The topic of hunting has been debated for many years. On the one hand, some are opposed to hunting as they perceive it to be cruel and barbaric – a practice that has no place in their modern, technologically driven world. In fact, many are of the opinion that hunting should be prohibited and that no person should ever be allowed to hunt. On the other hand, other people, such as those living in rural communities, depend on hunting to sustain their livelihoods. These people have been raised on hunted food and their hunting skills and techniques have been passed down through generations. In this article, we consider four positive effects of hunting.
We under no circumstances support canned hunting or the hunting of our Big Five. This article focuses on wing-shooting and plains game hunting.
First a brief look at how hunting began in South Africa
In the early 1950s, South Africa’s wildlife populations were alarmingly small, with certain species even teetering on the brink of extinction. During this period, South Africa was home to a mere half a million wild animals, and concerns over dwindling wildlife became a priority. One of the South African government’s solutions to the emerging problem was to approach private landowners and ask if they would be willing to have game on their properties, which would allow them full ownership and responsibility for the animals. This arrangement led to the game no longer being ‘res nullius’, meaning that the game that previously belonging to no-one was now housed on private property and privately owned. Naturally, landowners agreed to this arrangement, as having wild animals would increase the aesthetic appeal of their farms. They were happy to take on the important task of conserving South Africa’s wildlife.
Due to the wildlife being well cared for in its natural habitat, the animal populations began to increase resulting in some farmers not being able to sustain them on their properties. They therefore decided to relocate animals to other farms in the country, where the animals thrived and their numbers increased further. This resulted in a new dilemma: namely overpopulation. Currently, the wildlife population in South Africa is strong, with most animals in private ownership.
We now take a look at four positive effects of hunting:
Hunting for animal population control
Owing to its prolific game, South Africa soon became a sought after destination for hunters from all over the world, especially after Kenya banned hunting. Increased animal populations cause overgrazing, which affects the natural environment negatively, particularly if predators are scarce. Overgrazing causes soil erosion, resulting in uninhabitable land. Research has shown that some animal populations may grow so large that they damage the ecosystem and personal property. The control and management of animal populations is therefore important, which is why selective hunting plays a vital role in the cycle of life.
Hunting for food
Hunting pheasants, ducks and fowl is an age-old tradition that can be traced back to medieval times. However, modernisation has reduced the need to hunt, as we now purchase our food at supermarkets, from freezers and off shelves. This is convenient for city dwellers, but hunting may be the only option to put food on the table for those who live in the countryside, far from shops and butcheries.
Hunting for recreation
While this idea may be difficult for non-hunters to acknowledge, hunting can actually be a bonding activity between families and friends. Hunting isn’t a point and shoot game – it requires skill, patience and dedication, something which can take years to refine.
The business of hunting
Most people who are against hunting may think hunters don’t care at all about nature and merely kill animals for their own pleasure. Yet, if it weren’t for hunters, animals would be unable to thrive in their natural habitats. The money accumulated from the payment of hunting licenses is vested in programmes that protect and enhance the quality of life for animals, as well as for the up-keep of their natural habitats. In other words: hunters pay for the maintenance and care of animals, without which farmers would not be able to afford to keep them and would consider other means to sustain their livelihoods. What would happen to our wildlife then? Where would the animals go and who would look after them? Hunting, provided it is well regulated, may help in preventing species from becoming extinct.
Undoubtedly, there are positive qualities to hunting expeditions in South Africa if they are undertaken in a controlled and legal environment.