Africa’s Wildlife Armageddon (2)

Africa’s final battle to save its wildlife and its national parks.

In Part 1 of this series, I suggested that the biggest danger to Africa’s wildlife was its human population explosion – with the current c.650 million people living in Africa south of the Sahara Desert expected to explode to 4 billion by the end of this century (UN statistics).

The danger to wildlife from this hugely expanded human population – which is expected to develop over the next 85 years – is the prospect for hugely expanded levels of poverty and unemployment; when, in the current era, poverty and unemployment are the two biggest forces driving both commercial and subsistence poaching.

The best way to provide enough jobs, and to so reduce poverty and unemployment in the general human population by the year 2100, is for Africa to industrialize; but, in this regard, Africa is up against the international condemnation of coal burning power stations – which denunciation I believe to be invalid. This was discussed at length in the previous essay in this series.

If we focus on the state of wildlife and our national parks, there is another (equally important) regional solution that we can apply. To save Africa’s wildlife and its national parks into posterity, we need to create conditions whereby the rural African communities surrounding our national parks gain significant (survival) benefits from the judicious and sustainable utilization of the wild animal resources that live inside the national parks.

We need to generate benefits that are so good the people won’t want to do without them. This will give them an emotional ownership over their national parks and their wild animals. They will then do everything in their power to protect the resources that are benefitting them. Today those neighbour rural communities succour the poachers. By 2100, if we start to change direction NOW, we can make those same people the national park’s greatest custodians.

No matter what living resource you are talking about – be it, fish, cattle, sheep, seals, rhinos or elephants – the people whose livelihoods depend upon their proper and sustainable harvest, are those who are the most concerned about their proper management. They are the people who will go the extra mile to ensure their safety.

Civil servants of whatever category – even if they are living and working in a national park – get a government salary cheque (and other benefits) at the end of every month – whether they do a good job or not. They may, for example, elect to spend their days watching wildlife die because a wild fire has wiped out their grazing – and they may not lift a finger to arrange emergency food supplies that would save them, because it doesn’t really matter to them if the animals live or die. They will still get the same salary cheque (and the same benefits) at the end of the month no matter how they perform in such an emergency. The man who owns the animals that will die if they don’t receive an emergency food supply, on the other hand – and whose income depends upon the proper management of those animals – will break his back to make sure those animals do NOT die.

Actual ownership (of some kind) makes this kind of difference.

THIS is the ownership syndrome we need to inculcate into the rural communities that surround our national parks. And although they may not legally own the animals in the national park, if the people gain significant enough survival benefits from their sustainable harvest, they will still generate an emotional ownership over them. And THAT is all we need to achieve. Those people will then not themselves poach the animals in the national park; and they will not support other people (who come from afar) to poach them either. And THAT achievement will save our wildlife, and our national parks, into posterity, even on a continent that will soon be brim full of people.

Many people will be horrified by the idea of harvesting (and hunting) game animals in a national park but if, by the judicious and sustainable harvest of an abundant and perfectly renewable natural resource, we can save animal species from extinction, maintain the park’s species diversity, and protect the viability of the park’s entire ecosystem, that – in my book – is infinitely preferable to the alternative. If we do not effect such a meaningful change in our national park administration – soon – I will predict the alternative… that we will lose everything long before the end of this century.

And such harvesting will NOT adversely affect eco-tourism.

This brings us right back to the self-styled International Conservation Community that I made mention of in Volume 1. I called this group “The biggest bunch of rogues in the world because it comprises animal rights groups whose raison d’etre is to ABOLISH animal use programmes (including man’s management of wild animals)”. And I concluded that: “They represent the next most important death knell for Africa’s wildlife.” This needs greater exposure and a more thorough explanation.

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In 1980, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) published its mission statement which it called The World Conservation Strategy (WCS). This document (for a time) became the guiding principle for modern wildlife management policies. And when it was published all responsible sovereign states, who were members of the IUCN at that time, obligated themselves to model their NATIONAL Conservation Strategies (NCSs) on the WCS template; and to write the provisions of their NCS’s into their national law books. Through this procedure – and ONLY through this procedure – did the WCS obtain its legal teeth.

Within the WCS document is a section which the IUCN calls living resource conservation: It has three objectives (in brief):

  • To maintain essential ecological processes and life-support systems;
  • To preserve genetic diversity (that is, species must not be rendered extinct); and
  • To ensure the sustainable utilisation of species and ecosystems (notably fish and other wildlife, forests and grazing lands) which support millions of rural communities as well as major industries.

The achievement of these three objectives – which will result in man living in symbiotic harmony with the natural world forever – was (in 1980) heralded, by every clear thinking person, as representing the Blue Print for Mankind’s Survival on Planet Earth. So the publication of the WCS was not taken lightly by world society.

