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Bleeding Hearts & Good Intentions Kill Wildlife

31/07/2015 23:52 BST | Updated 31/07/2016 10:59 BST

In case anyone was wondering what Brad Linzy thinks about big game hunting in Africa, your wait is over. After many many minutes of silence on this issue, your oracle of dispassionate truth has found the correct position, and I'm now prepared to make an official statement...

Anyone who truly loves wildlife should be for legal, controlled, big game hunting. As unpalatable as it may be to some people - largely a growing population of "city folk" who have never been hunting nor slaughtered their own farm animals for food - legal big game hunting is the best device for real conservation. It's a more effective tool in the conservationist's arsenal than all the feel-good, black tie silent auction wine tasting galas, adopt-an-animal schemes, and stuffed toy purchases at the zoo gift shop.

The reality is big game hunting provides the largely poor and often politically unstable nations with the largest big game populations a clear economic incentive to conserve their wildlife resource, and most importantly, to set aside the large swaths of land and dedicate the manpower necessary to protect them. Hunting, and the big money it brings, ensures that the land is worth more as a preserve than as farmland.

Legalized hunting provides governments with the incentive to budget for conservation. In the same way Canada doesn't want to squander its forestry economy by cutting down every tree, poor African nations seeing a boost in Western tourism for the purpose of big game hunting have a clear economic incentive to preserve wildlife. To every soap box animal lover out there re-posting empty threats about "hunting the hunter", let me remind you that big game hunting in Africa funds the parks, which ultimately fights poaching, which is the true threat to the existence of large mammals there.

Anytime there is a picture of a game hunter with a lion, the internet blows up with well-meaning, but ultimately wrong-headed reactions. Some of the more disgusting commentary threatens violence against humans. The truth is, these hunts are often for elderly or infirm animals whose natural deaths will come soon enough anyway and would be of no benefit to their species outside of a legal hunt.

I personally think that the primary aim of hunting should be for food, not trophies, but I also understand harvesting animals from a population for other purposes such as preventing the spread of disease, to which the elderly are more prone. It is clear to any rational observer that legal big game hunts do benefit conservation. What is needed is a better, more rational kind of conservationist, and one who is unafraid to speak uncomfortable truths to those whose actions are ruled more by their hearts than their heads. We need conservationists willing to educate the black tie gala goers and bleeding heart animal lovers on the benefits of legal big game hunting, not just reinforce the, frankly, delusional notion that simply creating laws against legal hunts will keep poachers at bay.

It is often said the road to hell is paved with good intentions. For protected species and other big game animals in Africa, it could be the road to extinction.