In September 2009 leading biologists and economists from around the world met in Windhoek, Namibia, in southwestern Africa to conduct the World Symposium on the Ecologic and Economic Benefits of Hunting. The scholarly and well-substantiated conclusions they drew on the positive results of regulated sport hunting in Africa demonstrated that hunting was not only a valid and necessary wildlife management tool, but that it was also an economic catalyst for many African nations. The resulting publication of the collection of papers presented at this gathering organized by the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities certainly refutes any of the unfounded, emotional charges that have been hurled at the sons of Donald Trump following a safari they participated in last year.
Photos of Eric and Donald Trump Jr. were posted on the website of the safari hosts, Hunting Legends, and a video was placed on YouTube. They posed proudly with their game. The photos received extra attention after the website Wildlife Extra wrote an article about the brothers. Not surprisingly, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, more infamously known as PETA, has jumped into the limelight, always seeking publicity and not letting facts get in the way. In this case, according to the New York Daily News, a PETA spokeswoman said, “Like all animals, elephants, buffalo and crocodiles deserve better than to be killed…If the Trumps want to help villagers, they have plenty of resources at their disposal.”
Does PETA know something about the African economy, poaching, violence and sport hunting that the symposium experts don’t? In the proceedings’ publication, several presenters stated what is a general understanding and, for most of us, common sense: if wildlife has a value to the community, locals will protect it and the habitat that supports wildlife. Hunting provides that value, and spending by hunters, who will go to the most remote parts of a country to pursue their game, disperse their money to some of most impoverished areas.
“The U.N. has identified poverty as a leading cause of violence,” said Rick Patterson, managing director of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer’s Institute. “Hunting enhances the economy, reducing poverty and the violence that so frequently accompanies poverty, while promoting a healthy ecosystem.”
Though the expert economists and biologists can readily refute PETA’s baseless allegations, it would seem Donald Trump’s two sons don’t need spokesmen or references.
“We are both avid outdoorsmen and were brought up hunting and fishing with our Grandfather who taught us that nothing should ever be taken for granted or wasted,” the Daily News reported of a joint statement issued by the brothers.
“We have the utmost respect for nature and have always hunted in accordance with local laws and regulations. In addition, all meat was donated to local villagers who were incredibly grateful. We love traveling and being in the woods—at the end of the day, we are outdoorsmen at heart,” the statement continued.
On Twitter, one of the brothers responded to angry fans with a message, not an apology: “I’m a hunter, for that I make no apologies. The villagers were so happy for the meat which they don’t often get to eat.”
As for wildlife populations, he may have had the elephants of Kruger National Park in South Africa in mind when he wrote, “In some parts it’s over populated.”
Kruger National Park is home to a population of some 16,000 elephants. Biologists have determined that the park’s maximum carrying capacity was not higher than 4,000 when the habitat was healthy and now the recommendation is a high of 2,500. Destruction of the park’s habitat has already been described as “huge” by Ron Thomson, a retired game warden and national parks board director. In a decade or two, he predicts destruction of the habitat to be incalculable.
Why isn’t controlled sport hunting and other forms of culling being practiced? “The main reason for this is the successful consequences of persistent animal rights propaganda,” Thomson stated at the symposium. In other words, it’s because PETA is standing in the way of sound biological principles.