Monday, August 03, 2015

A Sense of Proportion

Scottie Westfall sent this "meme":
Including two unrelated ones I knew. Just sayin'...

12 comments:

Moro Rogers said...

Well, familiarity breeds contempt, and nobody is familiar with lions.

Retrieverman said...

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/08/05/opinion/in-zimbabwe-we-dont-cry-for-lions.html?referrer&_r=0

Zimbabwean on how they actually feel about lions.

R Francis said...

Last time I looked neither Mugabe nor homo sapiens was an endangered species...just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Well, some of us ARE familiar with lions, which is why(those we know personally, anyway) we wouldn't think of shooting them! I am also familiar with a lot of humans I couldn't say the same about! Just sayin'--although YES, it IS ridiculous that such a phenomenon/comparison exists, and that ain't lyin!(ahem!).....L.B.

Anonymous said...

please write a book in defense of sporting hunting...
who can write better than you?

Stacia said...

I’m an avid hunter and fisherman, but also a biologist. I understand that the death of individual organisms--legally or illegally, natural or unnatural--has NO biological impact on a population of organisms (whatever the species)…unless that population is so small, isolated and/or critically endangered (eg, Spix’s Macaws that you count on one hand) that the loss of even one single individual will affect the survival of that population. Very rarely is this the case in wild populations, and certainly not the case with African lions. Lions are not endangered. They are hunted all the time by Africans.

The problem I have with this dentist, Walter Palmer, is that he “baited the lion”. The lion was safe on the preserve, but he baited it so that the lion would walk off the refuge property, where he could kill it. Baiting game is illegal in almost all U.S. states that I know. It is unethical. Does this fact matter biologically? No. That is the only answer that matters in science/ecology. Nature does not care about ethics. The wild lion population is not threatened or endangered by the death of Cecil.

However, there is an ethical concept in hunting called “Fair Chase”. This is where the hunter and the hunted have equal chances of failure (ie, the hunted has a fair chance of escape). I guess the dentist didn’t want to risk NOT bagging a lion trophy after paying $50,000 in expenses, so they set up an illegal and sure kill. This is hardly hunting; it is not hunting at all. It seems more like a “canned hunt” to me, which I am also ethically against.

He used a bow, which only injured the lion, tracking it for 2 days until it was shot to death. Why would a hunter use an inappropriate weapon to kill a large predator? Most would have used a high-powered rifle, suitable for the game taken.

And, Walter Palmer has a history of illegal hunting: He was fined $3,000 by the USF&WS for killing a bear in a prohibited area, but reporting that he killed it in a legal area (he carried the carcass 40 miles to the legal area as a ruse!) The guy is a liar and law-breaker, in my opinion. Not somebody I’d want to represent me as a hunter. He’s making all hunters look bad with his lack of discretion and incompetence.

http://heavy.com/news/2015/07/walter-palmer-lied-federal-agents-2006-bear-hunt-guilty-plea-conviction-prison-fine-court-documents-criminal-record-wisconsin-minnesota-dentist-dds/

Federico said...

Well, irrespective Mugabe's record there are so many issues with Theo Bronkhorst's behaviour, and with Walter Palmer's decision to go along with it, that it is difficult to know where to start. Both have done uncountable damage to hunters worldwide. In addition they are highlighting a behaviour that has the potential to be the downfall of hunters worldwide: the closing of ranks with 'fellow hunter' Palmer, which is utterly wrong. The whole 'lions are dangerous, how can you like them' spiel is also utterly misguided. The bottom line is, if hunters want to show that what they are doing is an acceptable activity in the 21st century (which, in very many cases *it is*) they need to take a stance and show hunting can be done ethically, in the ethical contest of the 21st century. Hunters should be the first to be appalled by the baiting of game, especially when it is done near a protected area. If people want to hunt for a trophy it should be recognised that the trophy is nothing but the external manifestation of internalised skills. Shooting a lion that someone else found for you, someone else tracked for you is no skill whatsoever, and should be considered, first of off by hunters, a shameful farce. Either you are good enough to take game in the fairest possible way, by means of your hard won skill, or you should not even try.

