WHY I HUNT

With the permission of our friend Mr. Thor Kirchner we publish his story. We thought this kind of text is very important to share and to think about, as each day we encounter much of aggressive approach from those calling themselves the animal lovers.

The threats to wildlife here in Africa are much different to the ones you have in developed countries. My main objective here is to protect and increase wildlife in a country where wildlife is under huge pressure. I rarely shoot animals personally. I don’t feel the need to go and kill animals for myself. When I shoot it will be because there could be a dangerous situation coming up or there is a dangerous situation in progress. I will shoot if I need to get meat for myself or someone else. And I will shoot if there is a problem animal as a crop raider or a man-eater. The two biggest threats to wildlife here are population growth and legislation made by western countries based on political pressure and emotional feelings rather than scientific evidence. So not only do I have to deal with the problems within the country but have to fight people who are thousands of kilometers away and have no clue about the situation on the ground. People that have done studies in a place where everything is different to here and think they have the solutions for something they don’t know about. So I do not agree that international organizations should be dictating to local people how to do things if they won’t understand the drivers of the depleting wildlife and forests in Africa. But I do think that in a perfect world that the state in each country should be controlling what is going on in its own country. The problem in our countries here is the corruption going on in the governments and that very few in government and local communities actually care about wildlife. Government only cares about money and don’t see the long-term value in nature and wildlife. Local poor communities only see wildlife as a nuisance and threat to there own existence, because animals raid the little incomes they have from their fields or kill their livestock or in worst case kill humans. Because of an exponential human population growth poverty is increasing with it. And because of bad agricultural practices, deforestation is growing at a devastating rate. With the habitat loss animals are succumbing to starvation, retaliatory killing by the people that live with the animals or just desperate starving people that need food.

Now to be successful in in conserving wildlife and forests or other natural habitat all of these problems need to be addressed. And it is an uphill task, which often makes me want to quit. But it seems I continue trying.

Zambia has a third of its landmass set aside for wildlife protection either as National Park where photographic safaris is the revenue source or hunting area where hunting is the revenue source. Out of this total area one third is National parks and two thirds are hunting areas. If you take away the trophy hunting, what do you think will happen? Wildlife will deplete within a few years in TWO THIRDS of the areas that were previously holding wildlife. Some people will then say, just turn the hunting areas into National parks. Well the fact is that there are not even enough people and funding to fully protect all the existing national parks in the country. So how are they going to succeed in three times bigger areas?

Hunting creates employment, funding for community projects and meat from hunted animals is given to the starving people. This gives the animals’ value to the people and an incentive not to kill them. Much the same way the photographic tourism brings in revenue through employment and funding for community projects less the protein part. One trophy hunter will pay what a hundred photographic clients will pay and have far less environmental impact on the area he/she is visiting.

What I do. I with some investors have taken a piece of land that was not a hunting area or National Park but potentially ideal wildlife habitat, that still had not been deforested, and turned it into a prime wildlife area. This was community land that was bound to be deforested because it didn’t have any protection and is in close proximity to the villages. It still had a bit of wildlife existing and it bordered a hunting area where wildlife would cross over and re-inhabit the area if it was protected. Through private funding and after a few years funding from trophy hunters we have turned a depleted area into a wildlife haven. The only current option we have to get funding is through trophy hunting. Therefore, I could not care less if a trophy hunter gets a kick and can boost his ego by hanging a trophy on his wall to showoff as long as the animal has been killed in an ethic way.

What I need is funds to protect the wildlife and the trophy hunters are the only ones prepared to drop that kinda cash. Anybody who says I’m wrong is welcome to come pay the bills so that we stop the trophy hunting. But no one ever seems to be keen on doing that! Until someone has a viable alternative to hunting in my area I shall continue to do so whether you find it right or wrong. Note our area is not fenced and wildlife moves freely. We kill less than two percent of the wildlife population in our area. We are so successful at what we do that the bit of poaching that goes on in our area does not affect the population growth anymore.

In this past season, I did a hunt in a GMA for another operator in Zambia. This was the first season for this company to operate. The GMA had not been hunted since 2012. It had been dormant for 5 years. I had heard stories about the beauty of this area and the abundance of wildlife it boasted in the past. But it saddened me to see what had happened in the past 5 years. The poaching in the area had been significant and it was easy to see how it had affected the area. Not only poaching, but several illegal logging sites were found and illegal fishermen had diminished the fish population in the rivers with small nets and poison.

The hunt I did there was for leopard. We quickly got some leopards on bait. After seeing that one of the males had a snare around its neck we decided to hunt this one. It was clearly suffering and struggled to breathe. The photos show how bad the leopard must have had it. The snare had cut through skin and flesh and only an inch of skin between head and shoulders was still intact. So when you start bitching about how bad hunting is, I want you to think of this leopard that you were not there to help with your Facebook post sharing when it really needed your help. When you consider signing a petition to stop hunting I want you to think about how this leopard felt when you were not there to help it with your online petition. When you feel hate for people that hunt I want you to remember that this happened to this leopard because hunting was stopped. It is your fault that this leopard’s life was miserable for its last 3 months or so! If you succeed in closing the hunting in these areas, then this is the fate for the rest of the animals. All of them will die a slow and painful death like this leopard was bound to do. And it will be your fault!

Hunting is not the ideal solution for all areas. There are places where non-consumptive tourism is better and other areas are more suited for other kinds of conservation. But at the moment the majority of the remaining wildlife habitat in Africa is under protection from some form of hunting. And hunting is the best you can get out of these areas as things are in this day and age. Until something big changes you have to live with hunting in these areas or no wildlife whatsoever. What do you choose?

All of the western world countries are slowly trying to strangle these areas with legislation that make it harder and less profitable to do trophy hunting in Africa. Even if it has nothing to do with them at all. And by doing so the viability of these hunting areas is diminishing. It is a bit ironic that majority of these countries allow hunting on their own species. And in most cases, at some stage have themselves once eradicated their own wildlife species.