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CITES (3): The USA & Southern Africa Conservation Models

Updated: Jan 2

The USA Model for Conservation of Wild Game

In the USA model of wildlife conservation the approach is that wildlife belongs to no one. The USA government is the custodian of all wildlife and wildlife habitat and will decide in which way - and IF – this resource may be utilised by the USA public. This approach was proposed to be for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Theodore Roosevelt who was a prolific "sports hunter" started this model which by default assumes that all outdoor resources must be viewed as one holistic whole and that its conservation should be managed through “wise utilisation” as a government function and responsibility. There should never be private ownership of wildlife and it may not be allowed to become a general commercial activity within the capitalist economic system.

Wildlife management is therefor executed by bureaucrats in the USA Department of Fish and Wildlife (DOFAW) - and they are doing that on public as well as private land. Public land is under custodianship of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These two government institutions purport to employ science as a tool in their management processes – science which the average landowner supposedly would not possess. This style of government custodianship to manage a potential national economic resource was taken from the old Soviet USSR playbook regarding assuming custodianship of all economic resources in the erstwhile Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

No commercial value

The foundational principle for the sport-hunting approach was that the opposite option of creating individual ownership of and a commercial market for wildlife and wildlife products would be too troubling to bear: it created an unacceptable thought because it implied the privatisation of what is seen as a common resource. Bureaucrats believed and still believe that this will lead to the inevitable and unacceptable outcome that populations of wildlife species will be decimated and therefore wild game must never be allowed to have any commercial value.

The underlying character of this approach is that wild game is only there for "sport" hunting by an elitest group of competitors. It rejects hunting for profit or for sustenance. Legally viewed this model sees hunting as a sport activity and nothing more than that. A select group engages in this sport where the trophy / competing aspect is to see who can bag the biggest set of horns. Bragging rights are at the top of the motivation list for engaging in the hunting sport.

This philosophy also was the foundation on which CITES was established and it also is the model which this organisation presently endeavours to force onto Southern Africa countries. Before discussion of the Southern Africa conservation model some aspects of the successes and / or failures of the USA model needs to be reviewed.

All wildlife is totally free ranging and belongs to nobody

The accent must be on “free”. Wildlife has free access to any and all grazing on whatever natural feed or cultivated crops exist on private property. The landowner has no recourse to charge any fee to the Department of Wildlife for the grazing utilised by herds of migrating animals not belonging to him, or for crop damage. He is not allowed to shoot or hunt any wild animal on his property unless he had purchased a permission to hunt (tag).

In the American wildlife management model some unintended (but not unforeseen) consequences have developed over the years. The system has collectively overlooked the facts that major species have been continuing to decline while others like white-tail deer and coyotes have become pests. Introspection regarding the root causes of these threats to the concept of macro nature conservation has been dissolved within the internal momentum this big bureaucratic engine has built up over the years.

Due to the bragging rights embedded in sport hunting in the USA hunters invariably seek and kill the best active breeding material male animals. The quality of meat that younger animals and females of the species present has very little incentive – the only incentive is the biggest set of antlers. DOFAW almost drive hunters to do this by inexplicably putting a limit on the smallest size of antlers that may be shot. In this way the best genetic material is selectively removed year on year and the gene pool of whatever breeding material is left is getting smaller and smaller year on year. Tampering with the best genetics has the nett effect of bringing out recessive genes - those that nature had suppressed long ago.

Due to the inevitable inbreeding resulting from this practice the weaker genes are now proliferating in elk, mule deer and white tail deer and which inter alia shows in the larger numbers of de-formed antlers being found - and more pointedly in the growing number of animals infected with Chronic Wasting Disease.

This is a crisis of pandemic proportions and has spawned another belated institutional reactive field of bureaucratic study called “Conservation Biology” – in fact they call themselves the “Crisis Discipline”.

The exceedingly complex bureaucratic planning regime of this model is almost too vast to understand and its planned executive outcomes have mostly stalled in its own paralysis by analysis.

Add the very loud voices of the animal rights organisations to the complexity-in-design of the USA conservation management system – those “greenies” who oppose all productive use of wildlife as a matter of principle - and the reader will notice the further shift towards common ownership of wildlife and zero utilisation. The history of this “woke” model is worldwide a sad tale of extinction.

The South Africa Model

During the years of Colonial rule wild animals in South Africa also belonged to nobody but was closely administered by the British Governor General on behalf of the British Monarch (“The Crown”) via the Department of Fauna and Flora. Wild animals were collectively called “game” because the British Royals organised massive hunting expeditions during which it was game to shoot as many of any animal as the sport hunters and their South African government hosts had wished to. In a way it was reminiscent of the bison killings in the old West.

Anybody else who wanted to hunt any “game” - even landowners on whose properties it was resident - had to buy a hunting licence from the South African Police. The Department of Fauna and Flora in whichever way decided how many of each specie could be hunted during the “hunting season”.

Wild animals competed directly with cattle and sheep for habitat resources and therefore limited the carrying capacity that a ranch had for the number of commercial domestic animals it could produce. African antelope including Cape buffalo and giraffe are very territorial so there are not any migratory patterns. An exception to this rule was a certain sub specie of springbok that had a circle migration through the mostly Karoo semi desert area.

Cattle and sheep farmers had no use for “game” animals on their properties as these had zero commercial value. By the early 1960s there was hardly any “game” left in South Africa outside of the National Parks because game animals that belonged to The Crown were a threat to food production.

After declaring itself independent from England South Africa immediately changed the “game laws”. Wild animals now belonged to the owner of the property where the animals at any time occurred. The owner could hunt or sell these animals for his financial gain at any price any buyer was willing to pay.

Suddenly kudu, gemsbok, impala, wildebeest and all other “game” animals had a commercial value and was protected by ranchers. Cattle are very selective feeders and so the carrying capacity was low and very large properties were needed to have a suitable return on investment and prevent overgrazing. Typically, large pieces of pristine wilderness areas had been overgrazed and brush encroachment had occurred. Ranchers sold their cattle and live game auctions came into being, re-populating the habitat with diverse species of feeders brought back the original tree and grass species.

Not only did the numbers of wild animals increase but the diverse Africa vegetation returned to normal. A common, nationally wide “environmental conservation” policy and common goal for macro-conservation and species protection came into existence. Ranchers have become conservation experts in their own right with all the scientific knowledge easily available. There are no endangered species in Southern Africa. There is no inbreeding, and the quality of gene pools for the different species is healthy and improving.

Rhino numbers increased from a total of 300 animals in the 1960s to more than 25,000 presently; lion and elephant populations are abundant. South Africa has become the number one destination in the world for hunting and photo safaris. All because of the private ownership of wild animals and the commercial value it was afforded. Today there are 3 times as many wild animals on private properties than there are in the national parks.

Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe are in similar situations. There however is one critical threat to the habitat and to three species: Because of the long-time patently incorrect CITES listing of elephant, lion and rhino as endangered, the overabundance of these species has become a dire threat to their habitat – both for overgrazing and as a threat to humans who live their daily lives in close interaction with these animals. The CITES Appendices I and II are total untruths and blatant distortions of the facts regarding every species listed in these two documents.

This travesty has created totally absurd Executive Orders in the USA that prevents US hunters to import trophies of lion, elephant, rhino, leopard - and now possibly giraffe as examples. The time has come to expose CITES for what it is: an organisation with dark agendas but hiding behind emotional virtue signalling. Only, this virtue signalling are direct lies.

CITES must be disbanded or ignored and the present executive orders that ban certain imports into the USA need to be recalled.


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