BY JOHN NASH
CSM readers will be aware of the saying, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread”. Well, Dear Reader, may I offer you a complete idiot not only rushing in, but hurling himself into an intellectual slurry-pit at warp speed 20. He could not have put more feet into his mouth if he was a millipede contortionist. He stands as a severe and ominous example to you, the country folk of the UK, wondering why you are so misunderstood and put upon.
I refer, of course, to the Right Honourable Sir Roger Gale MP yet again, and the occasion was an online debate on the website mojostreaming (another of those parasitic nests of entertainers and slebs who have jumped on the hunting bandwagon in order to emote and intercept money, darling). The debate was between Sir Roger and a well-known Scandinavian hunter, Jens-Ulrik Høgh from Nordic Safari Club. Fieldsports TV offered their observation, well worth reading later.
Although described as a “very knowledgeable and accomplished individual” by the mojo website host, Katherine Mozzone, throughout the “debate” Sir Roger was a continual source of embarrassment to viewers as he crossed and uncrossed his lips. Knowledgeable? If brains were dynamite, this pompous and arrogant old fart wouldn’t have enough to blow his hat off. He epitomises NHS warnings about animal rights causing premature exasperation. He got a dishonourable mention in my recent CSM elephant piece.
It is difficult to know where to start, such is the abysmal depth of Sir Roger’s total inability to grasp even the most rudimentary concepts of modern trophy hunting, economic sustainable use and dryland utilisation. I present for your indigestion a fact check of his ludicrous, incoherent and illogical wind-bagging:
- Gale – repeatedly asserted that Høgh’s Nordic Safari Club represented Safari Club International, suggesting a financial link. When Høgh said it is not true, Gale argued that it said so on Nordic’s website, adding that Høgh said one thing and his website said another, “so we have established your website is incorrect” (i.e. you are lying). It turns out the old duffer confused Nordic Safari Club, which Høgh represents, with the Swedish chapter of SCI, which he doesn’t. It appears that gormless Gale looked at the wrong bloody website. Hunters at least try to shoot at the right target. This time “tractors” just will not pass as an excuse.
- Gale – We in Parliament receive spurious messages acting on behalf of trophy hunting organisations that pretend their communities are in some way benefitting. We have to make sure that the real communities – not the artificial ones that are paid to lobby people like me – but the real communities in Africa – a continent that I know very well and have visited often – benefit properly from tourism, from photo-tourism. Did Gormless Gale perchance refer to the Community Leaders Network of Spokespeople across nine Southern African countries? They are, in fact, the real thing. They wrote a letter to Parliament and their names are available on the letter they wrote to UK Slebs in desperation, asking for the anti-hunting campaign to be dropped because it would harm them, their wildlife and their habitat. They are the genuine representatives of millions of remote, rural Africans, yet Gale dismisses them with a wave of his colonialist hand as dupes and lackeys of trophy hunters. Could somebody tell this doddering, arrogant old crypto-racist that Black Voices Matter. How dare he dismiss them! It’s their wildlife and their livelihoods he is piddling on. They are real. Gale is the only spurious voice of pretence here.
- Gale – The habitat is disappearing. Civilised people are trying to conserve what habitat is left. There he goes again, the shabby neo-colonialist. Now he’s suggesting Africans are uncivilised. The habitat is disappearing because of population expansion and rising standards of living in Africa, not because of hunting or “uncivilised Africans”. Is this the view of the Conservative Party? Someone please ask the party chairman.
- Gale – Lions have fallen from 200,000 to about 10,000. That way lies extinction. No it doesn’t. It means that lions will disappear outside the reserves. In the reserves, they are more or less safe, and according to Panthera, the world’s wild cat charity, there are about 20,000 with numbers rising slowly in suitably protected conservation areas. The real number is probably close to 30,000. Outside the reserves, they are disappearing because they are lions. A lion or leopard running loose in Gormless Gale’s own North Thanet constituency would be promptly shot. Why should Africans be any different? In a counteraction to this loss, South African lion farmers have raised 10,000 lions, only to be vilified by Gale et al.
