Hunting Association condemns Okonjima Reserve ‘Grindr’ themed fundraising video
By Danene van der Westhuyzen
Namibia Professional Hunting Association President.
Recently a video was posted by the Okonjima Reserve on various social media channels to raise funds for protecting a few of the white rhino that roam on their property.
Apart from the twisted political message and staging that is signature to the liberal (animal rights) movement, the video also spreads inaccurate and false information about legal hunting (conservation hunting) and NAPHA takes great exception and condemns this in the strongest possible terms.
If a Namibian so-called conservation organisation like the Okonjima Reserve – and by affiliation the Africat Foundation – has not realised the importance, validity and conservation value of regulated, legal and sustainable hunting (apart from sustainable use of natural resources being enshrined in the Namibian constitution), we have a very sad state of affairs.
Although we do not wish to repeat ourselves endlessly, NAPHA believes that game animals should be able to roam freely without being habituated to humans. We furthermore believe that sustainable use of such game animals leads to vital habitats being protected.
With surprise we note the hypocrisy and irony of condemning and slandering legal hunting on the one hand, and at the same time threatening the rhino to be hunted if there are no donors who will “save” the rhinos. This screams of an alternative agenda behind the, at best, well-meant initiative. Especially if double standards are applied in regard to hunting of animals, and that some species of “lesser value” are more dispensable than other “iconic” species. The current state of affairs with tourism at the brink of collapse, might have distorted Okonjima’s viewpoint, and instead of promoting value to the habitat of these rhino, want in essence to generate money from these rhino.
It takes a lot more than a questionable video with foreign narration to bring something tangible to real conservation. This while hundreds of freehold land owners and black rhino custodians are in the same boat, but are not making a mockery out of it and host these national resources (black rhino) on their properties even within these dire times. They are the true conservationists indeed. The bigger picture is the species, and not the individual.
We were shocked by the whole “sugar daddy narrative” and can only hope that this is to raise sensation, albeit tasteless, and not to caricature very real and concerning issues in Namibia.
The lumping of indiscriminate poaching and legal, regulated hunting into one is ludicrous and completely baseless and ignorant. It is a well-established fact that trophy hunting (called “conservation hunting” in Namibia for good reason) in Namibia operates on very conservative quotas that have no negative effect on the larger population of a species whatsoever – especially for the so-called iconic species like the black and white rhino, elephant and lion.
Therefore, even suggesting that regulated hunting is a threat to a species – like poaching (being completely indiscriminate) definitely is – has no basis in fact. Rather the opposite is true: through hunting much needed large tracts of habitat are protected. Very few other sustainable land uses ensure such protection and conservation of natural habitat, and it will be hard to find better examples in southern Africa of the role of the private sector in rebuilding and establishing rhino populations, which includes regulated legal hunting as a sustainable use tool.
There are of course always dubious actors in the hunting industry, however this is no different to any other industry or profession where corrupt and immoral characters operate, and we as NAPHA do the best in our powers to counteract such developments within the hunting sector – both in Namibia and abroad.
We would have hoped and hope that in future in such situations we as NAPHA and an official representative body would be consulted, as ultimately we want or should want the same: sustainable conservation of nature without having to bring disrepute and discredit to the efforts of a whole country.