What If We Made It Illegal To Try To Help?

Hunting helps fight poaching. Not even the most ardent anti-hunters are prepared to dispute that – because they can’t.

HuntNow1117rightelephantbotswanabullThey can’t argue with the fact that funding generated by hunters in Africa – including and perhaps most importantly the revenues generated by elephant hunting – supports anti-poaching efforts.

They can’t argue with examples like the one demonstrated in Zimbabwe, where hunting businesses, supported by funds generated by U.S. hunters, provided the financial resources for the discovery and apprehension of the poachers who poisoned elephants in Hwange National Park.

Those who support an importation ban on legally hunted elephants from Zimbabwe and Tanzania contend that the benefits brought by hunting haven’t been enough to eradicate poaching. In other words – despite the undisputable benefits brought by hunting – the anti-hunters have decided that if hunting hasn’t cured the poaching problem, then the importation of legally hunted trophies should be prohibited.

rhino-100412What if we applied that solution to other challenges that we are fighting? For example, what if we told everyone to stop making charitable donations, because world hunger hasn’t been eradicated despite the millions of dollars that have been contributed to feeding the poor?

What if we told all those who donate money to fight diseases like cancer, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and heart disease – just to name a few – to keep their money, because their efforts haven’t resulted in a cure.

What if we told them that because they hadn’t achieved complete success – their donations were now illegal?

Hunters and nonhunters all agree that poaching (the illegal killing of animals) must be stopped, and that those who participate should be severely punished.

Poachers crossing the Mongo Mawe river.
Poachers crossing the Mongo Mawe river.

It is time for everyone to focus on the poachers and stop blaming and penalizing the hunters who, unlike the poachers, are engaging in legal activities, regulated and approved by the countries in which they hunt.

Instead, let’s make sure that the hunters, who are contributing to anti-poaching efforts, are supported and encouraged by the U.S. government — not ostracized by those who don’t understand hunting and are unable to do anything themselves to fight the war against poaching.

Let’s also stop placing the entire burden on the hunting community to end poaching and then deprive them of the only mechanism they have to fight poachers.

Hunters are willing and able to help – but there’s nothing we can do when hunting is banned.

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