- Gale – Compare a lion hunting fee with a lion’s lifetime income from photo-tourism and it pales into insignificance. Yes, a lion photographed while it lives a constantly disturbed life in a tourist reserve (where that “lion income” is shared with all the other thousands of animals in the same reserve). But lions are not hunted inside the reserves. They are hunted in buffer zones (to prevent dispersing reserve lions getting to surrounding farms and villages) or hunting grounds, where no eco-tourists go because it’s nasty, insecty, tough country with few animals and no amenities. Outside the reserves, lions are a problem and become a danger to the locals. They will be killed anyway, so why not sell a few to hunters to raise community income? In reality, numerically, most hunted lions are raised and hunted on private farms and hunting reserves. Tourists don’t go to see them, and they are not on any endangered lists because they are privately owned.
- Gale – I am amazed that you, Mr Høgh, like killing animals. Mr Høgh tried to explain to this blockhead that he likes hunting, not killing, but accepted killing as part of the process. As he put it, do photo-tourists travel overseas in order to enjoy burning jet fuel? Do you eat steak or wear leather shoes because you enjoy killing animals? No, but these costs are accepted as part of the process. Same with hunting.
- Gale – If we kill those animals and birds and reptiles, then there will be nothing left it will be a barren, empty space. A statement of the bleedin’ obvious, but irrelevant here. Hunting protects over a million sq. kilometres of Southern Africa. Regulated hunting (and trophy hunting is probably the most regulated pastime in the world), is sustainable, and the fees it pays to hunt a few of the animals protect the people, the wildlife and the habitat from alternative use. So, far from producing an empty space, trophy hunting (via its monetary contribution and giving value to wildlife and habitat) does the precise opposite.
- Gale – I have visited game reserves. Perhaps, but that only makes him an eco-voyeur, a rubberneck, a kyk-daar. Reserves, by definition, are not where he will see any hunting or hunters, so he will learn nothing about hunting. Those sanitised reserves will be managing their animals, no doubt lethally, but they won’t do it in front of bunny-hugging, over-sensitive visitors. Gale might as well go to a city aquarium to learn about the fishing industry.
- Gale – I have visited an organisation that produces meat for canned hunting. What is he talking about? Hunting SPAM? Idiot. Dartmoor ponies were turned into zoo food, but that wasn’t trophy hunting. Try to keep up, Sir Roger.
- Gale – I believe we are entitled and right to ban the importation of animal body parts. Not if you are killing people, wildlife and habitat in other countries just to fondle your own stupid ignorance and prejudices. 100 scientists (real ones, Sir Roger) wrote to the government, saying that a ban on the importation of hunting trophies would hurt people, animals and conservation. The IUCN, the world’s organisation dealing with conservation, recognises that regulated trophy hunting has benefits for conservation.
- Gale – You are trying to justify the unjustifiable and defend the indefensible. Another slogan out of the children’s ABC book of Animal Rights folly.Who says, Sir Roger? So far, Gormless Gale got ten out of ten wrong. People don’t have to justify their actions to this myopic bigot, and Africans are entitled to use their own resources sustainably and wisely as they see fit.
- Gale – Numbers are animals are falling where trophy hunting is allowed, but in Kenya, the lion population is recovering. Completely wrong about numbers. Total and utter bollocks. The opposite is true. Animal numbers are rising where hunting is allowed and falling where it is prohibited because regulated, high-value hunting gives wild animals a value. In Kenya, lion numbers have been rising in the last few years in the reserves, but 75% of the rest of Kenya’s wildlife has disappeared since their hunting ban because it has no value, so other land use is more viable.
