Animal Justice: Game and Trophy Hunting and Poaching

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound, in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things, who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time, I rest in the grace of the world, and am free – The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

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Nature is a sanctuary for many of us, including me.

I remember last year I was eating dinner communally; someone in my university residence had organised a weekly vegetarian dinner, using produce from our edible garden. It was fabulous. On one occasion, a friend of a friend and I got talking and then his friend entered our conversation and told him I was vegan when it did not take up his offer Parmesan cheese. The conversation progressed as it normally does; “but what if…”, “Would you…” but I was in a good [patient] enough mood to answer this. This guy through me a question that I’d not had before, he asked “If you could kill your own meat, then would you eat meat?” I explained that though that could be considered more ethical than purchasing meat from his place of employment – Coles – I was of the belief that not only was the animals life not mine to take, as well as preferring the taste of others things better, but with hunting, there is great potential for suffering. This friend of my friend insisted he was an excellent shot and could hit the animal straight between the eyes and therefore it would not suffer. I asked, would it console him if I wanted to eat him but could shoot hit straight between the eyes? He had nothing to say.

Game Hunting

Game is any animal hunted for sport or for food. The type and range of animals hunted for food varies in different parts of the world. Many species of animals in Australia have been introduced by European settlers since the 18th century, including rabbits, foxes, goats, pigs, dogs, deer, donkeys, horses and camels. The most commonly hunted animals are rabbits, foxes, pigs, feral cats and feral goats. Hunting of rabbits in Australia is encouraged as they are considered a pest, most commonly by ground shooting. The recreational hunting of foxes is also commonly done by shooting, but usually requires other techniques to lure and shoot the animal such as spotlighting or use of the fox whistle which makes a sound like a distressed rabbit. The commercial hunting of kangaroos was recorded as 1,560,586 in 2012. Most states and territories allow the hunting of pest species – feral dogs, feral goats, feral pigs, foxes, hares, and rabbits – at any time of year with the landowner’s permission. Every state and territory requires those carrying firearms to be licensed to do so.

I find the idea of “pests” an interesting concept given how grossly over-populated the planet is with human life. If you don’t view livestock as your commodity to protect, does the concept of pest animals still exist?

Trophy Hunting

Trophy hunting is a specific type of game hunting where a portion of the animal is kept as a souvenir. The trophy is the animal or part of the animal kept, and usually displayed, to represent the success. The primary game sought is usually the oldest and most mature animal from a given population. It is not illegal, as poaching is, but there is the practice is controversial. Remember the rich American dentist that paid thousands to shoot Cecil the Lion in his cage? Because African animals are exotic and seen as more magical and special than native or farm animals, there was global uproar and it trended online for weeks.

Up until now you probably thought this is the sought of thing that only happens in America – I certainly did. Did you know that hunting in Victoria is the second biggest tourism money maker for the state? Did you know that the agriculture minister for Victoria, Peter Walsh, has committed to spending nearly $18 million to lure more hunters from overseas? The Victorian government claims it values ‘the significant social and cultural benefits that game hunting provides’ and yet less than 1% of Victorians are involved in game hunting. Many oppose the cruel ‘sport’ whether it be ducks, deer, or other animals. This is because there is huge potential for suffering, be it, escaping the hunt with internal organ damage from bullet or arrow wounds to being maimed by hunting dogs.

“I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They always say because it’s such a beautiful animal. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her” – Ellen De Generous

Poaching

Animal poaching is when an animal is killed illegally. It usually occurs when an animal possesses something that is considered valuable (i.e. the animal’s fur or ivory). Many cultures believe Rhino horns have medicinal properties, so that animal is slaughter to collect its horn. Similarly, African elephants are still being poached, by tens of thousands each year, for their ivory tusks, despite a ban on the international trade in ivory,  The ivory is often carved into ornaments and jewellery. To many, practicing veganism means avoiding practices and products associated with game and trophy hunting and poaching. Whilst still challenging the idea that there is a sort of hierarchy, were the lives some animals matters more than others.

“If animals could speak, mankind would weep” – Anthony Douglas Williams

Thanks for reading,

Meg x

Resources and References

Don’t let Victoria become ‘The Trophy Hunting State’: http://www.animalsaustralia.org/take_action/say-no-to-vic-becoming-the-trophy-hunting-state/

Coalition Against Duck Shooting Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Coalition-Against-Duck-Shooting-147897351061/

Duck shooting is not a sport video campaign with Australian athletes: https://www.facebook.com/AnimalsAustraliaUnleashed/videos/10153421645281876/

Powerful illustrations demonstrating these concepts: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2016/04/26/20-shocking-illustrations-reveal-how-animals-feel-by-switching-them-with-humans/

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