The WCS is, in fact, the linchpin on which a great deal of modern wildlife management philosophies and practices are based. It is, therefore, a major component of our modern intellectual foundation. I am going to use the WCS now to clarify my poor opinion of the animal rights orientated International Conservation Community, their ilk, and their fellow travellers.

I wonder how many readers know the difference between animal rights and animal welfare? Many people in society believe they are one and the same thing. Many SPCA branches in South Africa, for example, certainly believe that to be the case.   But they are wrong.   And the bigger animal rights NGOs agree with me. It is VITALLY important that everybody knows the difference.

The cornerstone objective of the animal rights doctrine is to ABOLISH all animal uses by man; and I mean ALL uses: no raising of domesticated animals (of any kind) for human consumption; no abattoirs; no sales of animal products (even hens’ eggs) in supermarkets; no recreational horse riding; no horse-racing; no keeping or breeding of pet animals; no police dogs; no use of horses, mules, donkeys or oxen to pull carts or ploughs; no recreational angling or commercial fishing; no confining of wild animals to any kind of restrictive enclosure; no wildlife management practices of any kind; no hunting; no sale of wild animals or their products; no use of furs or animal skins and leathers in man’s clothing or housing; no eating of poultry, meat or fish; animals should be possessed by no one nor sold (or bought) by anyone; no weekend barbecues; and a whole lot more.   Animal rightists, therefore, can be identified as being people who repudiate the objectives of the WCS; that reject the concept of the WCS being a Blue Print for Mankind’s Survival on Planet Earth; and that are particularly antagonistic towards the WCS Objective Number 3. This makes them, inter alia, virulently anti-social!

         Animal rightists cannot achieve their objectives without violating the legitimate rights of other

         people; and the animal rights doctrine is TOTALLY incompatible with science-based wildlife

         management. Ipso facto, there is no place for the animal rightist within any responsible

         human society.     

True Animal Welfare people, on the other hand, accept the legitimacy of all three of the above stated WCS objectives – but with provisos. They state that when man uses a live animal to obtain benefits – like when he rides a horse or ploughs a field with an ox – such use must be humane; and that when he has to kill an animal to obtain benefits – like when he slaughters an ox to obtain its meat for human consumption – the killing process should be without cruelty.

         In effect, animal welfare people oversee man’s civilised standards when it comes to

         his treatment of animals – so they should be welcomed into all human societies.

The animal rightists’ opinion of the animal welfare NGOs is not very good. They believe that, because animal welfare people REGULATE man’s use of animals, they give credibility and legitimacy to the practices of animal uses within society; and THAT fact generates social resistance to the animal rightists achieving their own prime objective – which is to ABOLISH all animal uses by man.

This explanation will, hopefully, provide readers with a better understanding regarding my disapproval of the self-styled International Conservation Community.   Its members all have animal rightist tendencies, so society should really start to question just what their purpose in life really is; and society needs, also, to question the benefits that they purport to bring to the animal kingdom.

Animal rightists are past masters at hoodwinking the public. They will, for example, create a great emotional furore within the (detached from nature and highly urbanised) public domain in the big cities of the First World, about issues such as elephant hunting or the harvest of seals, in order to gain public support. They never, however, reveal their total agenda because they know that if the man-in-the-street really understood what it was – the abolition of ALL animal uses by man (including the keeping of pets) – he would withdraw all his financial support. For the animal rightist, it is all about money! The animal rights doctrine, in my view, therefore, is the foundation for the biggest confidence industry the world has ever known!

So the International Conservation Community is not good news. And when this community has face-to-face talks with the likes of Hilary Clinton (2013) – on the subject of protecting Africa’s so-called endangered elephant – they become downright dangerous. Their attitude – in typical animal rights fashion – is that all elephants should have total protection; that no elephant population reduction management, culling or hunting should ever take place; and that all trade in live elephants, elephant products and elephant ivory should be banned. And Hilary Clinton has pledged the financial might of the Clinton Foundation to help them achieve those goals.

         The African elephant, as a species is NOT endangered – and it has never been!

Hilary Clinton, of course, has her sights set on becoming the next president of the United States. If she achieves that goal – God help Africa, its people, its national parks and its wildlife!

These decisions – please note – are being made by people living OUTSIDE Africa; who don’t understand the African situation vis-à-vis the constantly changing relationships of Africa’s people and Africa’s wild animals; who don’t know the facts about elephants in Africa; and who have absolutely no idea about (or interest in) the principles and practices of wildlife management.   They are also dogmatically opposed to the whole idea of integrating the needs of Africa’s people and the needs of Africa’s National Parks (and wildlife). So, if any country in Africa wishes to implement an exploratory and people-integrated wildlife management programme of any kind, they will be blocked all the way by the International Conservation Community – and by U.S. government machinery.

