Change, an uncomfortable experience to many, but a necessity on a day to day basis in all walks and forms of life. Sometimes for the bad and yet often for the good. Change is one of life’s absolute certainties, somewhat almost as certain as death and taxes!
As hunters, change has been the order of the day since those early exploits into the wild. Hunting in 2021 is a tactical game of balancing our passion and livelihoods with those that tread the fine line between support and abhorrence. Those that support the lunatic fringes on either sides are
So what do we need to change to start to regroup and build support bases way in excess to where we are now and why have we not arrived yet? Simply put, we have never fought the battles correctly. Our advocacy has never been what is should have been, we have become blinkered in
our myopic sense of routine. The finances that are realised through the actual act of hunting, will never be enough to carry out the projects that ensure our survival. We need to refresh our funding ideas and our funding mantra.
After much thought and consideration, I have finally reached this decision, we need to fundamentally change our advocacy.
If I ever hear the phrase “anti poaching “ again, I will have a melt down. The 2020 and 2021 Covid pandemic has thrust into the spotlight, that this term, is the generic term used for hand outs, begging bowls and a totally false narrative in many cases. Not all, I am extremely respectful of this but a very large number. I do not doubt that the supporters of hunting albeit hunter or non, feel nauseous by now, the requests however heart warming, are now cliched, as is the act of giving money to anti poaching in the traditional manner. This statement will no doubt anger many, it is not meant to but merely to show another option that would be far more productive. My reasoning is this:
The funding of an activity that in essence is only “marking time” for wildlife, needs to change from being a primary funding activity to a by-product of a far more sensible approach. I believe that advocacy needs to change to what I refer to as the “Four Corners of the Pinnacle” or the “4C Project”
The pinnacle representing the overall wellbeing of humans, wildlife and habitat. The act of hunting on its own cannot achieve this, we simply do not have the financial capacity to support and reach this pinnacle.
My idea is as follows, become dedicated to the 4C Project, support the corners in a very specific and targeted manner, fund raising across all fronts needs to change in how we request support, what we are requesting for and the proof and transparency of results of such funding. To constantly request financial support from the public as we do, with no real goal, no real proof of success, no real show of results is an overly flogged, dead horse!
The 4C Project. ( Four corners of the Pinnacle )
The ensuring of a creation of wildlife populations that thrive in a state that is natural or as close to natural as systems allow. Where aged based hunting becomes the norm. Where hunting can back up its claim as to population sizes of species through research and monitoring using scientific
approaches and grid pattered camera trapping and based on results, quotas are carefully set and monitored. Where protocols are adhered to and created in accordance to the systems where such species are found. Overall a responsible outlook on ALL hunting and with the wellbeing and
increase of species within a specified carrying capacity being paramount.
Although the four corners need equal strength, the community corner is an urgent address. Community can be defined not as simply those upon whose land hunting or photograph safaris take place but the community around hunting areas, to the staff family wellbeing upon game ranches . Community has a broad outreach and cannot be pigeon-holed. The various projects that support communities and give them the understanding of the value of wildlife and habitat are not a borehole, a buffalo carcass nor the knowledge that one day their children might become employed in a safari camp, this does not constitute community support, development or education in the greater achievement of the pinnacle. Communities need to be uplifted, they need to have HOPE, schools, clinics, scholarships to universities, they need to be able to have a dream! Funding directed into specifics can do this. Pick a project and fund it, manage it and see the
results, nothing can be more rewarding than this.
Whether you believe in this phenomena or not, it is the single biggest buzz word out there today. There is not a day that goes by that we do not see the results, the protests, the primal fear that it creates in humanity. It is exploited in advertising, it is used in every walk of life, from emptying your dustbin to threatening multinational corporations existence and believe it or not, the mere fact that this threat, perceived or not, gives us, as the hunting fraternity, the most powerful argument we have had yet but do we use it? NO we do not! We hold, what the so called “civilized” world demands, re-wilding, re-creation of habitat, growth of trees, the creation of carbon sinks, name anything that appertains to what is now used to fight
this phenomena, we have it, we do not need to create it! We need to drive our knowledge of the natural world that we protect, that we hold custodianship over, that we fund, that we ensure land use change does not occur. We hold the key keeping our wilderness and we need to campaign for why hunting plays one of the singularly largest roles in the defence of this planet. An unequivocal fact. We need to drive a media project like we never have and we need to do this from all sides of our hunting world.
The first three corners are macro events and hence not always supported by the rank and file of us in this community, not always possible in the financial magnitude demanded. However for the final corner in the creation of the pinnacle, we hold the ace! Context, what is context in what we do insofar as hunting?
It is that day to day, deliberate information we place in social media, on websites, in our general demeanour in describing a hunt to someone, the vocabulary we use, the terminology that we vocalise, be it in casual conversation or in public forums. This, we have the ability or the choice should I say, to change to the full.
The posting of a dead animal on social media, the use of a brash and thoughtless “we smoked it” destroys and removes any context other than hate, the projection of a casual, disrespectful, action and one that even the fence sitter will baulk at!
We need to become wise in how we project ourselves and we will win peoples support. Post your game photos by all means but include a story, include a small selection of photos that project an experience for the body of a dead lion is simply that, a dead lion!
Our future has always been fragile and evermore so in todays world. If we build the 4C Project we will not only survive but become a beacon of hope to many and once the four corners start to take shape, anti poaching will become the very by-product that is should be, a by-product of a new and refreshing outlook, for our pinnacle will ensure far more than the constant pouring of funds into what amounts to, generally speaking, another black hole in a universe of hunting defence and reality in saving that which we love.
Paul Stones ( Professional Hunter )
“The systematic demise of hunting as a conservation tool, will be the absolute demise of African wild life”