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Position Report

July 12, 2016

 

 

BIG game hunting is a hugely emotive issue – and I have to admit that I personally am undecided as to the merits or otherwise of hunting. To me the issues are simple, yet finely balanced. I ignore the trident calls of self-righteous ‘bunny huggers’ who say hunting is barbaric. These are the same people who are vegetarians
because they can’t eat anything with a
face, yet wear leather shoes, belts and
handbags.
The benefit of hunting is that it
preserves wildlife species and game
reserves by bringing much needed
money to the vast game industry. If there
wasn’t a financial incentive, there would
be little done to protect species such
as lions and elephants. The argument
against hunting is that it systematically
depletes the gene pool by taking out the
biggest and the best of the species for
trophies.
If you’re wondering why I’m
discussing the merits or otherwise of
hunting, it’s because the aviation industry
finds itself increasingly bound up in the
conservation business. IATA estimates
the value of illegal wildlife trafficking
at $19 billion dollars – and most of it
goes by air. Flying tourists and
hunters to game reserves
is big business in South
Africa.
Much has
already been
done by IATA.
Last year,
a memorandum of understanding
was signed with the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered
Species (CITES). Workshops for airline
and airport staff were held at Nairobi and
Bangkok. In addition, IATA joined the US
Agency for International Development’s
(USAID) Reducing Opportunities for
Unlawful Transport of Endangered
Species (ROUTES) Partnership.
At the same time there was a clamour
for airlines to not transport hunting
trophies. Somewhat reactively, South
African Airways agreed to this, but then,
when it realised that it was on shaky
ground, it changed its mind a few months
later. It was argued that SAA had no right
not to carry the hunting trophies – as
what would the case be if it was not for
instance a whole mounted head, but a
bag that had been made from a leopard
hide. Where to draw the line?
Still the airline industry is desperate
to be seen to be politically correct, and
if being pro-conservation helps, than it
will seize the opportunity. Thus, at the
2016 IATA AGM in Dublin, a unanimous
resolution was taken denouncing the
illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife
products and pledging to partner
with governments and conservation
organisations in the fight against the
traffickers of endangered animals.
IATA is pleased with its progress. An
IATA Environment Committee Wildlife
Taskforce has been set up to monitor
progress and provide advice on the next
steps.
This was an easy victory – and it begs
the question – why can’t IATA get its act
together and get the airlines to track their
planes on long over-water routes? The
technology exists – yet all we hear are
excuses – and at time of writing Egypt
Air’s Flight MS804 has still not been
found – three weeks after it went down
while being tracked by radar.​

 

 

 

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