BY JOHN NASH
Last week, the Mirror ran a typical piece of infantile nonsense about a Trophy hunting and Field sports website, Bookyourhunt. The article features quotes from Mr Goncalves and his faithful side-kick, Sir Ranulph Fiennes.
The picture shows, back row from left to right, Eduardo Goncalves of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting. (CBTH), Dr Mark Jones from the Born Free Foundation, thesp Peter Egan and right, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, adventurist. In front, are, on the left Bill Oddie, and on the right, film and TV thesp Carol Royle.
Wily Goncalves is, of course, the UK antis’s premier Prince of Propaganda, master of mendacious misinformation and persistent eco-parasite. Beside him, Dr Mark Jones is none other than Fishvet Jones, the born-again fish farm doctor turned rabid animal rights evangelist. Peter Egan is that gobby thesp who, without any wildlife qualifications, famously criticised one of the UK’s foremost lady scientists actually working in Africa with wildlife, while on the right stands Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who really should know better but we’ll come to him in a moment.
Viva! is a sagacity-negative organisation that says, with a straight face, “You don’t need to eat meat and it is not good for you! There is no safe amount.” They have obviously overlooked the fact that humans have been eating meat for millennia. That’s how we got here, you muppets. In fact, it can be said that when our early ancestors were vegetarians, we were monkeys, but we turned into humans when we learned to eat meat. This suggests that reverting to veganism is very retro but does explain why vegans’ simian-level philosophy is so amusing to modern humans who eat a proper diet and so can think.
Back on the street photo op, the clowns are outside the Botswana High Commission. They have a blow-up elephant (a rather infantile act outside the High Commission of a country with an admirable history of conserving thousands of real ones) to advertise Goncalves’ parasitic company and rectal algia, the CBTH. Like many others, it’s a notorious eco-chugger and money-sucker that collects money “to save animals” but apparently saves nothing and demonstrably harms plenty. They were obviously there to try and embarrass Botswana’s representatives in London, by telling Botswana it mustn’t shoot Africa’s last elephants. In reality, these idiots embarrass us in the eyes of the fine Botswana people, and here’s why:
You cannot fail to be moved by the gang’s apparent valiant attempt to save the last of the doomed elephantine beasts before it is too late, and the picture and slogan play well to animal lovers, being tailor made for the impressionable and the highly-strung. If it were true, it would be helpful. But it’s not. It’s a deceit.
Now, before you all reach for your lawyers’ phone numbers, I should point out one or two things. First and most important is that elephants are unevenly spread around Africa and unlike most countries where they are disappearing, Botswana is up to its little pink doughnut in elephants. As many as 200,000 of ‘em, a pachyderminous pestilence of plague proportions that is destroying the habitat, villagers’ crops, water supplies and occasionally they flat-pack unfortunate local villagers. At the request of affected villagers, their President Masisi has authorised the hunting of a maximum of 287 elephants (over two years) hardly likely to cause any “shooting of the last one”, since perhaps 10,000 are born every year. The money from sales to trophy hunters will, however, dilute complaints, improve tolerance for the rest, be used to pay towards game management and compensate elephant victims, while the meat will be very welcome indeed.
Wily Goncalves and Fishy Dr Jones both claim to be experts, so they must know this simple truth. They know that there is a gross over-population of elephants in Botswana and they know that there is absolutely no chance elephants will become extinct from shooting 300 odd out of 200,000 in the Northern conflict points of that wildlife wonderland. Hence my description of their cunning stunt as mendacious misinformation and a scam or trick.
So, it’s just a photo stunt and an unwarranted but rude insult to Botswana, organised by Wily Goncalves. It’s a dishonest photo-op to harvest money for his company at the risk of harming Botswana’s important eco-tourism. He has form, dear reader. Lots. He is the shady deceit behind many of the “cruel trophy hunter” clickbait stories in his idiotic “books”, and source of the infestation, in our press and online, of stories that headline IUCN warnings about falling wildlife numbers in Africa as a whole, that he then dishonestly blames on legal trophy hunters.
Wily and Fishy also know that this is deceptive because (a) the real, scientifically proven and well-known reasons for megafaunal declines are: loss of habitat, illegal poaching for bushmeat and ivory, the protection of pastoral animals or grazing and also human/wildlife conflicts, and (b) there is absolutely no scientific evidence anywhere that legal trophy hunters have endangered any African species in modern times.
Worse still, many of their dishonest claims are then outrageously illustrated with pirated pictures of legal hunts in Southern Africa, where the populations of all hunted animals are rising, not falling, and where hunted animals, including trophy animals, are subsequently eaten and not at all endangered. The reason is simple – rural people raise animals ahead of demand by fee-paying hunters. Forty million acres of them in South Africa alone, in addition to the animals in the National Reserves. They’re like deer in Scotland, but with stripes and trunks and curly horns and stuff.
