‘Game’ farmers claim to be conservationists; that hunting is a ‘tool of conservation’. Are they?
They love to recite numbers. “Look how few wild animals there were 50 years ago, and now look how many there are on our game farms”.
Let’s test their claim. Take a proper definition of real conservation:
True conservation is the preservation of natural, functioning eco-systems.
Now try to apply this definition to a game farm, or lion farm. It does not fit. You can twist and turn it any way you like, but you cannot make a conservationist out of a 'game' farmer.
Why does a farmer sell his sheep/ cattle and go 'game farming? Answer:- because it is more profitable. He can make more money going to the game auctions and buying up a parcel of ‘wild’ animals and then getting high paying hunters to shoot them. Does this make him a conservationist? No, he is still a livestock farmer, but now he is farming with alternative livestock.
These farmed animals are not evolving freely with other species, as they would in a natural environment. They are being actively managed, in-bred and cross-bred, to be hunted. Hunters do not take the weak and sick, like a natural predator. They kill the strong and fit, the trophy animals.
This has genetic consequences. Compare the small size of Karoo springbok, who have been hunted for centuries, with their bigger, stronger cousins across the Orange river, the Kalahari springbok, who were protected until 1948.
Even worse, game farmers/hunters are a distraction from real conservation issues, such as loss of habitat. Hunting moves the debate away from real issues.
So here is our message to game farmers: join us in lobbying for a mass consolidation and expansion of protected wilderness areas.
Then you can call yourselves conservationists.