- I have started to study the work of Charles Darwin and is currently busy with The Origin of Species. I listen to an audio book on you tube in the evenings and have also found an online copy. I have also found that listening to classic music and playing chess against the computer is much more relaxing than watching TV. As of this month we do not have a TV in our house anymore. My wife watches her programs on her tablet on Show Max and I do the same on my phone or laptop. I also found it much more pleasant when we receive visitors and there is no TV in the lounge to distract everybody. I must state that this arrangement was made possible by my working from home and as a result having fiber internet uncapped installed at home by my employer. This is truly liberating, and I suspect that in future a lot of people will find that such a manner of living is far more rewarding than the pop culture we have grown accustomed to.
- We must embrace all the advantages that the modern world and technology afford us.
After a lot of introspection thought and reading during the December 2017 holiday I have decided to actively pursue a new path in my life.
At this stage I am busy to research what will be best suited to me personally and how it will manifest in my life.
On Saturday night 11 February 2017 in the Modimole area a person was shot and killed after apparently being mistaken for a warthog. According to media reports a man and a woman went out at about 20h30 to hunt warthog. After hearing a noise the man shot in the direction and upon inspection found that he had shot a person. The police was informed and the man now face a murder charge.
I will not even go into the political implications that will follow as it is a white man who shot a black man. It is the ultimate stupidity to go out at night hear a sound and shoot in the direction of the sound. It is further more stupid to shoot without clearly identifying your target. How is it possible not to distinguish between a human and a warthog. I can go on.
I must admit that I am reacting on the media reports and the information available from that. More information may become available as the case proceeds. I doubt however if anything can change the basic wrong that appear to have been committed and the lesson hunters should learn from this tragic incident.
I do not agree with shooting animals at night and it is for the most part illegal. Only under certain circumstances and with culling permits authorizing night shooting is it allowed by law. It is however widely practiced in South Africa and some people even consider it hunting.
Apart from the obvious danger as the case above illustrates I do not consider it ethical hunting. Any hunter that prescribe to fair chase principles should not take part in such activities. Further more this persons irresponsible action gives the anti gun and anti hunting lobby’s ammunition to use against hunters and sport shooters. Far worse it cost a person his life.
My sincere condolences to the family of the deceased the law will run its course and justice will be served.
I have never hunted a leopard and have no desire to do so. As I am not against trophy hunting and believe that sustainable use is one of the best conservation tools I am not against the hunting of leopards. My experience with leopards is mostly sightings in the Kruger National park although I encountered leopard twice while hunting.
While hunting impalas in the Hoedspruit area we were approached at the boundary fence of the property by an employee of the neighbouring property. The owner of that property was away and a leopard had entered the staff quarters. The owner of the property we were hunting on did not have his rifle with him and I lent him my 375H&H to go and investigate. Unfortunately the Leopard charged him in the compound and he had to shoot it. The Leopard is a magnificent animal and while it was skinned I was fascinated by how muscular it was. It was sad for both of us that it was killed.
About two years later I hunted in the All Days region. On arrival at the hunting farm the owner informed us that there was a Leopard active on the property and that it had taken a goat two days prior to our arrival. They have followed it without success. While hunting on foot the next afternoon the tracker pointed to the ground and whispered that it was the spoor of the Leopard. We were still investigating the spoor when the Leopard stood up about 75 meters in front of us and slowly walked away. Then just as quickly it disappeared. The tracker urged me to follow the Leopard and said the land owner will be glad if I shoot it. I however had no intention to do so and instructed that we proceed in the opposite direction. I later heard that the Leopard was shot and killed by the land owner about two weeks later when it was found after killing another goat.
I have just read an article that the Department of Environmental Affairs have extended the zero quota for Leopard hunting in 2017. This is of concern to the hunting industry because of the loss of opportunity and income. Hunters will simply look at other countries. I further submit that if a hunting permit can be obtained and US Dollars earned land owners such as described above may be more tolerant to predators on their property and may even encourage their presence.
Somewhere between 1975 and 1979 I can not remember the exact year I accompanied my childhood friend and his father on a hunting trip. We left Windhoek early to travel the 350km to the farm in the Aranos district. On the bench seat of the yellow Datsun pick up was me my friend and his father. We were still small and there was plenty space. We arrived on the farm at about mid day. The farm owner was family of my friend although I can not remember what the relation was.
After lunch we were each given an air rifle and a tin of pellets and told to be off. The adults proceeded to slaughter a sheep for the fat to be added to the sausages that will be made from the game to be hunted. A cow was also slaughtered for meat. We would spend the afternoon hunting birds. For city boys such as us this was heaven. We were off at once and was not seen at the farmhouse till late that afternoon. Dusty and tired each with a hand full of birds. We slept well that night.
It was still dark when we were woken with coffee and a rusk. Shortly afterwards we climbed onto the back of an open pick up truck and left the farm yard behind. My friends father with his rifle ready and us two stood behind the cab and two farm workers sat on the side of the load bin behind us. The cold winter air burned our eyes and our hands as we drove on but we were to exited to complain. Besides in those days a boy did not complain for fear of not being invited again.
I know that this is not hunting in the purist form and that what I describe is harvesting of game for meat. This is however how it was done and forms part of my fondest childhood memories.