So now to Sir Ranulph Fiennes. What the hell is the famous Fiennes doing in the company of these grubby eco-chuggers? We all love animals, Sir Ranulph, but these people have nothing to do with animal welfare. They are parasites of animal welfare. The community leaders (the real ones) of millions of rural Africans (the real ones) wrote a letter to him personally in early May, asking him not to interfere because foreign bans on legal trophy imports hurt rural Africans and trample on their rights as humans to use their environment sustainably as they see fit. The CBTH may fill Wily Goncalves’ piggy bank, but it hurts poor people and wildlife in Africa.
Sir Ranulph is an icon of British grit and endeavour, is he not? He is not only altitude-proof and (almost) frost-proof (give or take a few fingers), he is widely admired for his geriatric boys-own adolescence – if only he stuck to exploring. Now, sadly, we have to add a prominent brass neck to his attributes.
You see, the brave adventurer wrote a glowing but horsefeathers introduction for Wily Goncalves’ donation-gathering tract, “Trophy Hunting Exposed”. This “book” complained, inter alia, that hunting safari brochures “cruelly highlight the differences between the local have-nots with the have-yachts”, (clever slogan, eh?). Now, apart from the fact that fluffy eco-tourist yacht owners also show some of the said difference when they pay $1000 a night to stay at Shamwari and its Born Free Foundation lion sanctuary (where shooting the wildlife would presumably upset the residents), the statement is itself a bit rich when so ardently supported by Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 3rd Baronet of Banbury, OBE, who adds gravitas to Wily’s deceit because he is a proper stiff upper lip nob and even grew up in South Africa and so apparently knows all about African wildlife.
Not. The truth is that he spent 10 years of his childhood in apartheid SA, living in and waited upon in the million £££ family property in Constantia, poshest of posh areas of Capetown, a servant-attended silver spoon life as a grandson of one of the richest families in the country, the Rathfelders, and he left the country when he was only 12 years old.
While fat-cat Constantia provides little childhood opportunity for practising wildlife management, he should by now know a bit about exploitation – his Capetown family, the Rathfelders (who, ironically, once owned Halfway House, headquarters of the Cape Hunt) made their money from the vineyards of the Cape. They were, in fact, at the top end of the ultra-haves, to be contrasted with the poor have-nots – the people of colour who toiled in their vineyards. Worse still, if you peep back still further in it’s history, long before the family bought it, those very same vineyards were hewn from the bush by means of a dodgy settler land grant and generations of labour by people whose early employment conditions were, ahem, slavery and indenture, so no bloody statue for you, Sir Ranulph. You’re cancelled.
And, on the subject of the wildlife, the family estate was originally a lovely area, noted for its many rhinoceroses by Governor Jan van Riebeeck in 1654. The animals all disappeared when the vineyards appeared. Later, in more modern times, when anti-apartheid boycotts destroyed the income and jobs of the vineyards, the family veered around the sanction and reportedly sold the estate to property developers. So, Constantia then became a really posh, really high-class expensive residential area, where only the have-yachts can afford to live, still waited upon by the have-nots, their sad, historical sweat and bones buried beneath the luxury swimming pools long forgotten. Thus, the family ex-property started with colonialism, was born in the clearance of the habitat and its creatures, grew through slavery and later cheap labour, and finally somersaulted into high-end property development for the uber-rich. The have-nots didn’t get much out of it, did they, Sir Ranulph?
It is reported that, on his visits back home to Capetown, Sir R loves to eat out in that leafy African bush and wildlife jungle haven known as Victoria and Alfred Waterfront (below), natural home of the real have-yachts, where he no doubt sits in the non-thorny non-undergrowth in his explorer outfit, observing the non-passing herds of wildebeests, zebras, elephants and other wildlife he is apparently acquainted with and loves so much.
By now, perhaps you understand why Africans are a wee bit annoyed by rich foreign aristo’s who have done very nicely out Africa and its land, its animals, its sons and its daughters, or who now intercept money donated to help its wildlife, but then have the temerity to tell the locals to stay poor and stop sustainably using their own wildlife assets in order to live. That’s why African Community Leaders write angry letters to you, Sir Ranulf, and why you are an embarrassment to all of us, whether talking out of your fundament in Wily’s trick book, in the Mirror or standing outside Botswana’s offices with a stupid blow up elephant and your irrelevant and deceitful slogans.
We love loopy aristo’s in the UK. Nobody here particularly minds if you were born with a silver spoon stuck in every orifice, but if I were you, Fiennes old chap, with your family history, I would not make too loud a fuss about wildlife, exploitation or the haves and have-nots in Africa or anywhere else. It’s also hardly good form to point what’s left of your finger at wildlife-rich Botswana.
So, a simple peasant’s word in your gilt-edged, frostbitten ear, Sir – it might be an idea to try and find some more honest friends or look for a mountain other than a mountain of hypocrisy to sit on. If you don’t, when the truth eventually comes out, you better pray that your expeditionary skills equip you to skedaddle quickly as far from these parasitic rodents as possible.
John Nash grew up in West Cornwall and was a £10 pom to Johannesburg in the early 1960’s. He started well in construction project management, mainly high rise buildings but it wasn’t really Africa, so he went bush, prospecting and trading around the murkier bits of the bottom half of the continent. Now retired back in Cornwall among all the other evil old pirates. His interests are still sustainable resources, wildlife management and the utilitarian needs of rural Africa.