October 05, 2021
“I'm never going to hunt in Africa. Why should I care that some state I don't live in is trying to prevent hunters from bringing back trophies of some animal I might never see outside of a zoo?”
Research shows that most people care about the issues that directly impact them. You're more likely to hear outrage from hunters in the United States over an attempt to shut down deer hunting opportunities versus a threat to lion hunting thousands of miles away. But if you're a hunter, you should care about both.
Typically, you will see anti-hunting advocates and uninformed lawmakers focus on a handful of African species in their attacks, usually elephant, Cape buffalo, African lion, leopard, and white and black rhinoceros.
Contrary to what anti-hunting advocates claim, banning the import and possession of these species would be bad news for their long-term survival. The revenues generated by legal, regulated hunting in these countries are often the single most important source of funding for conservation and anti-poaching efforts.
Absent in the discussion from groups pushing for these bans is the science showing that the countries that incorporate hunting into their wildlife management strategies have higher, more sustainable populations of these species than countries that have banned hunting. Sadly, when presented with evidence directly from rural Africans or wildlife experts that runs contrary to their emotion-based argument, lawmakers flat-out ignore it.
In 2020, both the director of the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management Support Organizations and Zimbabwe's Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry testified against California legislation to ban the import and possession of the “Big Five.” They told legislators Namibia's wildlife management relies on hunting and called California's anti-hunting bill “a suicidal prescription that will not work for the African species and the African people.” They emphasized Zimbabwe would not “subscribe to laws that are enacted to dictate how our wildlife resources should be governed in Africa.”
You might never take a trip to Africa to hunt. But if you're a believer that science should be guiding our wildlife management decisions around the globe, and that those communities and individuals closest to the resource should have a say in how their wildlife is managed in a sustainable way, then you should be red hot the next time one of these import bills gets introduced