16 March 2017

South Africa: Paradise Is Finite - a Lesson a Long Time in the Learning, and Yet to Be Learnt By Some


Acknowledging the role that colonial hunting by Britons, Americans and other Europeans played in the decimation of rhino and elephant populations in Africa from the 1800s challenges the notion that trade in rhino horn and ivory is relatively new.

The history of rhino conservation is paradoxical. It's tied to the very English sport of hunting. The conservation of rhino began with white hunters who were shooting them and wanted to protect them so they could continue to shoot them. These trophy hunters included the likes of Percival, Paterson and Prowse who penetrated East Africa in the 1900s. They didn't want to protect rhinos and game only because they wanted to shoot them, they also respected them in a way that only trophy hunters understand.

Another benefit of hunting was the presence of Asian middlemen in Africa which meant that trophies could be traded, sometimes openly, sometimes not. Ivory was for carving, rhino horn for medicine and carving. Another aspect of British conservation and regulations was that the rights to hunt game leaned in favour of white hunters. In the 19th century, indigenous tribesmen did most of the hunting to supply an economically important international trade. The native kingpins reaped riches....

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