National Geographic released an article today about the Dallas Safari Club’s most recent fundraising endeavor and it is pissing a lot of people off. The controversy arises from what they are offering their patrons to raise funds – the opportunity to hunt an endangered black rhino. Now, I don’t regularly advocate the hunting of endangered species whose very close relative recently went extinct in the wild, but, Dallas Safari Club’s fundraising strategy is not as ill thought out as all the Facebook comments seem to imply it is. What these angry people are completely disregarding are two things:
The issue is most people, primarily brought on by the tree-hugger variety of environmentalist, think of hunting as poaching. But, while, yes, all poachers (by definition) are hunters, all hunters are NOT poachers. In fact, responsible hunters are proving themselves to be more of a solution to the problem rather than being the problem itself. Hunters are actually more interested in true conservation because if they overhunt they will no longer be able to hunt, so they actually have a higher personal investment in the success of a species than animal lover onlookers who have never seen an animal in the wild.
Think of it this way, hunting organizations, such as the Dallas Safari Club, contribute $300 million annually to conservation. In addition to that, $4.2 billion has been contributed to conservation since 1937 through a 10% federal excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and gear. As I have said time and time again, the world is run by those who have the money. And who has money? Rich, hunting enthusiasts. Who doesn’t? Me (a budding conservationist). So, bid away, hunters. The more you bid on this item the better. And to whoever wins, I hope it’s the experience of a lifetime.
The newspaper, almost as much of an endangered species as the cheetah. But, as great as it is having all the news you could ever ask for at your fingertips with the advent of the internet, there is definitely something nostalgic and gratifying about reading a newspaper. I don’t get a newspaper, but I did get a S’Mores Maker (right) in the mail today in a box stuffed with pages from the October 18, 2013 Wall Street Journal. And, amongst those pages, I found this very interesting article (below).
Unbelievably sad news on the Cheetah Conservation Fund front! On Wednesday (October 16) a fire burned the CCF Visitors Centre, which was the location of classrooms, the newly opened Cheetah Cafe and kitchen, a staff apartment and the CCF gift shop, to the ground. It was caused by a lightning strike to the thatch roof which acted as kindling quickly spreading through the entire building. The fire was fought and contained bravely by CCF staff and volunteers. The walls are the only part of the building that remain standing with ashes still smoldering.
The CCF staff has started cleaning up the mess and is still welcoming visitors to the CCF grounds. They are considering this as an opportunity to show people "conservation in action" as they rebuild not only their iconic building but their collection of education materials as well.
When I was in Africa I worked at the Visitors Centre, I bought Coke from the gift shop and enjoyed breaks on the deck under the shade. It was a building enjoyed by visitors, staff and volunteers alike. But, who knows, maybe this fire will be a blessing in disguise and the replacement will be even better!
If you'd like to make a donation to help and rebuild go to Cheetah.org.
I couldn't get through October without posting something about Halloween! This month's Throwback Third Thursday (#tbtt) is a flashback to Halloween 1987. I was the cutest darn witch you've ever seen, Erin rocked pink hair and sequins as a pretty pretty fairy princess and my father was quite possibly the ugliest cheerleader EVER but my mom made a ROCKIN' Jem! That year I got to be in the annual neighborhood Halloween parade for the Children's Creative and Performing Arts Academy then went Trick-or-Treating in Oceanside where my Uncle Matt and cousin Callie were a pretty stinking adorable bunny family! Enjoy the cuteness (minus dad... )!
On Friday I had the opportunity to attend a conference held at Texas A&M called “Making Global Connections: Exploring Global Issues.” Topics covered ranged from solar power to social sustainability discussing issues which affect everyone across the globe as well as what we, as consumers, can do to improve conditions for those in other countries on issues we don’t even realize we affect. I chose to attend the conference knowing that in conservation you must include global issues into your management efforts. As much as it would be nice to do exactly what you think would be best for saving a species or ecosystem, you must take into consideration the political, economic and social climate of the region to allow for the implementation of any plan. A region in turmoil’s first priority is its people, not the nature which surrounds it.
Notice I said “nature” and not “environment.” During these talks, there was a clear distinction between the two. When I think of “environment,” I think of nature, ecosystems, wildlife, etc. When all of these speakers spoke of environment and environmental sustainability, they were referring to agriculture, soil content, water availability, etc – very human-centric. Although every topic inevitably referred back to nature, not one highlighted it as being an issue. One speaker, when talking on education in Africa, referred to going on safari during her trip as a way to “replenish your soul.” And, while I completely agree having been on safari multiple times, there was no mention of habitat destruction, endangered species, exploitation of land or pro and cons of ecotourism. During the conference, one attendee even asked the question of “untapped resources” in Africa, referring to the vast areas of untouched terrain of the African landscape. The response was surprising to me. There was no reference to leaving any of the wild to remain wild but rather that an improvement would be finding how to utilize those resources. Most of the other attendees probably didn’t even notice this omission or think of it as being relevant but, as an African wildlife conservationist, I kind of hoped it would be addressed.
I am a biologist and my life is crap!