- Gale – Mr Høgh, you are diminishing year on year the wildlife population and it is used as a front for poaching. Mr Høgh and trophy hunting are not diminishing anything. Where he hunts, it is regulated, and wherever regulated hunting takes place, numbers are stable or rising. It is certainly not used as a cover for poaching. Trophy hunters pay huge fees and won’t tolerate theft or eco-vandalism by poachers.
- Gale – We know that others have to go behind and pick up the bits. Now he is making things up. There are no “bits to pick up”. Trophy hunting is supervised by professionals, whose job is to make sure the correct animal is killed in the correct way. It can go wrong but is followed up to avoid wounded animals suffering. When an animal is harvested for a trophy, there is usually a rush by locals for the meat – they love “picking up the bits” and welcome trophy hunters for that reason. Meat hunters don’t leave the meat behind.
- Gale – Banning trophy hunting – we can’t ban it – that is up to the Africans, but what we can do, in a civilised country… WHAAAT!!! Africans are not civilised????? Wash your mouth with soap!
- Gale – People don’t eat an elephant or a rhinoceros. Oh, yes they do, with great relish. Meat is precious to people in Africa. They have always eaten their wildlife. Here they are: SNOWFLAKE WARNING – GRAPHIC REALITY – yummy elephant, and yummy rhino.
- Gale – asked if Jens eats a leopard. Jens replied with an example of a fox in the UK – does a farmer eat it? Few locals eat leopards (it tastes like the cheapest, rancid tinned cat food!) but the locals do wear them.
- Høgh said in Africa, like everywhere, hunting is just like hunting in Scotland. Gormless Gale said, “No its not – the gamekeepers of Scotland know what they are doing”. WHAAAAT?? With someone tell this nitwit that it is difficult to become a licensed Professional Hunter (like a professionally qualified ghillie in Africa). Here is a typical course. You can’t go trophy hunting without a licensed Professional Hunter with you to uphold legal and conservation standards. In the Kalahari, you will probably also be accompanied by a San (bushman) tracker. They have been hunting animals since the dawn of mankind. They might know more than Sir Roger.
- Gale – We are talking about canned hunting …animals driven into an area so people can shoot them. Fool. Pheasants in Europe, yes. Wild Pigs in Europe, yes. With lots of guns, it’s safer to have all the guns in a line and drive the game to them. But trophy hunting in Africa, with only one or two hunters, is like stalking in Scotland. In Africa they use walk and stalk hunting, on foot. Some predators are brought to gun range using bait, otherwise you would never see them.
- Gale – You are doing huge scientific damage to the gene pool of lions. Really? What “scientific damage”? More than half of all young lions die before one year old, and more than half of all lions are killed by other lions. If anything, lion farmers in South Africa, experienced cattle breeders, have preserved the DNA by raising 10,000 lions. They sell some to hunters.
- Gale – Trophy hunters are depleting the animals, together with the poachers. Poaching and trophy hunting go hand in hand. Høgh had to point out that poaching is to trophy hunting what shoplifting is to shopping. Poachers are unregulated, unaccountable thieves who kill indiscriminately. Where does a fool like Gale get his mad ideas from?
- Gale – I want to stop the export of deer antlers from the UK. About 20,000 visiting foreign hunters take horns home with them from the UK. They will be exhibited and admired for years to come. Other UK deer horns, not required as mementos, end up in UK pet stores as dog chews. Is that more dignified?
- Gale – In Botswana there was a change of government. The president who imposed the ban was ousted. For wholly personal, commercial interests, an incoming president [Masisi] then broke the ban, and that has damaged the wildlife population not improved it. That was an act of political vandalism and it’s a great sadness that it happened. Rubbish. Outrageous defamation and an insult to Botswana and their President. The reality is that there was a four-year moratorium on hunting, imposed by previous President Khama in an attempt to grab the hunting grounds for his tourism business. It was a disaster and he was thrown out. The present President Masisi put the mess right and gave the villages who are affected by wildlife small quotas to sell a few of their animals to hunters. Unsurprisingly, President Masisi’s Office has not been impressed to say the least, and fact checkers give Gale a fat “0” for truth.