It is no coincidence that immediately following Clinton’s talks with the International Conservation Community, the US Fish & Wild Life Service (F&WLS) banned the importation of elephant trophies to America from Tanzania and Zimbabwe with – at their own admission – no scientific data to back their action. AND they introduced Draconian new laws to regulate the possession and movement of ivory in America.

Clinton is already manipulating the American administration. She is already going all out for votes in the up-and-coming American presidential campaign. And she is pulling all the strings she has at her fingertips – to gain the support of anyone and everyone that she believes might help her gain her cherished appointment. And Africa’s wildlife and its people, within this political conundrum, have become expendable pawns.

Anyone who believes this to be untrue is being naïve!

Beware, Africa… of the American monster that is rising to destroy any and all hope that this continent will ever be able to solve its own wildlife management problems. Once again, Africa will be expected to do as it is told – and if it doesn’t, Africa will have to bear the consequences of American imposed trade and political sanctions. Gunboat diplomacy! That is how the cookie has crumbled since the mid 1980s; and that is how our American wildlife management opponents expect to control Africa into the future.

Somewhere… Sometime…. Africa is going to have to find the pride and the courage to stand up on its own two feet! May that day come sooner rather than later!

There is a lot more to this conundrum than meets the eye. To understand America’s intransigence in these matters we have to understand, also, the conflicts of sub-cultures that exist between America and (at least) southern Africa. And we must also understand the power that a nation’s various sub-cultures have on the behaviour of its people.

Every sovereign nation on earth has its own national culture; and each national culture is comprised of a host of sub-cultures. These sub-cultures include – inter alia: language; dress; social manners and behaviour; religion; music and dance; building designs; sport; military matters; agriculture; fishing; education; legal matters; political structures; government administration structures; financial structures; international relations; and a whole lot more. These sub-cultures evolved over a very long period of time, and they have developed particular shapes and sizes – like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle – and they all fit together to create the national cultural whole. None of these sub-cultures can function properly unless they mesh together into the national cultural whole. You cannot, therefore, take one of America’s sub-cultures and force it upon South Africa because it won’t fit into the picture-puzzle that comprises the South African national culture.

Sub-cultures are ingrained into the psyches of children from the time they first become cognizant of their surroundings.   From a very early age young people absorb the cultural realities of their environment; they speak their parent’s language (and dialect); they go to school – where they are taught about their cultural heritage; they wear the same clothes that other children wear; they go to church with their parents – and listen to what the priest has to say; they see and hear ordinary people every day of their lives – living, talking and enacting all sorts of matters to do with their cultural upbringing. And by the time they are adult their acceptance of their various sub-cultures is indelibly imprinted on their souls.

A motto of the Jesuits is: “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” So when a boy (in any country) becomes a man, he will find it almost impossible to shrug off the inculcated sub-cultures which he has absorbed from the social ambience within which he was reared. Children, therefore, are subtly brainwashed with regards to their sub-cultures.

A man of my ken once said to me: “Even if you bring to me absolute concrete evidence that God does NOT exist, I will continue to believe in Him – not because he DOES exist but because I have been taught since I was a child that he does.”

So a person’s wildlife sub-culture is very important to him. It is part of his psych. It is part of his being. It is indelibly imprinted on his soul. And all his other sub-cultures carry equal weight.

Try, for example, to get an Arab to discard his Islamic faith and become a Jew or a Christian. Try to get a strict Saudi Arabian father to allow his sixteen-year daughter to wear a bikini on the beach. Try to get a dedicated Catholic to become a Protestant. Few of these changes are likely to happen.

Likewise: Try to get a died-in-the-wool American to accept – within his soul – the validity of the wildlife sub-cultures of the states of southern Africa!!!!!!!

Now we are getting down to the nitty-gritty of this exposé!   The American wildlife sub-culture can be categorised very easily. It is, in a nutshell, Anti-market hunting. And that fact is written into the statute books of the American legal system. Simply put: It is illegal to make money out of America’s indigenous wildlife. You can buy a license to shoot a White-tailed Deer or a Canada Goose, and you can give the venison or the goose carcass away to anybody you like, but you cannot sell it. You also cannot buy an indigenous venison meal in an American restaurant. Americans truly believe it is immoral to make-money out of wildlife. All this is based on an American cultural principle! It is now ingrained within the psyches of America’s people. They believe explicitly in its moral correctness and legitimacy. There have been moves in recent years to relax the stringency of this cultural reality – because many Americans see its flaws – but such ventures struggle against the very strong force of national rejection.

The states of southern Africa have an entirely different wildlife sub-culture – best described as being commercial. The whole fabric of southern Africa’s wildlife management programme is based upon making money out of the legal ownership and sustainable harvest of our indigenous wildlife resources. And here, too, this principle is written into the laws of southern African countries. Our wildlife sub-culture works for us – just as the American wildlife sub-culture works for the people of America – even though they are the antitheses of each other.

