“Cattle, sheep, horses and chickens are not endangered despite mass hi-tech slaughter because they are privately owned and traded. If rhino horn, ivory and other wildlife products were commercialised, inhumane poaching would virtually disappear. It would, however, become less thrilling to spot the big five. The modern conservation ethic suggests that the best way to conserve noncommercial species might be to decriminalise ownership and trade, especially between private sanctuaries.
Endangered species are often victims of prohibitions impersonating protection. To its credit, our government is one of the few that lobbies for liberalisation. The fact that Africa’s most valuable animals cannot be as freely and humanely owned and traded as those of Europe, Asia and the Americas is neocolonial. Africa should liberate itself unilaterally by placing indigenous fauna and flora on the same footing as theirs”.
Trade in animals ensures they thrive: Leon Louw’s latest column in BDlive published by Business Day today.
When governments “protected” wildlife by nationalising it, numbers declined. Peasant and commercial farmers exterminated animals they regarded, often mistakenly, as denuding arable and grazing land. When wildlife was privatised during the 1970s and 1980s, thousands of “game farms” appeared. Instead of slaughtering wild animals, farmers started breeding and protecting those with commercial potential.
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The contribution of private ranching, which is threatened by government land redistribution and agriculture policies, is well documented, notably by Wildlife Ranching SA. Private ranches now have twice as many head of game (12-million) as national parks (6-million) in 10,000 ranches covering 20-million hectares. The industry generates R1bn from hunting, R600m from tourism, R300m from game sales and R60m from meat. That is why wildlife numbers are increasing.