I have just finished reading Lord Ashcroft’s article in the Daily Telegraph (23 November 2019) entitled “Britain needs a total ban on hunting trophies”. Never have I been more disappointed by anything that emanated from the pen of a respected British nobleman. It was full of blatant untruths, obviously contrived propaganda fabrications, and many personal preference opinions that are nowhere in line with the ‘truth’; or with the science of wildlife management.
What most British people do not understand is that, in southern Africa, wild animals are looked upon as being WILD ‘products of the land’ – just as cattle sheep and goats are considered to be TAME ‘products of the land’. And BOTH are used wisely and sustainably to provide red-meat benefits for mankind. Domesticated animals are harvested by loading them onto the back of a lorry and taking them to the nearest abattoir for slaughter. Wild game animals are killed in the field with a rifle; and the wildlife ranchers obtain value-added benefits by selling the hunting rights to a hunter (or he shoots the animal himself). In South Africa, 20 percent of all red meat consumed by the public is venison.
South Africa’s wildlife culture is commercial and it is closely linked to game ranch hunting – which is a new venture for many wannabe black game ranchers in our society. The biggest profits come from hunters in search of particular trophies, so trophy hunting is very important to the industry. Unlike what happens in the rest of Africa, however, where most commonly hunted animal species are said to suffer a loss in genetic quality when their prime breeding bulls as shot on a regular basis, this does not happen in South Africa. Instead, animals are especially bred for their greater body size and longer horn-lengths; and prime bulls of such specimens are released into the massed breeding herds on a regular basis. And the farmers make very sure those special and very expensive animals are not killed by hunters who are looking only for meat. Because of these breeding techniques, game animals of all species, all over the country, are showing greater body mass and greater horn lengths all round. Compared to just a decade ago animal sizes, and trophy sizes, are now infinitely bigger.
So, if Britain is going to ban the importation to the U.K. of perfectly legitimate game trophies procured in South Africa, that action is going to adversely affect the game ranching industry; it is going to reduce the ability of the game ranchers to provide red meat for people to eat; and it is going to disrupt the economics of wildlife ranching. And, finally, it is going adversely affect South Africa’s ability to introduce the black members of our society to this lucrative business.
I suspect, however, that the idea of banning the importation of hunting trophies to the U.K. has nothing at all to do with what Lord Ashcroft is advocating. Banning trophies is just one step forward in the campaign to ban all hunting. That, after all, is what the animal rightists are demanding; and that is what the politicians in England are helping them to do.
So, I would like to suggest that Lord Ashcroft agree to share a platform with me on British television, on which to discuss all these issues. I think it is time that the British public be told the ‘truth’ about wildlife management practices in southern Africa. I am prepared to discuss any wildlife subject of Lord Ashcroft’s choice – including elephant management and the captive breeding of lions.