In 2006, I was invited to Kenya to participate in a conference debating whether to resurrect Kenyan hunting. One of the sponsors of the conference, IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), packed the first rows of the auditorium with anti-hunting advocates. My role was to debate famed Richard Leakey, who was the director of the Kenya Wildlife Service when the hunting ban was implemented. Given his reputation and the sympathetic audience, I would have preferred facing a Cape buffalo with my bow as I had done a few years before. Leakey took the podium first as his allies listened intently. He opened saying “If anyone here thinks there is no hunting in Kenya, he is wrong. The ‘hunting’ is illegal hunting for bush meat, and it is decimating wildlife outside the protected areas.”
The comparison of data between Kenya, where hunting was banned, and Botswana, where it was allowed until 2014, and the Galana story demonstrate that hunting is the engine of profit that allows sustainable conservation. The Kenyan elephant population fell precipitously between 1973 and 2013 while the Botswanan elephant population skyrocketed. Seizures of illegal ivory were nearly five time larger in Kenya than Botswana between 1989 and 2011. And Kenya accounted for more than 15 percent of all illegal ivory seizure in Africa over the past two decades compared to just over 3 percent for Botswana. These data show that the prohibition of hunting kills the goose that lays golden eggs for the people of Africa and for the wildlife.
With such evidence, you would think the debate would be over, but the anti-hunting groups claiming to represent “animal welfare” continue their rant. While it is true that both hunters and anti-hunters want to preserve wildlife, as Anderson said, only hunters are doing something about it, and they have the evidence to prove it.