I do admit the bulk of these ideas comes from this piece, by a mile the best on this issue, by someone who is a hunter and who has the clarity and wherewithal to understand the world 'as it is', not the 'world as we wish it were':

http://bedrockandparadox.com/2015/08/06/those-trophy-hunters/

Steve Bodio said...

Federico, that says every part of what I want-- well, the young, rural- born Zimbabwean student in the NYT had a point too-- that I would like to put it in an Update,if you permit. And Stacia did a good job of revealing Walter Palmer's record. I think, if found guilty, he should be fined by Zimbabwe for the maximum amount, and dropped and shamed by any organization he belongs to; I think his guide should lose his licenses.

What I do think, something one could take for granted in America and western Europe, is that he would receive a thorough investigation under law, and be punished under rational law. (Zimbabwe's CONSERVATION programs are or at least were more flexible and more rigorous than ours)

What I dislike is the ill- informed howling mob in the vast cyber- collosseum howling for blood, for execution; even for a show trial by a corrupt and cynical government who can use it to taunt the west. When is the last time you heard of someone being extradited for poaching?

And do they even know what "sport" hunting is, or isn't? If you banned it overnight in Africa you would without a doubt lose habitat and probably species. The worst outcome of all this may well be the ban by major airlines on carrying trophies, including legal and common ones. Buffalo?! But for size and danger you might as well ban deer. There goes a good chunk of the rationale for habitat preservation in the face of expanding human populations (sadly perhaps, but realistically).

This will not end well. The heedless Dr Palmer may have helped kill the thing he allegedly loved. Some Utopian theorists think that direct, real time, cyber democracy is a good idea. I don't...

Stacia said...

Frederico, I agree with you 100%. I feel the same way about falconry, which to me, should be the sport of a Naturalist. When I became a falconer 30+ years ago, one had to know natural history to be a successful falconer: how to locate game habitat, build traps to catch a wild raptor, make leather equipment, learn the habits and behavior of predator and prey species, migration patterns and the seasons, basic ornithology and veterinary medicine. And, of course, one had to know the applicable hunting laws. A prospective falconer had to know how to tame and train a wild raptor, keep the feathers in excellent condition, and manage its weight precisely (otherwise, the raptor would be lost during free flight).

Today, many falconers are so far from these standards that I would not call them "falconers". I would call them "bird keepers", akin to keepers of domestic livestock. Bird keepers do not know the natural history or origin of their birds; they do not understand predator-prey relationships; they cannot judge or find habitat suitable for hunting. They cannot hood-train a hawk. They cannot keep a raptor in good condition, health and feather. They cannot identify wildlife species, fauna or flora.

Bird keepers hunt planted or bagged quarry and consider it real hunting. They buy commercial raptors--any color, any size, any species--from a vendor that customizes the order (raises and trains the bird in the desired manner) and ships it directly to their doorstep. They buy expensive telemetry, GPS or gadgetry for their bird so they don't have to learn proper weight management or how to make falconry equipment. They pay premium dollars for these services, not unlike Walter Palmer, making it a sport for the wealthy, the incompetent, the uneducated and the lazy.

It is an overall lowering of the standards, and it's only getting worse with time. My colleagues have a term for this: Credit Card Falconry. It's becoming the state of all things in the modern world.

Federico said...

