Maetenloch had a truly excellent, longer-than-usual post on l’affaire de Cecil in the ONT a couple of weeks ago, for which I had to hunt around a bit after realizing that Ace doesn’t have a danged search box on the ol’ HQ. But find it I did, and I’m glad of it. In the course of it–yep, read it all–he links to and excerpts from this:
Anti-hunting groups succeeded in getting Kenya to ban all hunting in 1977. Since then, its population of large wild animals has declined between 60 and 70 percent. The country’s elephant population declined from 167,000 in 1973 to just 16,000 in 1989. Poaching took its toll on elephants because of their damage to both cropland and people. Today Kenya wildlife officials boast a doubling of the country’s elephant population to 32,000, but nearly all are in protected national parks where poaching can be controlled. With only 8 percent of its land set aside as protected areas, it is no wonder that wildlife in general and elephants in particular have trouble finding hospitable habitat.
As Maet notes, Zimbabwe decided to allow controlled hunting, and this is how it worked out:
The numbers attest to the program’s success. Ten years after the program began, wildlife populations had increased by 50 percent. By 2003, elephant numbers had doubled from 4,000 to 8,000. The gains have not just been for wildlife, however. Between 1989 and 2001, CAMPFIRE generated more than $20 million in direct income, the vast majority of which came from hunting. During that period, the program benefitted an estimated 90,000 households and had a total economic impact of $100 million.
The results go beyond the CAMPFIRE areas. Between 1989 and 2005, Zimbabwe’s total elephant population more than doubled from 37,000 to 85,000, with half living outside of national parks. Today, some put the number as high as 100,000, even with trophy hunters such as Parsons around. All of this has occurred with an economy in shambles, regime uncertainty, and mounting socio-political challenges.
And then there’s this:
Cecil who? I wondered. When I turned on the news and discovered that the messages were about a lion killed by an American dentist, the village boy inside me instinctively cheered: One lion fewer to menace families like mine.
My excitement was doused when I realized that the lion killer was being painted as the villain. I faced the starkest cultural contradiction I’d experienced during my five years studying in the United States.
Did all those Americans signing petitions understand that lions actually kill people? That all the talk about Cecil being “beloved” or a “local favorite” was media hype? Did Jimmy Kimmel choke up because Cecil was murdered or because he confused him with Simba from “The Lion King”?
In my village in Zimbabwe, surrounded by wildlife conservation areas, no lion has ever been beloved, or granted an affectionate nickname. They are objects of terror.
The American tendency to romanticize animals that have been given actual names and to jump onto a hashtag train has turned an ordinary situation — there were 800 lions legally killed over a decade by well-heeled foreigners who shelled out serious money to prove their prowess — into what seems to my Zimbabwean eyes an absurdist circus.
PETA is calling for the hunter to be hanged. Zimbabwean politicians are accusing the United States of staging Cecil’s killing as a “ploy” to make our country look bad. And Americans who can’t find Zimbabwe on a map are applauding the nation’s demand for the extradition of the dentist, unaware that a baby elephant was reportedly slaughtered for our president’s most recent birthday banquet.
We Zimbabweans are left shaking our heads, wondering why Americans care more about African animals than about African people.
Well, it ain’t just Africans, if the abortion stats (sorry, did I say abortion? I meant the Women’s Right To Choose! stats) are any guide. Back to Maet for the bottom line:
So the bottom line is that if you actually care about the survival of lions as a species, you should support controlled trophy hunting. Hunters like Walter Palmer who paid $55,000 for the hunting permit have done far, far more to actually preserve real world lions in Africa than all of the hand-wringing celebrities and any of you reading this post. Ironically the weeping over Cecil and calls to ban all hunting of lions in Africa out of First World emotionalism may end up actually dooming them as a species. But everyone would still get to feel awesomely smug about their love of lions and general moral superiority from the comfort of their armchair .
Well, that’s all that ever really matters. As long as the Church Ladies of the Left get to remain all self-satisfied and comfy without ever having to actually do anything beyond attending the occasional Mostly Peaceful™ riot, all is well and the problem is solved, whatever it may be.