Here are some negative comments I have received recently via Facebook and email:
Date: 30 July 2015
From: Shauna Carroll
You are everything that is wrong with mankind today. By all means do your hunting…but maybe try without a gun and you will find that will be your last hunt. Fair game with a gun? I think not you’re a disgusting, vile and poor excuse of a man!
To hunt these incredible, majestic animals there is clearly something wrong in your head…probably hiding some deeper, darker, ugly secret. That is all.
Every now and then I receive an email from someone I do not know along the lines of the one you wrote to me. Some are far harsher and threaten to kill me or hope I contract cancer and die a lingering and painful death. Normally I ignore them because I do not know where to begin to reply. There just seems such a gaping chasm between what I believe and practice and views like yours, plus I often experience the knee-jerk response of wanting to reply in kind. At any rate, let me try and explain why I do what I do.
Firstly, let me say at the outset that my life’s passion has been the conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat in Africa, in general, and South Africa, in particular, and I have devoted most of my disposable time, effort and money to this cause. I am a trustee of WWF Southern Africa, a life member of the Endangered Wildlife Trust and a founder member of both the Peace Parks Foundation and the SA Wildlife College as well as a life member of six hunting and conservation associations.
About nine years ago I listened to Canada’s top wildlife biologist, Shane Mahoney, speak in Belgrade after the showing of the documentary of North American Conservation Model and resolved to see if I could do something similar in Southern Africa. After six years of research, together with him, I produced the South African Conservation Success Story. The empirical research for the project was checked by an independent researcher over nine months and disclosed the following facts:
- By the 1960s two wild animals were extinct in South Africa – the blue buck and the quagga (a kind of zebra).
- Four more animals were following hot on their heels – black wildebeest (34), bontebok (17), Cape mountain zebra (there were 11 left of which only five were females) and, according to Dr Ian Player, less than 50 white rhinoceroses.
- According to a survey done in 1964 and published in Professor Jane Carruther’s book, Wilding the Farm or Farming the Wild, there were less than 557 000 head of game left in the country.
- The reasons for the dramatic decline were many – the Anglo/Boer War, the two World Wars, the Depression in between, disease (the Rinderpest plague), misguided government killing (because they thought wildlife harboured the tsetse fly, which cause death through sleeping sickness in humans and nagan in cattle), commercial killings for hides and ivory and the biggest cause of all, domestic livestock farmers who killed game indiscriminantly because they thought it harboured disease and competed with their livestock for food and water.
- In 2005 when the survey was repeated, game numbers had climbed to 18,7 million animals. Those on the verge of extinction had recovered and, in fact, those that had been hunted most assiduously had recovered best. There were nearly 20 000 rhinos and 34 000 black wildebeest but, because of restrictions affecting the hunting of the other two species, there were only some 1 200 Cape mountain zebra and less than 5 000 bontebok. Why?
- In 1977 hunting was banned in Kenya and a little later in Tanzania and Uganda. Although the latter two countries reversed their bans, Kenya did not do so and, by their own admission, have lost some 80% of their wildlife while the other two countries have not.
- This was very fortunate for conservation in South Africa because the demand for hunting moved south and soon farmers here were being offered more for a springbok than a sheep, more for a kudu than a cow. They stopped decimating the game because it was valuable. From three game ranches in the country in the 1970s, we now have over 12 000. Land under game covers some 21 million hectares, more than three times all the land covered by our national and provincial parks and game reserves put together. And this was all funded by hunting.
- I was one of those who wanted to play a part and, 25 years ago bought a bankrupt, eroded, 7 000 acre, sheep and goat farm in the Karoo, a dry, semi-arid region of South Africa unsuitable for crops or livestock and, over the next 20 years, devoted all my spare time, money and effort returning it to what it once was. I took out all the internal fences, rehabilitated the land and natural vegetation and re-introduced all the animals that once roamed the region, some 22 species and subspecies in all. It was and is my pride and joy but, without the revenue from hunting, culling and live game sales to other game ranchers, I would not have been able to achieve what I did and I am but one of 12 000 others.
