So the political left is still reveling in its Two Minutes Hate in behalf of Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who killed a lion in Africa and now finds himself in the crosshairs of every kook and crazy from Berkeley to Bangor. With the help of local hunting guides, Palmer shot and eventually killed a mature male lion. Sadly, his trophy turned out to be a well-known local lion dubbed Cecil. Palmer, who paid the government of Zimbabwe $55,000 for his hunting permit, has professed his innocence:
“I hired several professional guides, and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted. I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt. I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt. Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”
Seems reasonable, but leftism isn’t about reason. It’s about outrage.
Two Twisted Tails
With the big-cat brouhaha coinciding with the release of damning videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s ghoulish practice of “parting out” aborted human fetuses, many conservatives have criticized the left-slanted media for its over-the-top, foaming-at-the-mouth indignation over the death of a single African lion, while at the same time defending an organization that destroys well over 300,000 human lives every year. Kill a cuddly predator and you’re an evildoer. Dismember tiny humans and sell the pieces for profit and you’re a paragon of virtue.
It’s a fair argument. According to Newsbusters, the three broadcast networks spent a combined 13 minutes of air time in just the first two days of the SlaughterGate scandal. Jimmy Kimmel melted in actual tears, devoting 4 minutes and 42 seconds of his own show to “Cecil B. Demise.” Well-known anti-gunner Piers Morgan actually resorted to death threats, promising to “track down fat, greedy, selfish, murderous” dentist and “skin him alive, cut his head from his neck.”
In comparison, the alphabet networks devoted about nine minutes to the Planned Parenthood story over a full week’s time—and much of that in defense of the taxpayer-funded butchers who are special darlings of the left. Truly a pitiful comparison.
Hunting in Africa
I don’t think we really know at this point whether Walter Palmer’s hunt was legal or not. Regardless of whether he “got his lions crossed” intentionally or by accident, trophy hunting is both legal and necessary in Africa.
To the shock and dismay of leftists everywhere, conservation efforts costs money. Animals are a resource, and managing and protecting their populations is no easy task.
Between 1975 and 2015 the lion population plummeted from about 250,000 to somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000. Wide-scale poaching coupled with government corruption and political instability (including civil war, in several African countries) fostered a free-for-all attitude in countries with big-game populations. This began to change in the 1970s and 1980s as managed hunting became a major way to fund efforts to preserve wildlife populations.
An important 2006 study by Lindsey, Roulet and Romañach concluded that “trophy hunting generates gross revenues of at least $201 million per year in sub-Saharan Africa: from a minimum of 18,500 clients.” The studies’ authors point out that well-managed hunting creates “economic incentives for conservation over vast areas.” When they allow hunters to pay substantial sums of money to take a few individual animals, governments can leverage those fees to protect the rest of the animals year-round. It’s not like Zimbabwe can hold a bake sale to raise the millions it takes to patrol game reserves, apprehend poachers, and prevent locals from claiming a freebie once in a while. Hunting provides the funds to do all of that.
According to the study’s authors:
Well monitored trophy hunting is inherently self-regulating, because modest off-take is required to ensure high trophy quality and thus marketability of the area in future seasons. Accordingly, off-takes for many species are well below available quotas. On a local level, financial incentives for sustainable hunting are likely to be most effective where the same hunting operators are given tenure over hunting areas for multiple seasons.
To a liberal, this is downright incomprehensible. Somehow, market economies and the profit motive actually manage to accomplish what wishes and fairy dust can’t—allowing cash-poor countries to protect resources while creating incentives that allow animals to thrive. The authors note that private preserves in South Africa have contributed to the recovery of populations of several nearly extinct species, including the bontebok, the black wildebeest and the cape mountain zebra. Private, for-profit game ranches have also been instrumental in the preservation and reintroduction of the white rhino population.
In addition, trophy hunting creates conditions that allow the environment itself to recover. The authors point to the “rehabilitation of wildlife areas” that results when managed hunting is used to support conservation efforts.
Hunting in the U.S.
Here at home, hunting is a major force in ensuring that native wildlife populations remain healthy. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “The sale of hunting licenses, tags, and stamps is the primary source of funding for most state wildlife conservation efforts.” (emphasis added)
Back in 1937, recognizing the need for conservation efforts, American hunters united to encourage an 11-percent tax on guns, ammo, and archery equipment to help fund conservation. That tax continues to generate nearly $400 million a year, and has raised more than $7.2 billion for wildlife conservation. Hunting activities fund conservation while also providing a boost to the economy, counting for about $38 billion per year in retail spending. It supports 680,000 jobs, from game wardens to biologists to tourism workers.
At the beginning of the 20th century, due to poaching and over-harvesting, only 41,000 elk, 500,000 whitetail deer, and about 100,000 wild turkeys remained. Pronghorn and many breeds of duck had been harvested nearly to extinction. Today, thanks to the conservation efforts funded and supported by hunters, there are over 1 million elk, 32 million whitetails, 7 million wild turkeys, 44 million ducks and 1.1 million pronghorns.
African Game in Texas
One of the best success stories—and worst disasters—involves ranchers in Texas whose efforts helped rescue several species of African animals from near extinction. Private landowners in Texas purchased herds of three varieties of endangered antelope—the adda, the dama gazelle, and the scimitar-horned oryx—and transported them to faux savannahs in the Lone Star State. Beginning with some 1,800 animals, the ranchers were able to grow their herds to over 17,000 in just six years—an ecological win by anyone’s standards.
Remember: these are highly endangered species. They were quite literally saved by hunters, who paid huge fees for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bag an endangered oryx or gazelle without even having to leave the United States. The arrangement was only possible because of a Bush-era exemption to the Endangered Species Act which allowed for-profit ranchers to fund conservation efforts through managed hunting.
Predictably, a lawsuit by Friends of Animals, an eco-advocacy organization, put a stop to all of that. Helped along by the liberal media (including a fawning story on CBS’s “60 Minutes”) Friends of Animals successfully petitioned the Obama administration’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the exemption that allowed ranchers to turn a profit while at the same time helping endangered species.
In 2012, the agency capitulated, sticking ranchers with thousands of animals they own but can’t do anything with. They can’t allow hunters to cull the herds, and they lost money every year as they continue to pay for the management of huge herds of endangered animals. And of course without the profit motive, no American rancher is likely to make additional efforts to work with “toxic species” in the foreseeable future.
Haters Gonna Hate
Self-defense advocates love to point to mountains of evidence that guns save lives. This fact is never more true than in the context of hunting. Hunting makes sense. It generates revenue and it supports conservation. Both in Africa and in the United States, hunting revenues helps maintain wildlife and bring back threatened species.
But thanks to liberal environmentalists who care so hard about animals, trophy hunters are in danger becoming the endangered species. Apparently these eco-nuts are willing to see animals become extinct as long as evil hunters can’t shoot them for fun. It’s a lose-lose-lose situation, and it’s entirely the fault of liberals and their hatred of hunting, hunters and capitalism.