Trophy hunting (also known as recreational or sport hunting) involves the payment of a fee for a hunting experience, usually supervised, for one or more animals with specific desired characteristics (such as large body size or antlers). (IUCN,2019)
Countries that legalized trophy Hunting, such as South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, among the many more around the world, have affirmed that the mechanism has contributed to preserving, protecting and restoring the natural environment and wildlife. From these definitions, it may be right to say that hunting plays a role in conservation, which may come as a surprise to most people.
Hunting was made illegal in Kenya in the year 1977. The most commonly hunted animal then was the elephant which affected the species population extensively. Kenya pioneered the destruction of ivory as a way to combat this black market. However, illegal hunting still poses a threat to wildlife conservation. Some CITES parties (member states), led by Zimbabwe, stated that wildlife had to have an economic value attached to it to survive and that local communities needed to be involved. Ivory was widely accepted in terms of non-lethal use of wildlife, but a debate raged over lethal use as in the case of the ivory trade.
On the 17th of April 2021, WildNow Talks held a conversation on Trophy hunting. Memo Some, Founder of WildNow Foundation, interviewed two guest speakers Dr Francis Vorhies and Robbie Kroger, about the controversial topic.
Dr Francis Vorhies is the founder and Executive Director of Earthmind. He has over 30 years of international experience in the interface between business, biodiversity and development.
Robbie Kroger is a Hunter, Chief Scientific Officer for Covington Civil and Environmental and the founder of Blood Origins, an organization focused on narrating symbiotic relationship stories between hunters and nature.
GAINS FROM HUNTING
In trying to understand the impact of hunting in conservation and sustainability, the incentives from the act were pointed out. Kroger stated that for hunting to be successful, it has to be driven by the community. “In Zimbabwe, for instance, hunters are able to give back to communities through sharing the kill as meat and proteins for the community. What do the communities want and need to embrace the wildlife around them? People have to see value in the things they interact with. If there is no value to something, it would be replaced with something that has value.”
In support of this, Dr Francis quoted Richard Clarke, who was a chief veterinary of KWS in 1995, “Sustainable consumptive utilization of wildlife as an alternative to domestic animal ranching, farming or use of commercial land has a number of benefits, species which otherwise would be removed from land as competitors to livestock would be conserved therefore reducing the risk of extinction.” He highlighted that there is potential for developing consumptive wildlife consumption in Kenya, such as game farming of crocodiles, hunting and community utilization schemes. With the introduction of rhino hunting in Kenya for example, the activity will improve the rhino population, fund projects and provide job opportunities to communities.”
Reduce decline of species
To many, hunting is viewed as a catalyst to animal extinction. However, this is not so from the interviewee’s perspective. Both supported that the statistics have been corrupted and exploited without any factual evidence.
Robbie underlined that there is not a single species whose population is declining because of hunting, but rather the decline is due to shrinkage in wildlife habitat. For example, in South Africa, Since the 1980s, the population of African lions has dropped from 100,000 individuals to below 10,000. And while the wild numbers of lions are decreasing, the number of captive-bred lions used for canned hunts has only increased.
Population control is another crucial feature discussed by hunters and conservationists. It refers to strategies that seek to maintain a target population at a level that can be supported by the ecosystem. Thus, Dr Francis and Robbie expressed certainty that through hunting, population control and an effective balance on the ecosystem is well established.
In support of this, Dr Francis gave a brief case study of overpopulated lions in Aberdares in Kenya. “They were eventually hunted down but if the economic value to wildlife could be brought to Kenya, it would compete better with areas such as crop farming, and wildlife population would then increase.”
ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST AND HUNTING
To many environmental activists, hunting is destructive and lethal in the conservation field and wildlife management yet to supporters of hunting like Dr Francis and Robbie Kroger, fishing is hunting and killing of domestic animals is as brutal as the killing of wild animals.
From young African conservationists, this act is greatly linked to the exploitation of Africa’s wildlife and its people. Many agree that incentives such as ‘proteins’ to communities are nothing but demeaning and based on corrupted facts for enjoyment of a few rich people to the detriment of the communities. Villagers have recorded their displeasure with hunters who present carcasses for photo opportunities as means to indicate their supply of meat to the community. The number of animals slaughtered has insignificant nutritional value in the food range in the villages where these activities take place.
Loss of diversity
The animals with outstanding features such as large body size, tusks or horns are killed in trophy hunting. This removes these characteristics from the breeding groups. While some hunters have justified that they only focused on the old unproductive animals there is no evidence to prove that the animals that are killed are not reproductive.
