In the 21st century, American hunters are feeling embattled more than ever. They are feeling pressure from the anti-hunters—what I call the animal rights brigade—and wondering what can be done about it. You are not alone. For years Africa has suffered the same fate, and the intensity of our suffering is as strong as anything the Americans have experienced as the animal rights brigade works to overpower the weary and jaded people of Africa—and their easily corrupted governments.
In his treatise “The Art of War,” Sun Tzu, the renowned Chinese general, military strategist and philosopher (544 – 496 B.C.), had these wise words to say:
"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles;
"If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat; and
"If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle."
Another great truism is that, when possible, fight your battles on another’s soil because you can then win without damaging your own national assets. Unfortunately, the battle is as strong in America as it is in South Africa as we face the common enemy. In preparing, we must ask ourselves: What do we know about the enemy—the animal rights brigade—and do we know enough about them to confront them in battle?
Kenya: A Case in Point First World animal rights NGOs began waging war to gain supremacy in Africa 50 years ago. It started when Kenya gained independence in 1964 and Jomo Kenyatta was appointed the first black Kenyan president of the former British colony. Through adaptive administration—winning some battles and losing others, but always gaining more ground in their campaigns—the animal rightists secured the control they sought. From this we learned they have great foresight, patience and tenacity—and that when you give them an inch they take a mile.
First World animal rightist NGOs have had permanent branch offices in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, since the mid 1960s. Today they control and dictate wildlife policy, accomplished through the corruption of officials at the highest political level.
The Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) is a parastatal body that is granted an annual pittance by the Kenyan government. It is required to supplement its budget deficit by begging, borrowing and/or stealing money from wherever it can get it. The NGOs conveniently oblige, paying tens of millions of U.S. dollars annually to subsidize the KWS budget. But it comes at a price. The funding is made available on two conditions:
Hunting, banned in Kenya in 1977, is not resuscitated.
No attempt is made to introduce a sustainable wildlife-utilization program.
So in the absence of any other income source, the KWS complies. Wildlife, therefore, has no intrinsic value to Kenya’s indigenous people who now look upon it as competition for their domestic livestock and crops, both of which do hold great value to the local people. Because there is no legitimate income from the harvesting of wild animals, people are prepared to kill every animal they find to reduce competition for limited grazing; to reduce crop-raiding by wild animals; to eliminate stock-killing predators; and/or to obviate the transmission of disease from wild animals to domestic stock.
The animal rightists don’t make much money in Kenya or anywhere else in Africa but they are quite content to maintain this status quo because they can make money by continuing to mislead their gullible publics at home. Back in the United States and in Europe, NGO headquarters accrue vast sums of money by telling their unknowledgeable urban followers they have stopped all hunting in the African countries where they operate. They say they are saving countless wild animals’ lives and are maintaining pressure on African governments to prohibit harvesting wild animals for meat. They make millions of dollars each year merely by preying on sensitive donors in the First World who believe the NGOs are “doing a sterling job in Africa.”
How Africa's Scenario Impacts American Hunters So does any of this information matter to the average American hunter—especially if he or she will never visit Africa to hunt? Yes, it does because the animal rights movement is an international movement. Examining the status of anti-hunting extremism in Africa can give American hunters yet another—even if just a minuscule—insight into the psyche of their animal rightist enemies and their modus operandi. It allows them to “better know thine enemy.”
Of course, the NRA, its 5 million-plus members and other hunters and shooters and like-minded hunting and conservation groups across America have addressed animal rights issues since at least the early 1980s. What in many places began as a series of ballot measures regarding trapping quickly led to targeting various hunting methods and/or the given species hunted through ballot initiatives and by pressuring state legislatures and Congress. While I believe many U.S. state wildlife agencies have not yet been infiltrated by the animal rights brigade’s philosophy, states such as California are caving rapidly as it becomes an epicenter for animal rights extremism in America.
Did you know the movement has succeeded to the point various law schools in America now offer courses in animal rights laws? For those who are just now opening their eyes to the severity of the well-orchestrated threats to their American hunting heritage, you are about to learn that animal rights extremism may have taken hold in certain areas of your country even before taking root in African nations.
About the Author As president of the True Green Alliance, award-winning author Ron Thomson is leading the charge for this South African initiative. Often referred to as a “living legend” and “one of the greatest wildlife, conservation and hunting writers of our time,” Thomson has a history steeped in wildlife conservation and in fighting against animal rights extremism. With vast African Big-Five hunting experience gained during a colonial period that is long gone, his articles and books continue to draw the respect of hunters and conservationists worldwide. For more information, click here.