- Gale – not all the world’s evils are caused by trophy hunting. There is habitat loss that causes wildlife loss, for example. Precisely, Sir Roger. And the income from hunting has persuaded South African farmers to re-wild forty million acres of natural habitat (for hunting and venison) previously lost to conventional farming. As Mr Høgh pointed out, but Sir Roger ignored, it is the biggest re-wilding project on Earth, twice the size of Scotland. UK media never mention this wonderful success.
- Gale – another problem is climate change also having a devastating effect on wildlife. Could somebody please explain to this very simple-minded man that one of the reasons why wild animals are better farm income than traditional livestock is because they are low-input, low-carbon and low-water. Farmers are turning to wildlife because of climate change.
- Gale – one thing we can do is manage wildlife properly. I have two rescued bears in my constituency. South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, for example, have managed it properly. They have millions of large wild animals inside and outside their reserves, and in SA the numbers are up 20x in thirty or forty years, in the hunting areas. The UK has lost most of its biodiversity. and according to the Royal Society, it’s still declining. Stop pointing fingers, Sir Roger.
- Gale – Cockfighting, bear baiting, dog fighting. All consigned to the dustbin of history where it belongs. Trophy hunting the same. Not the same, at all. Hunting supports more than 1.3 million sq. kms of Sub-Saharan Africa. The consumptive wildlife industry in SA employs 100,000 people (trophy hunting alone 17,000), and over a million animals are shot, producing 50,000 tons of organic, free-range venison annually, but animal numbers still go up because more are born than harvested. Trophy hunters take a few skins and horns of those animals. It’s part of a huge industry.
- Høgh had to point out that hunting and photo-tourism are just two forms of land use.
- Gale – We need to get more money into conservation. if we don’t there won’t be any animals left. the children of Africa won’t have any wildlife. Rubbish. While any money is welcome in Africa, more land is conserved with hunting income than in all the publicly supported reserves. The numbers are going UP in the south. How does 40 million acres of re-wilded wildlife and rising numbers = “none left”?????
- Gale – (after stating that hunters issue hunting licences, and being corrected – African governments, not hunting organisations, issue licences) I find it abhorrent that a human being can issue a licence for another human being to kill a wild animal. It is not a government invitation to kill. It is a government regulatory control. It is a licence. It is permission to shoot a particular animal in a particular place within a quota so that the overall local population is sustained as part of a conservation and bio-diversity plan. Without a licence, you can’t trophy hunt and you won’t get CITES permits.
So there you are, Dear Reader. Sir Roger Gale made 30-odd pronouncements on Trophy Hunting in this farcical “debate” and all 30 out of 30 were wrong. Nonsense. Hardly surprising since he has no qualifications in wildlife management or conservation hunting.
Why was this clown knighted in 2012 for public and political services? If he and his arrogant ilk have their way, they will inflict a cataclysm, first on Africa, and then on the economy, habitat, spirit and way of life of rural Britain. Hands up anyone who thinks this arrogant, neo-colonial crypto-racist methane generator is worth £84,000 + expenses of taxpayers money annually? Here’s what Forbes Magazine has to say about these fools, reminding them, “It must be remembered,” said Winston Churchill, “that the function of Parliament is not only to pass good laws, but to stop bad laws.”
Gale’s claim to be rescuing Africa’s wildlife from trophy hunters is like Putin’s claim to be rescuing Ukraine from Nazis. The similarity in claim is obvious – both are sheer propaganda without the slightest basis in truth – Putin’s from political and military fundamentalist delusion, Gale’s from the animal rights fundamentalist delusion.
Enough is enough. We all understand that Boris has certain conjugal trade-offs to make at home but allowing a festering bunch of liars to destroy practical field management and rural economies at home and abroad just to get your leg over and a bit of peace and quiet at home is a price too high. Wake up, Prime Minister.
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.