Game Over

 

Does this picture look familiar? Well this picture was taken by ‘big game hunter’ and ‘conservationist’ Kendall Jones. The picture is part of a news and social media story that has recently gone viral. Jones hunts big game animals and posts the pictures of her kills on her social media pages. She is looking to start a TV show in 2015 which follows her exploits, and has recently become the subject of much (justified) outrage. The viral news story can be found here

“In 2008, (age 13) I took my second trip to Africa to start my Big 5 experience”.

**The ‘big 5’ is referencing to the 5 most coveted big game animals to hunt, the lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo, and rhinoceros.**

“The first animal I ever shot was a White Rhino with a .416 Remington!”

“On this trip I also took some plains game, such as impala, kudu and mountain reedbuck home.”

Do Kendall’s actions appall you?

Well you are not alone. Thousands of people have joined her social media sites to criticize her actions.People from South Africa demand that she ‘leave their animals alone’ because what right does she have to ‘kill off another countries’ animals’. Others shame and threaten her, and have set up petitions to shut down her social media sites and stop her hunting exploits.

However, Kendall and her supporters continue to pursue the big 5 claiming that big game hunting is necessary to control populations, and to protect livestock, noting that permits sold for hunting animals gives all of the money raised back to fund schools and water wells. As a result, right now Kendall is hunting “leopards, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, zebras and impalas with bows and guns” in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Personally, I am against trophy hunting. In Kendall’s news story, she describes a type of trophy hunting called canned hunting. This is a legal practice where animals such as the big 5 are bred and farmed in order to later be hunted in captivity.This practice is inhumane. The animals are contained within a compound and are not given a fair chance to run and hide. Sometimes they are even baited within the compound to make the hunting even easier. In Australia, Jason Wood organized a campaign to ban trophy hunting. He has illustrated how inhumane canned hunting is:

“I don’t even call it hunting, most of the time they have bait there. There’s this very graphic video I’ve seen where you have a lion just lying under its food and it just gets shot. And the very distressing thing is the lion is perplexed as to what is going on – why, because it is used to interaction with humans.”

The Good News

As a result of Wood’s campaigning, Australia has banned trophy hunters from bringing home all rhino body parts they collect from overseas. While this may seem like a small step, it is a significant one. If a hunter cannot bring home their ‘trophy’ for their mantle and prove that they were ‘skilled’ enough to kill a rhino, there is a lot less incentive to pay $40000 to go and kill it. In addition, hopefully this will be an example that will persuade other nations into doing the same. 

While Kendall is still able to go trophy hunting in foreign countries, it is essential for nations around the world to not only ban trophy hunting, but also to follow in Australia’s footsteps and ban the importation of the body parts they gain abroad. 

Sign petitions and find additional information here:

https://www.change.org/

https://www.change.org/search?q=trophy+hunting

http://www.change.org/petitions/republic-of-south-africa-government-ban-trophy-hunting

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Facebook_CEOMark_Zuckerberg_Remove_the_page_of_Kendal_Jones_that_promotes_animal_cruelty/?wNPCMhb

Kendall’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/_kendalljones_

Kendall’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kendalltakeswild/info

Photo Cred: cbc.ca

As always: comments, questions, concerns or even random thoughts? I would love if you shared them with me so please comment below!

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Apex Predators

One species of animal can greatly influence an entire ecosystem. This cascading effect that can occur can even change the geography of an area, showing the extent of influence an animal can hold in an ecosystem.

A video has recently gone viral which shows how the introduction of wolves into an ecosystem actually changed a river’s path. This video is entitled How Wolves Change Rivers. In this video a man describes how wolves were introduced into Yellowstone National Park in the United States, and, through this reintroduction of a species into an ecosystem, how the wolves led to an increase in vegetation, and the eventual change in course of a river. Although many people are aware that wolves kill other animals, most are unaware that they can give life. Yellowstone Park was overpopulated with deer and these deer had grazed all of the vegetation, leaving bare flat lands. In this case study the wolves ate the dear in the park, which led to less deer, and made the remaining deer avoid the wolf populated areas. These avoided areas then experienced a rapid increase in vegetation growth, creating forests in places which once only held grass. Due to the increase in trees there was an increase in beavers because, well, beavers like trees. These beavers are ecosystem engineers and they in turn built dams which provided shelter for countless other species. The wolves also killed coyotes and this meant that there was an increase in mice, rabbits, hawks, weasels, foxes, badgers, ravens, and bald eagles. Now not only was there a massive increase in species throughout the park, but the river running through the park experienced less erosion, the channels narrowed, and pools formed due to the increase in vegetation and the stabilization of the river banks that this vegetation provided. The river itself changed. This process is known as a tropic cascade.

The concerning issue about this case study is the fact that wolves are only one apex predator in the world: lions in Africa, tigers in Asia. Sharks, bears, and wild dogs are example of species at the top of their particular food chains, stabilizing the ecosystem and species they live and prey on, and influencing the health of plants and animals all the way to the bottom of the tropic ladder.

The truly disturbing part is that a majority of these apex predators are facing a decline in population numbers, potentially endangering the ecosystems where they reside.

This calls for change. It’s time for us, as humans, to change our overall perception of predators. We cannot condone the mass culling of sharks as has recently been approved in Western Australia. Stop the poaching of Tigers in Asia. No more habitat destruction in Sub Saharan Africa that decimates lion populations.

Human/wildlife conflict is going to occur as population growth happens around the world. Humans need to change and start living with wildlife if we want to protect the beautiful, useful, and essential ecosystems around the world.

FYI: The picture is of a river that runs through my cottage a.k.a. The Farm, in Elphin, Ontario

Photo Cred: Anton Holland

As always: comments, questions, concerns or even random thoughts? I would love if you shared them with me so please comment below!