What Americans need to understand, however, is that they cannot impose the American wildlife sub-culture onto the states of southern Africa (or on any other state) because the pieces of the American jigsaw puzzle don’t fit into puzzle patterns of any other national culture. The shapes of ANY jigsaw puzzle pieces, and the images on the top-sides of each piece, cannot be forced into a different picture puzzle. But, in effect, this is what is happening. Africa is being forced to adopt the American (or First World) way of doing things – even if that fact is not official. It is happening, for example, through the proxy ‘government’ forces of groups like the International Conservation Community and the Clinton Foundation – which have been conniving. The Clinton political powerhouse talks anywhere in the world! So, too, does the money of the Clinton Foundation. And both have been cleverly harnessed by the International Conservation Community.

The Anti-market hunting principle of the American wildlife sub-culture is very similar to the abolitionist objectives of the animal rights doctrine. They share certain common denominators. They are two peas in the same pod.   And, in America, they very subtly feed on each other. This is why the animal rights movement has been able to gain such financial power and social influence in the United States.

All these influences are affecting Africa’s wildlife adversely and, if this continent is to drag itself out of the quagmire of the post-colonial turmoil it has got itself into – before the human population explosion destroys us all – Africa’s people and Africa’s governments need to take cognizance of all these realities. If they don’t take this seriously – and pretty soon – this continent WILL lose its unique wildlife; its fantastic biological diversity; and its sensational national parks. And when all THAT is gone, there will be nothing left for the international tourist to come and see.

Author: Ron Thomson

First Publised in AFRICAN OUTFITTER magazine Nov 2014

 

 

Ron Thomson

I am NOT a ‘trophy hunter’ - and never have been. I am not involved in the trophy hunting safari business. I am also not a game rancher. But I have ‘administratively controlled’ professional hunters and safari outfitters in my capacity as a government game warden. I am an 80 year old ex-game warden with 60 years of continuous experience in hands-on wildlife management, and national park management, in Africa (1959 to 2019). In breakdown, I have 24 years experience in the management of national parks in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe - and in the management of the wild animal populations that lived inside those national parks; one year as the Chief Nature Conservation of the Ciskei in South Africa; three years as Director of the Bophuthatswana National Parks Board in South Africa; and I worked for three years as a professional hunter in the South African Great Karoo (taking foreign hunters on quests for plains game trophies). I discovered, however, that professional hunting was not my forte. I worked as an investigative wildlife journalist for 30 years in South Africa. I have written fifteen books and hundreds of magazine articles on the subject of wildlife management and big game hunting in Africa. Five of my books are university-level text books on wildlife management. I am a university-trained ecologist; was a member of the Institute of Biology (London) for 20 years; and was a registered chartered biologist for the European Union for 20 years. I have VAST experience in the “management hunting” of elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards and hippos (as part of my official national park work in the control of problem animals); and I pioneered the capture of black rhino in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley (1964 - 1970). My university thesis was entitled: “The Factors Affecting the Survival and Distribution of Black Rhinos in Rhodesia”. Look at my personal website if you want any further details about my experience: www.ronthomsonshuntingbooks.co.za.

Ron Thomson has 159 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

2 thoughts on “Africa’s Wildlife Armageddon (2)

  • October 25, 2017 at 5:33 pm
    Permalink

    I am African, from Zimbabwe, 25years old. Have actually never left the country much (only been to Mozambique for a day) let alone the continent and this is what I’ve always told people especially the international donor community that:
    – We Africans are generally hard workers (making reference to myself and to Zimbabweans since they are the ones I know of)
    – We do not need food and clothes donated to us because that is not the actual solution to our problems
    – We need industrialization, we need our industries to start running then we can go to work, then we can buy our own food, clothes etc
    With reference to what you are saying in this article and the previous one; working will improve our lives, it will afford us the basic life requirements.. because no matter how much people will donate it is never going to be enough But if they could gather all that money they raised to buy food to distribute in Africa and start opening industries, creating employment for the masses then who is going to get the time to go and poach a rhino, an elephant?? It is a dangerous exercise, a lot of people only do that because they actually don’t have the basic life requirements like food, shelter etc.

    Then once you have the majority of people working already the pressures on wildlife parks reduces and we can now practice proper sustainable utilization which benefits those people who live in the areas with wildlife as you explain it. And not some few greedy ministers.

    Reply
    • October 26, 2017 at 8:11 am
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      Dear Evelyn.

      Yet another indication that you have “got the message”. Well done. With people like you around who needs CITES?

      I hope you will keep in touch with us. We have added your name to our data base so that you can receive our emails.

      With kind regards, Ron Thomson

      Reply

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