- The above are some of the objective reasons why I hunt but do not explain the subjective ones. Why is it that some of use, particularly those of us in Africa who live close to nature, can love wildlife with such a passion and yet kill them. It is a conundrum that has occupied much of my thought. The best I can come up with is that we have been on this earth, in more or less our current form, for about 200 000 years. Agriculture was only developed 10 000 years ago and refrigeration has only been common place for about 300. So, for some 95% of the time we have been around, men and women have hunted to provide for and protect their families and, for some of us, particularly those who live close or closer to nature than others, the hunting genes are still strong.
- At the end of the day, I believe with every fibre of my being, based on what I have seen and learnt in my regular travels around over 20 African countries (where most game reserves and national parks are only lines on a map) that, without hunting, wildlife and wildlife habitat will disappear in Africa and soon. This is not only my view but that of many august conservation bodies around the world. If after reading this you are interested to learn more, send me your postal address and I will mail you a copy of my documentary. It is purely factual. No animal is killed on it. And you can make up your own mind.
Shauna Carroll’s response:
The fact you feel the need to reply with an essay to justify your actions doesn’t make what you do any more acceptable. You are painting yourself out to be a giving human being who is looking after the animals, that is clearly not the case when you hunt them yourself.
We clearly disagree and maybe you should look at the outcry following Cecil’s death and relook at your own motives/actions…its like me saying I kill children but its ok because i am a volunteer at NSPCC…
Thank you for your email. Firstly, hunting and caring deeply about wildlife and wildlife habitat are not mutually exclusive as you say. Given that land available for wildlife is limited and wildlife reproduces at between 25 to 35% per annum, sooner or later given their increasingly restricted available habitat, animals will have to be hunted, culled or caught, else they will starve to death as is happening in Botswana currently.
Secondly, I have always opposed poaching wherever and whenever I have come across it and that is what happened to Cecil. The reality is that animals are poached in their hundreds every day in Africa and, to quote but one example, poachers, predominantly from Mocambique, have killed some 500 rare and scarce rhinos and hacked off their horns – often while they were still alive – in just one national park in South Africa this year alone. Cecil was poached without a licence on land confiscated from the original owner by President Mugabe and given to one Happy Ndlovu.
Thirdly, to state the obvious, killing a child is murder and illegal while hunting is neither but, as I tried to show, an essential part of conservation in Africa. But let me ask you this – do you eat meat? Do you wear leather shoes or sit in cars with leather seats? How much time, effort and money do you devote to the conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat in Africa or elsewhere? Or do you confine your efforts to sending emails like the ones you have sent to me? If you want to do more, I am happy to devote the time and effort to show you how you can.
Shauna Carroll’s response:
Thank you for your email. Actually no you are the first I have emailed as a news article about yourself appeared in light of Cecil and the dentist was at that point unreachable…
I think its great you are involved in these projects but why would you want to kill the animal as part of this?
I am involved in homeless charities and raise for an animal charity in Thailand. For me its just the killing of these incredible animals and I cannot for the life of me work out why you would.
Thank you for your prompt reply. You pose a question that every genuine hunter wrestles with regularly and I am no exception. Quite simply, how can we kill the animals we are so passionate about and spend so much time, effort and money conserving? I tried to answer this in my first email to you but clearly did not do a good enough job and I am not sure I can do any better on the second attempt. I think there are some things that make and have made it easier, for example:
- I spent a lot of my formative years in a rural environment and killing animals our own animals ourselves to eat, whether they were chickens that roamed the farmyard or lambs or sheep that lived in the pastures, was an everyday event. It was no big deal and I can remember vividly as a little boy watching my grandfather cut the head off a chicken, which somehow got away from him and ran around the yard without a head. It was fascinatingly horrible.
- So, when I shot my first game animal at the age of nine, it was no big deal and I certainly did not lose any sleep over it, even though I found the gralloching of the ram as fascinatingly horrible as the chicken. In fact, when I returned to the farm house I was feted as a little hero.
