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turtle 2Conservation vs Tradition Hunting
by S Dale Bowman, Earthrace Conservation New Zealand

Since the beginning of humans’ time on earth we have been a race of hunters and gatherers, there is no disputing this. We have survived by eating our way to the top of the food chain and along the way many species have been lost to extinction. We have evolved to become the planets biggest predator and we do it well but within this evolution we have also increased our understanding of the impact we have on our environment….well, some of us have.

Jump back a million years or so and the first human types were running around with spears and stone tools out catching their dinner. Their prey was plentiful and the humans were not. The ratio was a lot healthier than what it is now and the other big difference was that they were smart enough to only take what they needed. They only took what they needed not out of a ideology of conservation but for the fact that the bounty was plentiful and to keep it this way it made sense even at this early stage of human evolution to ensure that your prey would always be there. This was the only option for our ancestors to survive, no grocery stores, farmers markets, corner dairies or 7 Elevens. I would term this accidental conservation or conservation for need.

Jump forward to the present and what do we have now, lot’s more humans and a lot less prey. We have out grown this planet and we are eating our way through everything and anything we can get our hands on. Corporations are making huge profits by exploiting our oceans with no regard for the impact they are having and while governments take their cut in taxes they are left unchecked to continue until there is nothing left. There is no argument that there is a need for commercial fishing but it needs to be far more regulated and controlled to ensure that out fish stocks stay healthy and able to replenish themselves.

The issue with traditional hunting is far more complex. It does encase the fact that it is having an impact on the numbers of certain species, certain types of whales, dugongs and sea turtles for example but it also brings into play our concern for animal cruelty. Whether it be Japanese whaling, Taiji dolphin slaughter, Canadian seal clubbing or the spearing or drowning of dugongs and sea turtles in Australia the time has come to make a stand against the pain and suffering inflicted on these animals and mammals in the name of tradition. One of the core things that have made humans successful is our ability to change and we need to ensure that we see a change in traditional hunting laws. Inflicting pain on any living creature using the argument that it is okay because our ancestors did it is simplistic and flawed. When that suffering is being inflicted on something that is listed as endangered or on the brink of extinction then it actually goes against the philosophy of our ancestors therefore making it even more ridiculous.

Please take the time to send emails to your government if they are excluding traditional hunting from animal cruelty laws or allowing endangered animals to be excluded from protection laws. Yes we are the top of the food chain but with this role comes great responsibility and currently many people and governments are not living up to this duty.

Earthrace is proud to support the work of Colin Riddell who works tirelessly to protect Australia’s sea turtles and dugongs

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