I often get asked “how can you do what you do?”.
I have been hunting for many years and have come to a realisation that unless proper conservation though ethical hunting gets enforced onto hunters and wildlife conservationists, hunting will take a slow death in South Africa, which in turn will have a negative impact on the wildlife in South Africa. Hunting is necessary for the environment because it allows animal populations to be controlled and kept in balance with the habitat.
If animals are allowed to populate unchecked, they will reproduce until they exceed the ability of the habitat to provide enough food to sustain the population. This results in damage to plant communities and eventually malnutrition and starvation for the animals.When proper management controls are in place, a pre-determined number of animals are allowed to be taken from the population.
This assures that the food supply can support the remaining animals in a healthy state.Out-of-control populations of animals can cause damage to the plant community that can take decades to repair. In national parks where hunting is not allowed, massive damage to trees and other forage and disease and malnutrition of animals has resulted in authorities having to pay sharpshooters to remove excess animals so that the environment could recover and the animal population could be rejuvenated.
A very good example is the Kruger National Park with their elephants a few years back. They failed to keep the numbers in check and the elephants destroyed allot of vegetation which is still going to take a very long time to come right. Nature is a cruel mistress. It goes in extreme cycles. Without human intervention, populations rise and crash. It is much better to harvest the excess and use them for food than to allow starvation and damage to the habitat to take its toll. In an environment where humans would not exist, predators will keep prey animal populations in check. Unfortunately, in areas populated by humans, predators attack domesticated animals and many predators have been drastically reduced or eliminated.
Without hunting, populations of prey animals would soar and create unsuitable conditions. In a natural environment without humans, predator populations increase dramatically as long as prey animals are abundant. When the predator populations get to a certain level, the prey animal population diminishes and cannot support the predators. Then the predators start to die off and the cycle goes on and on. In the early days before game laws, many game species were hunted to extinction or near-extinction by humans. Those with insight saw the need to control excess hunting and harvesting of game animals. Laws were drafted to protect animals and regulate hunting seasons, hunting methods.
The use of scientific technology in studying animal habitat and populations allows the departments of natural resources to adjust seasons as needed to insure that animal populations are maintained at levels that the habitat can support. If numbers diminish, seasons are reduced, and if they flourish, seasons are increased. By this means, we are able to enjoy hunting, provide high quality protein food for our families, but still insure that animal populations will be maintained for future generations.
The most damaging problem for many animals today is not excessive hunting. It is loss of habitat due to development. If we are to maintain a viable population of a wide range of animal species, we must learn to be much wiser in how we develop and use our natural resources and devise plans to maintain viable habitat for these species. It is the hunters and their concessions that keep the population in good steed and minimise the poaching of the rhinos and elephants as they have every incentive in the world to make sure they have good breeding stock. I feel that it is up to each individual to do his or her part in looking after the fauna and flora of South Africa.
As much a people protest against animal cruelty and hunting, those people do nothing other than campaign and complain. They do not raise the funds needed to look after the population. I have my own concession in the Greater Kruger National Park and Pongola Game Reserve – want to know why. Day visitors to the parks do not raise enough money to keep the parks going, the hunters believe it or not, are the ones funding the ability for people to enjoy nature they so long to visit and enjoy. Let me give you an example. You as a family visit the Kruger and stay in a rondavel, you pay your day fees to enter the park and two nights accommodation, your total spend is not more that around $3000 to the Kruger.
I have a hunting party spending that exact $3000 but then also another $14500 for an old buffalo bull past his breeding stage. I have funded the reserve $14500 extra for the pure reason for them to continue having the land for the buffalo to breed and live out their lives for someone like you to enjoy. I am not attacking anyone, just trying to make you understand, that without hunting, their would literally not be any wildlife in this beautiful country of ours.
Believe it or not, the reason we need people posing with the animals it to attract the target market (not everyone does). There are over 2000 outfitters operating in RSA and competition for clients is tough. Returning clients always come for the personal touch and the experience given by the outfitter, but new clients is not easy to attract.
The better your site looks and the more you engage, the more likely you are to attract foreigners to hunt with you.
Have a look here http://www.jwksafaris.com/south-africa-pricelist
You can see the amount of money hunters spend when they come out, animals are not cheep, and international hunting is purely trophy hunting. They hunt the older animals past their breeding age and whom have normally been kicked out the herds. The meat is given to the locals working on the farms to feed their families.
The protester and “bunny huggers” are normally base everything on feelings regardless of what it does for conservation.
I wish that associations like PETA would solely concentrate on the domestic abuse and the oceans being fished out.
If there were a shortage of any animals (not due to poaching) then we could have a whole different discussions. But as I mentioned, it is the hunters and their concessions that keep the population in good steed and minimise the poaching of the rhinos and elephants (all other game too) as they have every incentive in the world to make sure they have good breeding stock.
I as a hunter, looking after my concession, paying anti-poaching units to do patrols – who would pay them in those areas if I was not there?
Remember people, you cannot save a forrest by hugging a tree!!!!
PH, Adriaan Wepener