Want to save giraffes? Buy them

Anti-hunters are good at whingeing about hunting tourism, which provides most of the money for wildlife conservation in the developing world. But will they put their hands in their pockets to save giraffes by buying them, in the same way that hunters do? That’s the challenge from the Nordic Safari Club.

Angolan giraffe
Angolan giraffe

NSC communications officer Jens Ulrik Høgh has written an open letter to anti-hunting activsts including Ricky Gervais, Kevin Pieterson, Trevor Noah, Piers Morgan, Zac Goldsmith, Chris Packham, Brian May, Ed Sheeran, Carrie Symonds, Lewis Hamilton, Hannes Jaenicke, and Eduardo Goncalves. It reads like this:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Would you like to take over 10 Angolan giraffes?

The reason I’m asking is that at the end of November, I am going on a hunting trip to a private nature reserve in Namibia. One of the things I plan to do while I’m there is to participate in giraffe hunting on the property. The aim is to cull around 10 of these animals. Why? Because the population is growing too big in relation to the natural carrying capacity of the area. There is not enough food to sustain a larger population of giraffes. It is a nature conservation success story. The giraffes on the property are thriving and now the population is in need of management – just like moose in Sweden, wild boar in Germany and red deer in Scotland.

However, these animals do not necessarily have to be killed. You are welcome to take them over! I have arranged with the owner of the giraffes that you – or any other anti-hunters – can take over these giraffes on the condition that you have the animals caught and translocated by professionals to a suitable habitat before the end of April 2020. If you take all 10 and have room for more I have already asked around and I can probably get you hundreds (if not a few thousand) of giraffes on almost the same terms every year in the near future. The natural surplus of giraffes is that big at the moment in Namibia and South Africa.

We are fine with either solution. It is not at all a problem to cull the animals. It is not even dramatic to us. In the case of the 10 giraffes in Namibia, the meat will be distributed among the locals.

The 10 giraffes in question are Southern Giraffes of the subspecies Angolan Giraffe. The IUCN conservation status of this subspecies is “least concern” (same status as crows, roe deer, and mallards to name a few). That means that this subspecies is not threatened at all. One of the main reasons for the favorable conservation status of Angolan Giraffes is that they thrive on thousands of private nature reserves funded by hunting tourism. According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, there were about 4,000 Angolan Giraffes in Namibia in 1975. Today there are more than 12,000 and at least 6,500 lives in private nature reserves.

Previously hunting guests – who paid a premium price for the experience of hunting a surplus giraffe – carried out a large part of the population management. However, due to the numerous “name and shame” campaigns on social media against hunters (especially female hunters for some reason) who hunted giraffes, it is not as popular to hunt giraffes as it has been. That is a problem for the landowners (and the giraffes) because it makes giraffes less attractive to own. It also makes it a little less financially attractive to set aside land for natural habitat instead of simply using it for traditional livestock farming – and that is a problem for everyone with a passion for wild nature. Because if cattle pay better than wildlife, then the wildlife will be replaced by cattle and the habitat will disappear.

However, as long as these areas are still nature reserves, the same number of surplus animals will be shot with or without hunting tourism and they are utilized locally exactly the same way. The only difference is the economy for the landowner who chose to invest in natural habitat in the first place.

From what I understand, you all want to ban hunting tourism (you call it “trophy hunting”). You are all very clear about your hate of “trophy hunters” and you claim that there are practical and financially viable alternatives to the “evil”, “archaic”, “immoral”, and “unethical” practice of hunting. My question to you is simple:

What is your alternative?

Can you please show us exactly what you will do about the surplus animals that are a result of successful nature conservation in Southern Africa? Will you let the animals starve to death, introduce large predators in all areas, have the giraffes culled or move them to “a better place” where they can die of old age?

Let us start with the 10 surplus giraffes, which I will begin to cull at the end of November if you do not step in and take over the animals. This is not meant as a threat. It is an offer. A chance for you to demonstrate your alternatives to hunting.

I will not involve the landowner in the sh*tstorm I expect from this, so anybody genuinely interested in buying these giraffes is more than welcome to contact me on the following email and I will forward all serious requests to the owner. Practical nature conservationists are very curious to see your alternative solutions and many landowners would be delighted to sell you hordes of live giraffes to relocate to the nature areas you manage… my deadline is November 15th.

Write to this address to express your interest and we will take it from there.

we.want.10.giraffes@gmail.com

So…. Are you ready to take over 10 giraffes?

All the best

Jens Ulrik Høgh

So far, the antis have not responded, except to flag the post on Facebook to try to get it deleted.