Wildlife hunting is complicated

Most people I know that are not in majors related to animals, have no idea how close we are to losing the rhino, anything at all about poaching, and the illegal wildlife trade and how people live in third world countries.

Back to News

Published: Tuesday, 29 Nov 2022 Author: Andrea Paul

Andrea wearing a Spartan shirt standing in front of 3 rhinos in South AfricaMy study abroad program to South Africa taught me so much more than I ever learn from a book or a class on campus.

Some of my perceptions of South Africa held true, while others were challenged. This program expanded my knowledge of issues on conservation and impressed new ideas upon me.

One of the big topics we talked about on our program was the controversy over wildlife hunting. We had debated the topic in my class last spring and learned how it can bring funding for conservation, but how it came with some doubts. I wasn’t one to take a particular stance on the issue because it is so complicated, but this program has me leaning to one side now. There were three points that I learned that changed my perspective on wildlife hunting: The smaller impact it has on the ecosystem compared to tourism, the significant funding it brings compared to tourism and that it is sometimes a more humane way of putting an animal out of its misery. In an ideal world I would prefer no killing of animals at all, but in a realistic world, wildlife hunting is one of the best options at conserving the landscape and the wildlife within it.

I learned from my spring semester class on conservation policy Andrea crouched down next to captured rhinothat Asian countries are the main funder for illegal poaching and wildlife trade. In that class we mostly talked about elephant ivory, and I was under the impression that that was the main animal of concern. After taking this program, I learned that it is actually the rhino that is the main animal of concern. In fact, elephants in Kruger National Park are doing so well that they are overpopulating the area, destroying the habitat, and endangering other species. At first, I really didn’t understand the depth to which elephants can change the landscape, but after seeing the damage and seeing the huge amounts of elephants in the area, I understand. I have never heard of elephant culling before this program and if I had, I would have definitely been immediately against it. But just like wildlife hunting, the issue is not black and white. It’s so complicated and intertwined with borders, resources, and other species.

I wish everyone had the opportunity to participate in this program because on the other side of the world, we are influencing and pressuring countries like South Africa on how to make decisions about their resources without understanding any of it. I think South Africa is an awesome place because it is one of the last places on Earth with the megafauna that used to roam the planet. Most people I know that are not in Andrea with game warden at park in South Africamajors related to animals, have no idea how close we are to losing the rhino, anything at all about poaching and the illegal wildlife trade and how people live in third world countries. This program opened my eyes to a lot of new things and I am never, ever going to forget it.

Name: Andrea Paul
Status: Senior
Major: Fisheries and Wildlife; Minor: Environmental Studies and Sustainability Studies
Hometown: Okemos, Michigan
Program: Sustaining South African Wildlife: Cash, Crime, Conflicts and Conservation