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Western racism hurts African wildlife and people

By: Emmanuel Koro
Published in Voices 360

The world has just been reminded that racism is a deeply hurtful problem that cuts across all spheres of life. This month Republican U.S. President Donald Trump repeatedly told four Democratic U.S. members of Congress to “go home.” All four were female and of colour. One of these elected officials might be a descendant of Africans who were brutally enslaved to help develop and enrich the American nation.

In Africa, those of us involved with wildlife conservation realize that Western racism is also a constant sub-theme in Western policy. Take Africa’s elephant and rhino range states. They have been subjected to a harmful form of racism by Western animal rights groups for the past 43 years. How? They have imposed their values on how African wildlife should be managed. For example, they have promoted a ban on ivory and rhino horn trade — and stopped all trade in domestically bred African grey parrots — in the hope that this will end poaching. It hasn’t. In fact, poaching of elephants, rhinos and grey parrots have increased because demand for these products remains high.

“The younger supporters of the Western animal rights groups, many of whom consider themselves politically progressive, do not realize the racist nature of these organizations,” said U.S. public policy specialist and Managing Director of the Ivory Education Institute, Godfrey Harris. “They have no idea that the money they donate is making things worse for Africa, particularly the rural populations who live among wild animals. Yet the animal rights groups shamelessly use the increase in poaching they knowingly enable in order to drag even more money out of their supporters. The ugly truth is that Western animal rights groups create and benefit from the poaching crisis.”

While the executives of the animal rights groups enjoy a luxurious lifestyle, rural Africans suffer the consequences of being unable to benefit from the wildlife that is part of their environment and culture. They go barefoot, poor, hungry, and hopeless, without clean drinking water, decent healthcare or adequate educational facilities. They suffer these conditions because African wildlife can’t pay for itself while the ban on ivory and rhino horn trade, and limitations on hunting, remain in force.

Worse, urban and rural African taxpayers are forced to pay for wildlife protection in order to satisfy the values of Western animal rights groups. Comfortable in their luxury homes and offices in New York, London, Brussels and Berlin, they claim that they know, what is best for African people and African wildlife. How is this attitude any different from the colonial racists such as Bismarck, Leopold, Rhodes or Livingston? Remember they proclaimed “the higher races have a right over the lower races. They have a duty to civilize the inferior races.” This idea of imposing abhorrent Western values on Africa then is no different than the attitudes of the Western animal rights groups today.

Without benefits from wildlife and after so many fatal attacks of elephant and lions on their people and livestock, Africa’s rural communities are suffering. If you were suffering in this way, wouldn’t you rather poach wildlife by collaborating with the poachers than adopt the racist attitudes of unseen and unknown do-gooders from abroad?

African leaders have long found racism abhorrent. Nelson Mandela, the former South African president and global icon, said it best: “I hate racial discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations.”

The first black President of the first African independent country, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, told the U.S. civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King that he “would never be able to accept the American ideology of freedom until America settles its own internal racial strife.” We could extend Mr. Nkrumah’s thought to wildlife. Let the U.S. solve its own wildlife issues involving the white tailed deer, the wild Mustang horse, and the western mountain lion before it uses the UN Convention on International Trade In Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as its tool to interfere in Africa’s wild animal issues.

Trade not aid saves African wildlife. If the SADC countries were to leave CITES, they could easily start trading in all their currently forbidden wildlife products with world markets without endangering their wildlife populations.

The Organization of Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) is trading oil internationally without a UN environmental agency regulating it. Yet oil has and continues to negatively impact the environment. The diamond producing countries under the Kimberly process is also trading independently. Accordingly, there is no reason why SADC countries cannot do the same with their rhino horn, ivory and grey parrot stocks if CITES fails to end its continued racist prohibition of trade in these wildlife products. Before taking this action, SADC countries should ensure that the countries that are going to buy their products are also willing to defy CITES. The good news is that countries such as Japan are likely to agree to that because they have problems with international wildlife regulatory bodies as well.

