The greatest and most counterproductive “conservation” myth of recent years is the so-called “endangered” status of the African elephant. In reality, when the species was placed on the CB Appendix I list in 1989, it initiated a sequence of emotional public reactions that set back progressive elephant management problems in Africa three full decades. The true picture concerning the status of the elephant in Africa is light-years away from the image that the media – with a great deal of self-righteous urging from the animal rights brigade – have built up in the public mind.
Indeed, it is scandalous how “truth-seeking” media and several so-called Irresponsible” governments have allowed themselves to be led by the nose of radical anti-hunters. Surely it is time society began to properly rationalize the facts of such vitally important matters, rather than simply to accept the subjective, emotion-wrapped ideologies put out by self-interested anti-hunting groups. While this may be true, it may have been necessary to “let the wheel turn” – to let the hype, the hypocrisy, that accompanied the CITES “endangered” declaration in 1989 burn itself out.
The cycle has prepared the ground for the truth to emerge, for a time to “ripen” so that the world can be presented with the facts in a properly objective manner. Certainly, all is not lost. We can make up lost ground very quickly, provided governments and society this time round are prepared to adopt (or accept) elephant management programs that are based upon sound ecological principles, upon economic and social realities in the range states, and upon simple common sense.
Neither governments nor the public, however, will ever be able to reach responsible conclusions unless we hunters provide them with facts. On the other hand, hunters will never possess those facts unless the few of us who have been deeply involved with elephant management, and who understand the intricacies of elephant management practices, share our knowledge with hunters. Hunters – who also are elephant managers – have a vital role to play in returning common sense to the equation.