Over the past few months, a plethora of stories have emerged in the media regarding the hunting of wildlife for trophies. First we saw Cecil the Lion hit the headlines after dentist Walter Palmer killed him in dubious circumstances, and then public outrage at the Bubye Valley Conservancy who offered a raffle in which you could win a lion hunt. Subsequently, this raffle prize was withdrawn, probably due to the bad press and the furore surrounding it died down.
At this point, you would think that hunters and hunting organizations would take a step back and examine whether these occurrences were really things that they should be associated with or offering in the climate of trophy hunting being so openly examined. This, however, was not the case and only a couple of months later the Safari Club International (SCI) has hit the headlines with its annual convention held in Las Vegas which is offering auctions for wild animal hunts.
In truth, there should be no surprise that the hunting organization SCI has gone ahead with its annual raffle as they and hunters have little or no comprehension that there is any reason to object to the trophy hunting of animals. Hunters, in general, are very slow to recognize and accept the fight they are in and that anti-hunters have every right to feel that the killing and displaying of wild animals for sport is wrong.
The majority of hunters brush criticism of this kind off and as Joe Hosmer, president of the SCI Foundation describes it, these are "the futile emotional arguments of those who harbour a moral grudge against the hunting industry." This, no doubt, is an attitude that is most damaging to the hunting community as a whole and possibly the very thing that will cause them to lose the battle for their right to hunt. That and their inability to see they need to start speaking out on the issues, not emotions, related to animal conservation and how they are contributing.
Whilst hunters remain in the majority silent, anti-hunters are making full use of the hunting communities' lack of empathy to persuade the 60% of the population that is undecided on these issues: that hunting is nothing but cruel and hunters little more than murderers. This is a bandwagon the media, in general, has jumped upon resulting in inaccurate, biased reporting which has little to do with conservation and more to do with a witch hunt.
Take the Bubye Valley Conservancy raffle for example. Whilst a lion hunt was indeed on offer, it also offered the chance for those who did not wish to hunt the lion to have it taken off their quota, collared and given the name of the winners' choice. The money raised from this raffle was to all be put back into conservation at the Bubye Valley Conservancy, including their initiative to have a K9 unit to protect their rhino from poachers. This raffle could have been the perfect opportunity for the anti-hunter to play a huge part in the conservation of African wildlife as hunters so often call for them to do, but they were not given the chance.
The media was partly to blame in this instance, but so was the hunting community. After all, it is all well and good in hindsight being a keyboard warrior in the forums of places such as Accurate Reloading and claiming that anti-hunters did not step up, but how could they when no organization offered this opportunity to them or spoke out when the time and opportunity was given?
It is now time the community realized that hunting is not a God given right and that when something is as highly emotive an issue as hunting is, then it needs to be justified and proved to be done for the right reasons. Silence is not the friend of the hunter, it is losing the battle. #News