In late December 2018, Japan set a precedent that sovereign countries can pullout of international wildlife regulatory organizations that don’t serve their national interests. Japan pulled out of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) because it was prohibiting its people from commercial whale hunting for meat, which is an important source of protein. Following its pullout from the IWC in December 2018, Japan started commercial whaling on 1 July 2019, totally ignoring Western animal rights groups’ outcries against commercial whale hunting.

About Emmanuel Koro
Emmanuel Koro is a Johannesburg-based international award-winning environmental journalist who has written extensively on environment and development issues in Africa.

About This Article
This article was published online by the Voices 360 on July 29, 2019. Link to the article https://www.voices360.com/community-development/western-racism-hurts-african-wildlife-and-people-30025950

To the Prime Minister of People’s Republic of China

Following letter was sent to the Prime Minister of China. A copy of the letter in PDF format is at the end of the page.


October 30, 2018

The Honorable Li Keqiang
Prime Minister of China
People’s Republic of China
Beijing, CHINA

Dear Premier Li :

The Ivory Education Institute strongly applauds the People’s Republic of China’s decision to permit its hospitals to trade in domestically-raised tiger bones and rhino horn.

While many Western animal rights groups will react automatically and negatively to this  initiative because it will confuse their one-size-fits-all approach to wildlife conservation,  students of governance will recognize the carefully-crafted policy that China has forged.

From our perspective, you have done it exactly right. Now it is up to the farmers and their  support groups in Southern Africa to put pressure on their individual governments to join  China in seeking a change in CITES regulations to reflect this new policy.

As an organization fully committed to achieving a similar, carefully calibrated and properly  controlled market for ivory, I hope you will be able to turn your attention to saving  elephants suffering in overpopulated herds in Southern Africa.

I look forward to working with your delegates to the CITES Conference of the Parties in May-2019 on this and other questions.

Sincerely

Godfrey Harris
Managing Director


View the Letter in PDF format

To the President of the National Geographic Society

Following email communication was sent to Mr. Knell, President of the National Geographic Society on March 1, 2018


Dear Mr. Knell:

POLITICO for February 28, 2018 quotes you as follows:

“100 elephants a day are being slaughtered for ivory.” Given the prestige of the National Geographic Society and the incomparable platform it offers you, I would hope that you could prove the number of elephants you claim are poached per day before you repeat that number again in public. The Humane Society of the United States has long claimed 96 per day (derived from a 2010 estimate of 35,000 elephants killed in a 12 month period divided by 365.)

As you know, the Speaker of the California Assembly adopted the number for a bill she sponsored that bans virtually all ivory trading in the state. That bill became law. But as we note in our lawsuit appeal arguing to have the law declared unconstitutional, the number was never proven, details were never provided, the caveats accompanying the number were never revealed and a differentiation between animals killed for their ivory and those that died of natural causes was never established by any responsible public official in California.

The number has become the opposite of an urban myth; it is the big lie repeated so often that it takes on a Goebbels-like ring of verified truth. Check with the Natural Resources Defense Council. They use the number as if it were brought down from Mt. Sinai by Moses. Please do not add to the intellectual dishonesty this number implies by associating the National Geographic Society with its dubious provenance.

And one more thing. When groups like the Society publicly lament the death of elephants without equal concern for the rural populations who live among them and for the damage the elephants do to the land they occupy, these groups are playing into the hands of the poachers. Nothing the gangs that control the poachers want more than a limit on ivory supply without any alteration in demand. That, of course, increases the price of raw ivory and makes poaching even more lucrative. Ever think that what you are doing by addressing only a part of the elephant equation may do greater damage  than might occur without your intervention?

Godfrey Harris
Managing Director, Ivory Education Institute
520 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 204
Los Angeles, CA 90049-3534 USA

Trump on Trophies from Zimbabwe elephant hunts

Trump’s decision on trophies from Zimbabwe elephant hunts bad for elephant conservation

Zimbabwe’s anticipated successful elephant conservation lies in the hands of Trump. African and Western conservation organisations have appealed to him to not take too long to get the scientific facts from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to justify imports of hunted elephant trophies into the US.

