Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Reminder to Us All

My good friend Mike Baker got back from Africa a few days after I did, but to a substantially different reception. Mike, along with Tony Makris, produce the long-running UNDER WILD SKIES, an African safari series currently on NBC Sports channel. Here's what they came home to, from the LA Times:
In the episode, which aired Sunday night (a highlight reel is posted above), host Tony Makris and a guide stalk an elephant in the Okavango Delta of Botswana -- "a mecca for elephant hunting," according to a narrator. 
Makris boasts of his "positively lethal" rifle and the .577 ammunition ("made to kill ivory") used to take down the beast. Hiding in a bush, he fires two shots a the "cheeky" pachyderm, who runs away. Makris and his guide eventually catch up to the elephant, killing it. They later celebrate the kill with a bottle of Champagne.
Here's the really nasty stuff.

The elephant hunt was perfectly legal. Yes, Botswana is closing its borders to hunting of any kind, and if you'd like to ready an intelligent article on the subject, I suggest Dr. Kevin Robert's thoughtful article in Sports Afield
Banning sport hunting is not going to make all these problems disappear—that is for sure. You and I both know this. In fact, it is only going to make things worse. Subsistence poaching is going to escalate as rural communities lose the funds sport hunting once generated. When this happens, even more pressure is going to be placed upon the dwindling antelope numbers. When wildlife loses its economic value, it is replaced with something that is valuable. Look at what has happened in Kenya, for example. This once wonderfully rich wildlife country has, since the banning of sport hunting, lost 80 percent of its wildlife. Only time will tell if Botswana walks the same path.
I'm not going to go full rant on the level of hypocrisy that is intrinsic in the antihunting fanatics — even if you only eat free-range, grass-fed beef "harvested" in the most humane manner, and you know the name of the pig who ended up as your chops, I can assure you that the cow didn't go happily to the bolt, the pig to the charcuterie, even that wild salmon to the net. We outsource our killing and pretend that act makes us virtuous. 

We forget the admonition of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." We tamed the world, then we want to step back and let Nature — definitely with a capital "N" — take its course. The "wild" that we seek to preserve for the most part isn't any different than the park closest to your requires management to exist. Even Etosha, larger than Switzerland, is not a preservation of the wild, but a recreation of the wild — by 1900 all the elephants, lions, leopards and other large animals were gone, victims of overhunting and the move to a ranching/farming economy. Etosha was created, and carefully managed.

An analogy, no matter how big a glass aquarium you get for your house, you can never simply let that aquarium go wild, that is, stop your regular maintenance and let nature take its course. Should you do that, the "course" nature will take ends up a stinking bowl of fetid water and dead fish and plants.

 I could talk about the competing economics of hunting and ecotourism, but I suspect none of that matters in this conversation. Rather, in the First World we have moved toward a culture that places value on "experiences" rather than real experience. For example, is there any need to travel the world when you can get that international "experience" at Epcot in Florida? Should we have to deal with the chaotic, often bloody mess of Africa when we can go to Busch Gardens in Tampa and:
Feel yourself being swept away to the African veldt on an open-truck tour that takes you up close to the wonders of our 65-acre Serengeti Plain, where you'll meet some magnificent animals.  
Get nose-to-nose with a giraffe. Learn a thing or two about zebras you never knew until you got this close. Understand exotic species like bongo, eland and ostrich as your guide helps bring you closer to the wildlife and wild places in this world we share.
...a wildlife "experience" as U2 might say, even better than the Real Thing.

Maybe I'm just being crotchety this morning, but my idea of a nightmare is a world of "experiences" bereft of real experience.

"Take a deep breath and remember that the whole world sucks, America sucks less, and Texas during deer season doesn't suck at all." 
— Brother Ted Nugent


Jasonfb said...

It will be an uphill battle at best to make people see the depths of their hypocrisy. It makes me wonder when I see folks appalled by foie gras and not by hot dogs. I see it the other way around but then I like good food. Any corporation will bend to public opinion when it affects the bottom line, they have a responsibility to the shareholders so we cannot expect them change. There are for schools that will teach hunting is OK so we cannot expect them to change. I guess we all just have to take a kid hunting. Darn it! :)

RickP said...

I saw that episode and I was surprised to see the critter head off. Was a first for me on TV but that's hunting.

"Elephant numbers in Botswana, however, have declined so greatly that a ban on hunting has been legislated." That's just total B.S. They have sooooo many elephants that this ban is going to allow them to decimate their environment. So stupid.

From what I understand (but that might not mean much) is that elephants can still be hunted on private land but no longer public lands, no no.

This is a perfect example of what will happen when feeling for big eyed critters that most people see in zoos and carnivals overwrites the logic of proper game management. Friggin' idiots.

Unfortunately, most retards think that they can get the same experience at Epcot for a cheaper price rather than stepping foot into a foreign land like Africa. Well, guess what, it's not going to happen. You won't get chewed on by a croc if you get too close to the water, no hippo is going to skewer you with his tusks if you get between him and "his" water, no cobra is going to rise on you for getting too close, no buff is going to gore you because "you owe him money", etc.

Friggin' idiots. So long as they have their unemployment check, WIC card, cable tv, internet and Obama phone, they must be living in the real world.

James said...

M. Bane, you are doing it right if you are exhausted from vacation. And, omg, that sounds like a king vacation. Back to battle stations.