It was not long before we came upon the first heard of Springbok. At the shot the animal when down. It was a neck shot. Me and my friend jumped off and accompanied the farm workers to retrieve the carcass. As we drove of the flap of white hair on the back of the buck stood up and I smelled the distinct smell produced by springbok. Even at that young age I experienced the emotion every hunter feels after a successful kill as I do still today. It is hard to describe but powerful.
During the course of the morning we shot a few more Springbok before returning to the farm house to slaughter the Springbok and for lunch. After lunch the adults sat on the large veranda in front of the farmhouse. We took off with the air rifles to hunt birds. We were told to be back at 15h00 when the adults wanted to go to the veld again. The afternoon passed with a few more Springbok taken. That night after supper we went to bed content.
The next morning we were up again before dawn. At about mid morning we spotted an Oryx standing broad side at about 150m. My friends father took aim and shot. At the shot the Oryx ran off. We followed the blood spoor for about 500m were one of the workers spotted the dead animal behind a bush. Me and my friend followed behind the adults careful to stay behind his father with the rifle. We did this because we were taught gun safety from a young age but more so because we remembered the supper time conversation from the night before. The story was told of how dangerous a wounded Oryx can be and how it will impale a hunter with its long horns.
The next day was spent processing the meat by the adults and we hunted birds and played around the farm yard. When we loaded the yellow Datsun pick up for our journey back to Windhoek it was completely filled with meat in the back under the canopy.
As they say this was the good old days.
I have read an article in the local press about lion farming and related activities. Let me start by stating that I am in total opposition to canned lion hunting. I define canned lion hunting as the hunting of lions in small enclosures from vehicles not in accordance with the principals of fair chase. I am not opposed to the hunting of lions in their natural environment and according to the principals of fair chase. Fair chase for me is the hunting of an animal in its natural environment were the animal is living self sufficient and has a fair chance to escape the hunter. I personally however have no desire to hunt a lion. I have had the privilege to hunt in areas where the big five occurred. During hunts I have encountered Rhino , Buffalo and Leopard while hunting on foot. I never shot any of these animals. These are treasured memories of exceptional experiences .
For those so inclined there are places in South Africa where lions can be ethically hunted. With proper research and the conviction to do it right it is possible. In South Africa unfortunately there are a lot of unethical operations the so called canned lion hunts.
Another contentious issue is the exportation of lion bones to eastern countries for the manufacture of Tiger tea. In this instance we will once again be confronted with the same issues as with rhino horn. Will a ban on trade stop the demand or will it create a lion poaching problem. My opinion is that the latter will be true. Careful consideration should be taken to properly regulate this process if it is to be allowed. I am aware that 800 permits have been issued for the exportation of lion skeletons. This process is challenged and we will have to see what the outcome will be.
Lastly the article dealt with the petting of lion cubs in petting zoo’s and breeding facilities. This practice is also controversial with the argument that these animals are familiarized to the presence of humans and then unethically hunted once they are fully grown. These animals also lose their fear of humans and can pose a danger. I have no problem with the breeding of animals for hunting. This should be done in natural habitat with as little as possible human contact. This is not always possible with predators and captive breeding has a purpose. If the regulations as imposed by the wildlife authorities in the different provinces is adhered to ethical hunting can take place. Once again a few unscrupulous individuals is breaking the law and getting away with it due to lack of proper policing and corruption.
Hunters and the hunting industry in general are now the target of the anti hunting lobby because of the unethical behaviour of a few individuals. The conservation efforts of hunters are ignored and the sport discredited. This is done in many instanced by activists who lives well of donner funds and have no interest in finding solutions beneficial to wildlife but detrimental to their source of free income.
Last night the conversation turned to rhino poaching. It is my opinion that the trade in rhino horn should be legalised. As with all wildlife legal trade will give economic value which have boosted conservation efforts tremendously. As with all things in life most law abiding people like to do things legally. If rhino horn can be obtained legally the need for poaching will be reduced. The ban in trade have not reduced the demand and only created an organized crime opportunity. Stockpiles of rhino horn in South Africa and other African countries could be used to control the market and can raise funds to boost conservation.
To stop the poaching it will also be crucial that the communities living close to rhino habitat be supported with sustainable economic benefits. This can only be done with job creation and bona fide business opportunities aimed at communities not a few corrupt politically connected individuals.
Namibia have shown that sustainable use of wildlife by the hunting industry can boost conservation and benefit local communities. Managed correctly programs such as these can be of benefit throughout Africa. Wildlife and people can benefit.
Botswana on the other hand is learning that a ban on hunting lead to a increase in poaching. It is simple economics. If people lose their jobs as guides or camp staff in the hunting industry and these jobs is not replaced by other industries there is a problem. People still have to eat and suddenly wildlife don’t have economic value any more. Don’t argue that photographic safaris can fill this void. It has been proven that it can not. Tourists on these safaris simply don’t spend what hunters are prepared to spend and it is for the most part an once in a lifetime experience. Hunters keep on returning in most instances. Not mention the subsidiary benefits such as meat to feed communities and travel, accommodation and other benefits to local economies.
I understand that hunting is not for everyone. My argument is that hunting benefits and that those opposed to hunting because of the killing should look at the bigger picture and realize just that. Nobody expect them to partake or even use the produce although a lot of them consume meat and revel in the increased numbers of wildlife populations. As long as hunters don’t take credit.
The demand for Rhino horn will always be there so too for ivory and gold. Gold mining and the trade in gold products will not be banned. Gold reserves will be depleted at some point in the future. If managed correctly the sustainable utilization of wildlife can last forever.