By: Emmanuel Koro
Published in The Chronicle

UNITED States President Donald Trump has delayed a rare and early Christmas gift that he recently presented to the Zambian and Zimbabwean people.

By putting a halt on the lifting of the US ban on importing elephant trophies from the two countries into the US he has muddied the US policy waters.

The US is the world’s biggest hunting market and poor rural villagers in Zambia and Zimbabwe see their lives being significantly improved through money that the US hunters pay to hunt elephants.

Hunting elephants is legal under strict permit systems in several African countries, and the revenue is crucial for supporting conservation efforts. The large fees that trophy hunters pay to be allowed to hunt elephants, lions and leopards can be a significant source of revenue. In Zimbabwe, according to the Safari Operators’ Association, the annual revenue from trophy hunting for this year could be as much as $130 million, mainly from the US market.

The southern African countries, including Zambia and Zimbabwe, practise wise and sustainable use of wildlife products such as elephant hunting trophies, ivory and rhino horn trade, to bring wildlife into balance with their habitats.

Therefore, the US Department of Interior’s decision to suspend the US ban on elephant trophies from the two countries into the US was a breath of fresh air and good news for elephant conservation. Sadly, it only took a tweet from President Trump saying the ban would remain, “until such time as I review all conservation facts.”

That review if done responsibly as we anticipate can only result in the reinstatement of his decision to allow imports of elephant hunting trophies into the USA because the motivation facts are strong, scientific and tested.

The US Secretary for the Department of Interior, Ryan Zinke on Friday said: “President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical”. “As a result, in a manner compliant with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations, the issuing of permits is put on hold as the decision is being reviewed.”

The US Fish and Wildlife Service had announced the welcome policy shift 48 hours earlier, with officials signalling in a statement that they would expand efforts to promote trophy hunting as a form of conservation.

Pro-hunting non-governmental organisations worldwide do not see any reason why President Trump should at a later stage reverse the honourable, scientifically based, elephant-saving and welcome decision to reinstate the imports of elephant hunting trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe into the US.

Sadly, President Trump’s decision to put on hold imports might have ended the celebrations of Zambian and Zimbabwean poor villagers that were set benefit from it. Without benefits from elephant hunting money the villagers will not have any incentive to conserve the iconic animals or to protect them from poachers.

Therefore, the fate of Zimbabwe and Zambia’s anticipated successful elephant conservation lies in the hands of President Trump. African and Western conservation organisations have appealed to him to not take too long to get the scientific facts from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to justify imports of hunted elephant trophies into the US. The decision to lift the ban was announced at the African Wildlife Consultative Forum in Tanzania – an event co-hosted by Safari Club International (SCI), a hunting rights group.

They certainly do not think that President Trump’s decision to put the elephant hunting trophies imports on hold was due to the animal rights outcry to reverse the decision because this is the man who unexpectedly pulled out of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Paris Deal; despite worldwide appeals, including those from animal rights groups. They know that President Trump does not share animal rights’ anti-wildlife use values. He and his advisors, who include the USFWS, are also fully aware that the elephant trophy imports into the US would benefit elephant conservation and fight rural poverty. Therefore, these NGOs think that his (President Trump) should be an honest attempt not to rush the elephant hunting trophies imports decision that he should soon reinstate.

Even his two sons, including Donald Trump Jnr- who recently went on an unforgettable hunting trip in Zimbabwe know that hunting revenue benefits wildlife and poor rural communities situated near national parks and game reserves. At a US government level, there is strong support for hunting as a USFWS spokesman was quoted in the media saying, “Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management programme can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation. The USFWS has determined that the hunting and management programmes for African elephants in Zimbabwe will enhance the survival of the species in the wild.”