Dear Steve,

unfortunately in 2015 the cyber mobs are out, and this is not going to change. That is why anybody who has any common sense would not make public images of a trophy hunt, especially the standard ghastly 'dead animal + smiling hunter' picture. This kind of picture is the equivalent of blackface minstrels, and should go extinct as well. If people feel the need to display in public the result of a hunt, I would sent them to Chad Love's blog. He has posted at least two pictures of deer he shot, and they are the gold standard of 'trophy' photography: Chad took pictures that show only (1) the deer, (2) the rifle he used, (3) the environment where the hunt took place. Aside from being proper mementos with an artistic value, these pictures show no macho posturing and the least people can hold on to start a pitchfork mob. As a general rule though, it is difficult to complain when personal and private actions are displayed in public. If the public does not share the congratulatory feeling, you have yourself to blame. Admittedly Palmer did get burned by the fact the lion had a radio collar, but he did not help his case by posting online pictures of himself with animals he had killed before.

Second, I alway prided myself in a fact based pragmatic approach to conservation. I have a strong dislike for 'greens', people who strike me as having nothing more that a infantile connection with nature, and they offend my cranky disposition with their cuddly approach to animals. I find the idea of killing animals for the purpose of getting a 'trophy' distasteful, but I always held the opinion that, distasteful or not, trophy hunting had a place in conservation, and thus I was ok with it. The rationale for this approach hinges on the expectation that the revenue from hunting is used to (1) actively protect wildlife and natural environments and (2) it decreases the human/animal conflict. If corrupt politician X takes the money and spends in on Ferraris neither condition is met and trophy hunting is a net loss. Thus my assumption that the revenue is spent for conservation, in general, and to decrease conflict between animals and the people who have to actually live with them *needs to be checked, and needs to be checked every time*. Lord, I am a retentive bastard aren't I? Well, this whole affair made me look deeper in the issue, and in the case of lions it looks like that trophy hunting does not meet either requirement in any significant way [1], and thus (1) does next to nothing for actual lion conservation and (2) does a lot of damage to the image of hunting and hunters. Now, I recognise the world is complex and stuff changes. I am open to the idea that trophy hunting, while being a negative for lion conservation, can be a positive for the conservation of other species. But, as I mentioned before, just because money changes hand we cannot just assume that the money will benefit conservation. We need to check, every damn time, and we need to keep checking, if the goal is 'conservation' as opposed to 'shooting trophy animals'.

[1] while some people might find this report partisan it is properly sourced, and actually pretty sound: http://www.ifaw.org/sites/default/files/Ecolarge-2013-200m-question.pdf

Federico said...

Steve, I realise I did not reply to 'well, the young, rural- born Zimbabwean student in the NYT had a point too-- that I would like to put it in an Update,if you permit'. Well, it is *your* blog, not mine, you surely do not need my permission to do anything you want on it!

Anonymous said...

I am always torn on the subject of "trophy hunting"--it is definitely something I would never do myself, yet one cannot help but admit(if one knows one's facts and studies the results of such) that by giving wildlife monetary value, habitat and wildlife are preserved in a way and at a time they would not otherwise be. Tourism alone(though FANTASTIC!) doesn't seem to completely fill the bill(yet). But NO, things like this incident don't help ANYBODY! Except maybe the shrillest of AR's! In regards to lions--they may not be seriously endangered YET, but they are certainly headed that way if things continue as they are, and it won't be many more years before they ARE as endangered as wild tigers, which also used to be a commonly sport-hunted species! One thing that MIGHT save lions is if the local people see that crazy rich wazungu paying them ungodly amounts of money to shoot a "trophy"(old and preferably exiled from any pride) male, pays much better dividends than killing lions that are taking their scrawny cattle and goats(POISONING being the WORST and most devastating method, to lions and everything else it kills indiscriminantly!) But YES, controls and ethics MUST be a STRICT part of such hunting. Baiting out of preserved areas, killing well-known lion celebrities, disrupting existing prides--a resounding NO! Auctionning off the "privilege" of taking out the livestock killing, occaisinal man-eating lion(like the "Maneater of Mufuwe" scenario! Look up THAT incident!)--are the best possible ways to "manage" both lions AND their hunters! Just some more thoughts to ruminate on(not that I'm a ruminate...).....L.B.