neo-colonialism” if it proceeds with the Bill without conducting site visits to African hunting communities and also without consulting African politicians, chiefs, rural councils and the local population.

Meanwhile,  over 100 leading wildlife scientists and conservationists worldwide, this month wrote an open letter to the British government warning it against introducing the trophy imports ban Bill because it takes away both the revenue and incentives to conserve African wildlife.

“Although supporters of trophy hunting import bans claim such legislation will save African animals, these bans will ultimately achieve the exact opposite, resulting in unprecedented rates of habitat loss, with consequent wildlife depletion,” said President of African Professional Hunters Association, Mike Angelides.

Cites allows the hunting of all wildlife, including endangered wildlife, as long as it’s not harmful to the hunted population and acknowledges hunting as a necessary wildlife management tool. Hunting doesn’t have a detrimental impact on wildlife, as only 0,5-3% of the population is hunted.

Koro is a Johannesburg-based international award-winning independent environmental journalist who writes and has written extensively on environment and development issues in Africa.

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