Explaining the reason why President Trump put the elephant hunting trophy imports decision on hold, the Head of the Los Angeles-based Ivory Education Institute, Godfrey Harris said, “For the announcement of a policy to be official, it must be published in the Federal Register. The publication of an executive order, a rule change, the signing of a piece of legislation in the Register makes it official and gives it the force of law. (It can be then challenged in the courts if it is deficient in anyway.) If it is controversial, the publication is often delayed a day or two to let the storm abate. My guess is that the Interior Department has not published the change and it will sit in limbo until Secretary Zinke and President Trump talk. It may be weeks or it may be days.”

Meanwhile, the chief executive officer of a South Africa-based pro-hunting, ivory and rhino horn trade organisation, the True Green Alliance, Mr Ron Thomson said the original ban on Zimbabwe’s elephant hunting trophies was never justified because the USFWS (at that time under the Obama administration), was greatly under the influence of the American animal rights brigade.

“Indeed, Obama himself, is a fellow traveller and supporter of an animal rights group called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) — whatever that acronym is supposed to mean,” said Mr Thomson. “The USFWS claimed that they had imposed the ban because Zimbabwe was unable to guarantee the sustainability of its stated annual elephant hunting quota. That is laughable. Those figures were, in fact, far too low. And the ban illustrated just how ignorant of the wildlife management facts pertaining to trophy hunting in Zimbabwe was the USFWS at that time; or has been at any other time.”

Mr Thomson said that like the major elephant populations throughout the whole of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe’s elephant populations were then – and remain now – gigantically in excess of their habitats’ elephant carrying capacities; and they could easily have sustained a hunting quota that was ten times (and more) above the official number.

“And it is because of actions – like the ban on the importation of Zimbabwe’s elephant hunting trophies to America — that the rest of the world has given undeserved credibility to the animal rights’ propaganda proclamations that the elephant in Africa is endangered and that it is facing extinction; which are far from true,” said Mr Thomson.

“The facts of the matter are that Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park now has 40 times as many elephants as its elephant carrying capacity had been previously determined — when the habitats were healthy in 1960. And the country’s Gonarezhou National Park is in much the same situation. Under our very noses these game reserves (and others in southern Africa) are being rapidly reduced to desert status with a constantly diminishing biological diversity.

Why? Because the rest of the world – in a very doctrinaire fashion —believes it has the right to interfere in Africa’s wildlife management affairs. The whole of the Western World (it seems) – like the good neo-colonialists that they all seem to be – believe that we Africans are too stupid to know what is best for our continent, our wildlife and our people.”

“The American Trump administration has now reversed the USFWS’s previously uncalled for, insupportable, unwise, and bullying demands on Zimbabwe’s wildlife management programme,” said Mr Thomson.

“On behalf of the whole of Africa, therefore, I say thank you President Trump. Now the question remains: Will the rest of the First World follow America’s wise and rational decision – and leave Africa alone to work out its own wildlife management salvation? Unfortunately, I doubt it. There are “Big Brothers” everywhere today, and they clearly believe that they know better than us Africans do about what constitutes the “best practice” management of our own wild natural resources. There is a storm brewing. And one of these days the bubble is going to burst.”

I really believe that African elephant range states should not wait for the US President to review this process without engaging him. I think in President Trump’s administration, the African states seem to have found a rare and useful ally for sustainable use.

Therefore, President Trump can bring hope for both improved wildlife conservation and better socio-economic development for poor African rural communities settled near national parks and game reserves.

His sons also support the use of wildlife products and hunting.

In a CNN news broadcast last Friday, one of Donald Trump’s sons, Donald Jnr, who recently undertook trophy hunting in Zimbabwe, spoke in support of the USA Government’s lifting of elephant hunting trophy imports into the US.

“I have been there (referring to his recent hunting trip to Zimbabwe) to understand how it works (trophy hunting industry),” said one of Trump’s sons, “The hunters are feeding the homeless.”

About Emmanuel Koro
Emmanuel Koro is a Johannesburg-based international award-winning environmental journalist who has extensively covered conservation and development issues in African countries.

About This Article
This article was published online by The Chronicle on November 21, 2017. Link to the article http://www.chronicle.co.zw/trumps-decision-on-trophies-from-zimbabwe-elephant-hunts-bad-for-elephant-conservation/