Hold fire on hunting

Updated: 2011-08-25 07:39

(China Daily)

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TO GIVE, OR NOT TO GIVE, PERMITS TO INTERNATIONAL HUNTERS, that is the question.

No matter what the outcome, the groundswell of opinion will remain against granting permits as the argument to support trophy hunting is simply not plausible: The money earned from the business will in return support the protection of wildlife.

It means that some wild animals have to be killed to provide better protection for the rest. But if we can provide protection for some, then why not for all?

There is no evidence to show that the ecology in the designated hunting areas has recovered to such an extent that animals need to be culled because their numbers exceed the capacity of the environment to support them.

And there is no way the earnings from international hunters can support wildlife protection. From 1998 to 2000, the county-level wildlife protection station received only enough revenue from international hunters to cover the cost of providing hunting services, according to a paper by Dr Richard Harris, the adjunct associate professor of wildlife conservation at the University of Montana.

There should be a better funding mechanism from the central and local governments to support local wildlife protection stations so they can better protect our wildlife. Trading wildlife for the protection of wildlife in areas with a fragile ecology is not a good idea.

Another argument in support of the hunting is that the hunters will only kill old, male animals rather than the young and females, so hunting will not have a big impact on the lives of the animals.

What we can infer from this is: if foreigners are allowed to hunt because the consequences of their hunting are not that serious, then other people can do so for the same reason.

Allowing foreigners to hunt State-level protected animals sends the message that money can make illegal activities legal. An ordinary resident who kills an animal on the State-level protected list will get a jail term, whereas a wealthy guy gets a permit to kill.

As we all know, a lot of sharks are killed simply because some wealthy people like to eat their fins. Some poach rare falcons and smuggle them out of China because wealthy people keep them as pets to show off their fortune. Tibetan antelopes are poached because of the high price of their fur, which is used for shawls that sell for thousands of US dollars.

These are the associations people tend to make with the permit the Chinese government gives to the foreigners for killing blue sheep and Tibetan gazelles in Qinghai province.

The central government needs to think twice before granting the permits.

(China Daily 08/25/2011 page8)