- In the rural areas of the Karoo, each year farmers would take turns, usually once a year, to help one another cull their excess game and, as a teenager and member of our school shooting team, I was often asked to participate in these events to ensure the game, typically springbok, was quickly and cleanly killed and not wounded.
- I was conscripted straight out of school into the army along with most boys my age and, although to the best of my knowledge I did not kill anyone then or later, my training was all about teaching me to do so.
- The first ten years of ownership of our own game ranch were very tough. We had little money, the ranch generated little or no revenue and I bought it at the start of a ten year drought. I will never forget arriving on the ranch during one lambing season and seeing the veld full of the dead white bellies of the young abandoned by their mothers. I stopped counting when I reached three hundred. I could not bear to stay and admit I fled. I never allowed that to happen again and both always ensured I had enough food on the ground for two years and counted my game by helicopter every year so that I knew how many head of game to hunt, cull and capture each year. To save money, I did the early culling myself. Not pleasant but necessary. To give you an idea, the most we ever had to cull was 600 springbok in three consecutive nights – culling is mostly done at night with a light and the animals shot in the head.
- Hunting brought in the best revenue on the ranch because the trophy hunters only wanted the head, horns and hide and we kept the meat. Typically, only old male animals were hunted that were out of the herd, no longer breeding, in the last years of their life and those who would die in the current or next winter season. When you saw these old animals – and some would come and shelter on our stoop at night – it was often a pathetic sight. They had lost most of the hair on their hides and their body fat. Their teeth were worn to stubs so they could not chew their food sufficiently to digest it properly and extract the necessary nutrients. They quite literally froze and/or starved to death. The predators on the ranch – caracal, jackal and fox – would pull down these old animals and eat them alive. I often though that I was doing them a favour. Death by a bullet to the head must have been a relief and a decent death compared to what the predators dealt out.
- But I have never become used to killing and, if it does not sound maudlin – and I have admitted this more than once in writing in the past – there has been many a time when I have had a huge lump in my throat and once, unaccountably, tears streamed down my face.
I think, however, if we are to continue this debate, you should really have a look at The South African Conservation Success Story documentary. If you can email an accessible address, I will mail you one for free. Once you have watched it, you may understand my point of departure on conservation a bit better.
Date: 30 July 2015
From: Simona Fricker
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/simona.fricker.5
Date: 30 July 2015
From: Juan Carlos
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=714903239
Comment: We should start shaming all of these idiots, one by one!!!!
Date: 30 July 2015
From: Mark Lederman
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mark.lederman.716
Comment: You vile piece of shit.
Date: 30 July 2015
From: I will Kill you
Peter, you are the most fucking disgusting cunt on earth apart from this Theo fucker boer (as you might be too dickhead), killing beautiful and rare wildlife and lions for “sports”.
You fucking coward will soon (!) receive some of your own medicine….I made contacts with some local people, who really like to hunt you down for a trophy, paid by myself! It’s worth spending money for that…:)
Watch out, your days are counted you faggot 🙂 And I will be looking forward to read the local newspapers about your “sudden and unexpected death”…LOL…
Enjoy your last days…you will die in fucking agony mate 🙂
Date: 30 July 2015
From: Mike Saunders
Comment: How is you hunting with weapons a fair game? A monkey could shoot you dead. I hope you and your family are skinned alive
Date: 29 July 2015
From: Louise Bell
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/louise.bell.9889
Comment: I don’t understand how you can claim to be an advocate of conservation when you go out and kill these beautiful animals. The two do not go hand in hand – it’s like trying to cure hunger by stitching peoples mouths up, ‘they can’t be hungry, look, they’re not even attempting to eat’. Nonsense. You are cruel and heartless and you should be ashamed of what you have done. Why is your ego more important than the survival of majestic creatures? And can’t you help conservation without bloodshed?
Date: 29 July 2015
From: Peter Morley
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/peter.morley.39904
Comment: You are a piece of fucking shit and if I ever have the displeasure to meet you I’ll make you regret your life. People like you epitomise what is wrong with the Human race. You are shit, pure and simple.