Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Big game hunting in Africa

The excellent blog of Mr. Abraham Tharakan, which I regularly read with almost a Mallu obsession (akin to reading the newspaper in the morning) has the latest one on an interesting hunting safari he partook in the 60s.


The interesting article was revealing too. In those days, though the wild-life laws were put in place, people could take shelters under many a pretext. In the present era, we are aware about the ordeals some thespians and royals are undergoing to come out of the legal issues for having hunted down protected wildlife.

But, in the dark continent of Africa, the madness of destroying wildlife goes on. Those of my readers who have read the author Wilbur Smith will be aware of the hunting concessions in the African countries and about the indiscriminate destruction of the wildlife there.

In Dar Es Salam, Tanzania, my friend M (original name concealed) who is a Tanzanian of Indian origin, is into big time hunting. His company offers hunting expeditions for rich people which may last for months and which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. He owns aircrafts and has concessions over thousands of hectares for exclusive hunting rights. Once a hunting safari is fixed, probably for rich Europeans and Americans, the team goes into the wild for a month or so with all needed accompaniments. Any big cat or elephant could be shot with no questions asked. The government collects its fees and in the guise of tourism, all atrocities on these beautiful animals are perpetrated. Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs, wild buffaloes or even elephants are at the mercy of the hunters. Tanzania has over 130 hunting concessions covering an area in excess of 200,000 square kilometres that are leased to hunting outfitters licensed to conduct tourist hunting. More than 60 species of animals in the country can be hunted on a tourist-hunting licence.

Recently the Tanzanian government revised the game hunting fees and told that these were actually in line with prevailing rates in the rest of the 14-member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Under the new structure, the trophy fee for hunting a lion has been raised to US $12,000 and the hunters now have to pay US $15,000 to kill an elephant in Tanzania Also revised upwards were licence fees for lucrative hunting blocks to US $50,000.

Whatever justifications are quoted for the African reasoning of hunting concessions, I am of the view that these are to be stopped with immediate effect. Those beautiful animals like the lions, the leopards, the cheetahs and the pachyderms are nature’s most wonderful creations. Who has the right to take its life? Are they not our fellow living beings which should be seen and appreciated by our great grand children down the generations? How do you compensate the life of a beautiful and majestic lion with money? I shudder at these thoughts and pray that wisdom may dawn upon Africa in the near future.

Dubai, 6th February 2008.

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