The killing of George Floyd has opened up a national discussion of racism and particularly systematic racism. The discussion is a far-reaching one that has brought into question many cultural norms and is attempting to change the way we see different aspects of our culture. This discussion is now playing out in the unlikely arena of hunting rights.
California has proposed legislation (Senate Bill 1175) to ban the possession of trophies taken from several African species. How this relates to the race debate going on across the county was brought up in a news article by the Sacramento Bee which outlines how this bill reeks of systematic racism and white privilege.
African nations and conservation organizations are urging lawmakers to kill the bill. “They say the sentiment behind this bill, and similar efforts in Western countries, amount to whites making sweeping generalizations about the people living in 54 separate African countries. In effect, they’re saying it’s racist and insulting for wealthy white Westerners to imply that all Africans are too corrupt or incompetent to make hunting sustainable.”
The True Green Alliance echoed this same argument when the same proposal came up a few years ago.
Again California presumes to tell Africa how to deal with its wildlife assets. In worrying about endangered species, we show no concern for the impoverished humans who live among them without any economic benefit from them. By favoring a California prohibition on wildlife trophies, we invoke the 19th-century colonial attitude of Napoleon III’s premier who said: The higher races have a right over the lower races.
Really? And what would your editorial comment be if the South African parliament passed legislation barring its citizens from traveling to California because the use of recreational marijuana could have deleterious effects on South Africans society? Your outrage toward a country 10,000 miles away interfering in California’s business might demand a boycott of all things South African.
Wildlife in Africa needs Africans to apply sustained and balanced use policies, rather than the failed prohibitions, restrictions and sanctions always favored by Westerners.
The North American model of Conservation has been very effective here in the United State. Since its introduction in the early 20th century no animal has been hunted to extinction. In fact just the opposite has occurred, wild animal population have exploded and we have brought some spieses back from the brink of extinction. There is no reason African can not do the same.
What Africa does not need is white liberals in California or any other place for that matter dictating them on how to manage their natural resources. I definitely support working with them and sharing what we know about conservation and what we have learned to be best practices, but the implementation should and needs to be African. They live every day with these animals and decisions on how to manage them should fall on them.
We need to understand that hunting in Africa faces unique challenges. The systems we have set up here in the United States are not always a perfect fit. In my book, Why We Hunt: The Five Motivations of the Modern Hunter I lay out some of the challenges they face and why their conservation plan needs to be set up differently.
Many factors go into a conservation plan that works not only for the animals but also the people that live with them. And for a state to pass legislation based on emotion that undermines what is best for these people and the animals is despicable and a classic example of the types of action that are being labled “Racist.”
This law will not affect the hunter that can afford these hunts. They will choose to invest his money elsewhere. Who it does hurt? It will hurt the villages that rely on the hunting industry for meat and jobs. People make their livelihood working as guides, trackers, and workers at lodges and those who do not directly benefit from the jobs still benefit from the meat that is donated to the villages.
This Legislation targets countries populated with People of Color. None of the animals on the banned list come from countries with predominantly white ancestry. This is the definition of racism and white privilege that the liberals in California have been pushing. It is very convenient that when an issue they do not agree with comes up they are so quick to turn and ignore their own definition of racism.
We need to let Africa manage their own natural resources and oppose bills like this one that are based on emotion and not science.