Why I don’t have a soft spot for poachers, trophy hunters and wildlife traffickers

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November 16, 2018

Why I don’t have a soft spot for poachers, trophy hunters and wildlife traffickers

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“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Somewhere in between people who value wildlife and those who fight every day to protect wildlife, are people who find it fun to kill and hunt wildlife animals all because they would love to have a wall hanging or a trophy of a wild animal in their house. In most cases, they consider themselves brave and above all that is nature. Fact is, we are all a part of nature and I don’t know how many times I can emphasize this. Killing an animal, a wild animal for that matter, just because your adrenaline spikes up just before you shoot it, is absurd.

It’s unfortunate to think hunting is fun. That hunting helps communities. That hunting helps developing countries. Or worse still, hunting has been part of our generations since time immemorial so it’s part of our family heritage. Well, in Africa, bushmeat was part of our culture, so was living with wildlife peacefully. Yet, when we were colonized and religion came into our lives, suddenly, our cultural heritage was obsolete. So, if we do not practice most of our cherished cultural rights why would someone think their ways are right?

Recently, China lifted a ban on the use of rhino horn and tiger bones as traditional medicine. Fortunately, this has been postponed. Postponed, not we are closing it, but we are still thinking about the possibilities of opening it. This is devastating for conservation efforts across the world. The rhino and tiger population have yet to thrive in their natural habitat. We are yet to ensure these two beautiful species will outlive us and our children. Yet, an entire country, one that is a high consumer for these products wants to lift a ban. Whether they are thinking this will prevent illegal wildlife trade or that the consumption will increase the number of species is total nonsense.  The demand for wildlife products should stop. There is no scientific evidence that proofs wildlife products can cure any disease or ailments. Be it cancer or that slight headache. That is why we have a whole industry on pharmaceuticals to figure out and make compounds of drugs to aid our bodies in times of physical distress.

In Africa, hunting is a huge business in Botswana, Namibia and generally most of the Southern part of Africa. Read business carefully. How has hunting helped communities and the country? Well, we can be assured that they are still developing and not close to being developed. Somehow, they have managed to convince millions of people including their own that they can benefit from foreigners coming to trophy hunt in their country. So many absurd stories go around of hunters helping communities by giving them the meat they hunt. Many go ahead to state how they are building schools, boreholes and healthcare centres. But definitely, a large chunk benefits those in power and thus the poverty levels remain the same.

To make it worse, Tanzania lifted there hunting ban. Not to forget to mention the US, last year, lifted a ban on elephant trophy in Zimbabwe. Why do we continue to think wildlife dead is worth more to a country? Unfortunately, Kenya has been thinking of the so-called Sustainable Utilization of Wildlife. What they choose not to tell us are the negative, long-term impacts this will have for our countries.

Daily, news related to wildlife and conservation informs us of poachers killing elephants, rhinos and many other endangered species all across African and Asian countries. Every single day in Africa, protected areas are not sure whether wildlife will die of illness or old age or whether they will face the merciless hands of poachers. Anti-poaching efforts work day and night to make sure species get to thrive. But first, we must stop the demand. Wildlife is worth more alive. I would rather see an elephant walking the plains of Africa and rummaging through our forests than having their tasks being made into carvings. I would rather witness the rage of a charging rhino than having its horn used as traditional medicine. I would rather watch a leopard hunt than step on its beautiful coat of fur.

Poachers, trophy hunters and wildlife traffickers are a special breed of people who need a mental analysis check. The governments that support trophy hunting and wildlife trade should be investigated on their hidden agenda. We need transparency. There are many other ways to earn from wildlife other than killing them. Communities living with wildlife should be the number one stakeholders of wildlife as they possess indigenous knowledge which we, as a growing population, can be able to utilize to learn more about wildlife.

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Vicki Wangui
Vicki Wangui
Vicki Wangui is a believer in all things beautiful. A believer in spreading information in regards to environmental awareness. A believer in sharing all that is good in Kenya's natural world. A believer in speaking truth with no boundaries. Do you have a story, photo, experience or message you need to share? Send your work to vicki@nyikasilika.org or vickiwangui26@gmail.com.

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