The act has been a driving force in the increased number of captive breeds in Africa. A recent article by ABC News stated that animals in South Africa are hand-reared, so they grow up to be tame and used to humans. Cubs are used in petting attractions while they’re very young and small. Adolescent lions are used in other tourist activities, such as walking with lions. When they get too big to safely interact with tourists, the lions are either recycled back into the breeding industry or sold to other facilities where they will be gunned down in canned trophy hunts or killed for their bones.
Hunters have no problem with modifying animal behaviour, farming animals to produce victims who in the end do not have the proper animal instinct to survive in the hunting environment. This doesn’t qualify as hunting.
Africa remains the last frontier for large wild animals. Africa will play a critical role in the quest to determine how the animal species will be affected by the ever-increasing human population. The need for sustainable conservation approaches, wildlife protection and human-wildlife coexistence is now more critical than ever. Ecotourism forms the strongest pillar in providing a sustainable ecosystem and preservation of the wild heritage for posterity. This is easily practised with other methods of land use such as livestock ranching and commercial forests that can easily increase land productivity.
Open discussions on this matter are the first step to achieve sustainability and for a country like Kenya which is rich in wildlife, a long-term strategy and robust implementation systems that factors the neighbouring countries has to be put in place for the future of wildlife and her people. This has to have local communities as a central cog for success. For the good of humanity and the wild.
the damage to the wildlife is to be prioritized. The Vision of Kenya Wildlife Services is “To save the last great species and places on earth for humanity”. Voting forth of this construction after the distractions caused by the SGR and Bypass is deliberately going against its objectives and mission as the backbone of wildlife conservation in Kenya. We as youths have taken the initiative to address the cause and implications caused by the act.
Majority called to attention that the park is the getaway to the underprivileged in Nairobi. Most of the visitors in the park are proven to be from the working class who seek to have a family excursion during the weekends to learn and embrace what nature is all about. Invading the parks space is restricting on our wildlife growth and the locals of Nairobi who are made up of the working class as majority is substantially affected.
Leaders and investors behind this projects have a diverse option of what park to visit and explore regardless of cost implication but have they considered the “common mwananchi” of Nairobi?
The management plan is said to improve the parks ecosystem; however, few years ago, after completion of the SGR Railway and Bypass, Kenya Wildlife Services owned up to the damage caused by the constructions. It was announced that some of the flora species have gone extinct and the animals have greatly been affected by the noise, disruption of their space and air pollution from the encroachments of housings deeper into the park.
As the proposal of the hotel is still pending, it’s important to consider that Human disturbance can affect wildlife behavior which will in the long run affect wildlife population.
Constructions in the national park will do more harm than good. Which begs the question. “Is our wildlife protection the priority here?”
The heritage of Africa is wildlife, and the distinctiveness of Kenya from other African countries and the whole world is amongst other things is “A National Park in the City”. Cowie who established the park in 1946 described the area as “paradise that was quickly disappearing.” Currently his predictions are proving to be accurate. What was home to different wildlife species is said to be a favorable destination in hospitality and tourism. Are we willing surrender our wildlife and uniqueness for profit gain rather than sustainability?
The youth of Kenya have expressed views on the agenda and we believe the future of our wildlife in a more sustainable and considerable manner should be a pressing discussion. The park has a lot of history behind it and preserving those stories and species in it is a role for everyone to take part in for the sake of the coming generations and for our environments biodiversity.
In the year 1989 Kenya’s second President, Daniel Arap Moi burned 12 tons of ivory on a site within the park as an indication to cease the ivory trade. The fire was intended as a statement of the Government’s political will to stop the poaching that has reduced Kenya’s elephant herds to 17,000 from 65,000 in 1979. This act ultimately improved Kenya’s conservation and wildlife protection image and helped lead to significant changes in global policy on the ivory trade. By going against the protection of wildlife policies with the constructions, we will be going against what the image of Kenya has been for many years. Nonetheless, poaching and damaging the environment of the park intentionally is still an offence and our conservation efforts would be nothing but a fiasco.
Furthermore, Kenya Wildlife Services also proposes fencing of the park to reduce on the human wildlife conflict. .. There is considerable movement of large ungulate species across this boundary.
Fencing of this part of land will lead to confining of wildlife to one area which will interfere with the ecosystem. Wildlife needs to migrate freely in different seasons, enclosing the national park will be sabotaging nature’s way of living and this will be nothing but a big zoo for the animals.
The environment vs development debate is the discussion circulating the minds behind infrastructure projects in a growing country with a lot of potential and need for growth, nonetheless, it’s important to always keep in mind that our greatest strength is our agriculture and tourism, everything that surrounds the conditions of the environment. Long-term environmental impacts are often not considered in infrastructure development projects.
Lets protect our widlife for the greater good!
By; Maureen Some
HUMANITY FOR WILDLIFE
020 2000 773