Hunting is controversial

Adri Kitshoff and Peter Mills
Adri Kitshoff and Peter Mills

VAALWATER — The Waterberg Nature Conservancy invited everyone to attend their hunting discussion during their second quarterly meeting in Vaalwater. The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss the importance of hunting in conservation and to hold a debate afterwards.
The meeting took place on Thursday afternoon 21 April at 14:00 at the NG Church in Vaalwater and was attended by more than 50 people from all organisations and convictions.
“This very topical subject, hunting, is riveting, informative and maybe even controversial but was put open for discussion during our meeting.” said Ken Maud the Chairman of the Waterberg Nature Conservancy.
Peter Mills, Director of Environment and Conservation Cradle of Humankind, talked about “Putting hunting in context”. Mills has made conservation part of his life since 1982 and with a Masters Degree in Wildlife Management he really is a specialist in his field.
“Unfortunately the hunting debate is mostly driven by emotions and not by facts. We must keep in mind in ecology there are actually no rights or wrongs, only consequences and are we always prepared to accept those?” Mills explained.
“In common language people have different perspectives on lots of the terminology surrounding conservation, this includes terms like biodiversity, conservation and ethical hunting. We don’t all agree but that does not mean that we are not all right,” Mills said.
“The overall conservation objectives should be to conserve the life-support systems, to conserve biodiversity and to ensure sustainable use of natural resources. Hunting is part of sustainable use and should be practiced to ensure our environment does not change dramatically,” Mills explained.
“Paradigms are shifting worldwide and this caused that valid reasons 50 years ago, are not accepted as reasonable in 2016. The American and European conservation policies have changed a lot more to a protectionist approach and not a sustainable use approach. They keep putting in stricter regulations against hunting and the import of hunting trophies. This, however, is causing unemployment, overpopulation of species and changing habitats in Africa,” Mills continued.
Adri Kitshoff-Botha, the current CEO of WRSA (Wildlife Ranching South Africa) and previous chairperson of PHASA (Professional Hunters Association of South Africa) discussed “To hunt or not to hunt – Perceptions and realities.”
“The amount of negative publicity that hunting is getting at the moment, worldwide, is terrible. I have received so many threats against myself and my family because of hunting photographs it is actually unbelievable and very scary. I want to repeat what Peter Mills said, and that is that anti-hunting threats, abuse and hysteria are fuelled by emotions and not facts,” Kitshoff-Botha said.
She also stated that people should be aware of the fact that all wild lion populations are not endangered. “The facts show that wild lions in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe have increased by 11% between 1993 and 2014.”
The welfare of a single animal should never be put above that of the entire eco-system, collective or community.
“The positive role that sustainable, responsible and lawful trophy hunting plays in biodiversity conservation has been proven many times by facts and scientific research,” Kitshoff-Botha concluded.
A local Vaalwater resident also talked about hunting in the Waterberg. Baber’s great-grandfather was a Waterberg pioneer in 1886 and also a hunter.
“Already in 1993, after I completed my compulsory military service, did I realise that cattle ranching on its own was not viable anymore. Farmers had to start thinking outside the box to be competitive and successful,” Baber explained.
“Hunting is the one thing that made animals value. But to make a reserve in the Waterberg viable a land owner should actually have a variety of branches like eco-tourism, photographic and activity-based safaris, trophy and biltong hunting, the breeding of rare game and good genetics as well as live game sales,” Baber said.
“Hunting in itself is a very good management tool on one’s property that can be used for a number of purposes. To harvest only old animals, take out injured animals or remove animals with poor genetics. You can also selectively cull. Venison meat is an added bonus that can be used in a variety of ways,” Baber continued.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.