When I was in South Africa speaking a few years ago, Secondhand Smokette and I made a point of traveling to a big game park so we could view the wild animals at close quarters. We stayed at Umlani, which is in a private park, and had a superb time viewing lions, a cheetah, elephants galore (a big bull elephant is B.I.G!), giraffes aplenty, cape buffalo, rhinos, gazelles, hyenas–it was a fabulous adventure.
I had just read Matthew Scully’s Dominion, in which he went berserk about elephant hunting. So, I had a long talk with the operators of the place about the issue–which takes place literally where they live–and asked their thoughts on culling. They told me that without culling, the ecology of the parks would be ruined by the elephants and other animals, since it is a closed system. Second, selling hunting licenses literally allows the parks to stay open. Indeed, the parks couldn’t exist otherwise because the licenses provide the bulk of the parks’ budgets. Funny, how Scully didn’t mention that little point in his outrage over elephants being shot.
Now, further support for this position comes from a story published in the London Times . Big game hunting is good for conservation and it pays for park upkeep. It is therefore, beneficial to the animals, overall. This needs to be kept in mind the next time someone decries the killing of big game in Africa.