Ronald Schmidt, Rice
Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are two of the most precious rights we enjoy in this country. It saddens me when a person can use his title as “Editor” to crucify and pre-convict another person even before legal proceedings have commenced. I am referring to your “opinion” from your Friday, Aug. 7 article in the Sauk Rapids-Rice Newsleader.
If Dr. Palmer is found guilty of a crime, he deserves to be punished severely. Safari Club International, possibly the most influential wildlife conservation organization in the world, has already suspended his membership. His life and the lives of his family members have been threatened and his property damaged or destroyed; again, before any legal proceedings have taken place. Are we in Russia?
Ten days ago the government in Zimbabwe suspended all big-game hunting. You make light of the fact that revenue generated by hunting is used to protect wild game. It’s a fact without revenue generated by trophy fees (which pays game wardens and game scouts), poaching would increase dramatically. I have taken five safaris to Zimbabwe and have seen firsthand what happens when there is no one to enforce the laws put in place to manage big-game population. The Chinese are responsible for organizing most of the poaching rings. Indeed, an esteemed professor at St. Cloud State University was recently apprehended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for his role in transferring illegally killed game hides, organs and elephant ivory out of Africa to various parts of the world where it was sold for large profits. This person had been involved in this illegal activity for years. I don’t seem to recall any outrage expressed by you regarding these highly illegal poaching activities.
I’m beginning to wonder what your background and knowledge in the area of game management is. If you haven’t been to Africa on a hunting or photo safari, you haven’t earned the right to try to influence anyone as to whether or not hunting should be stopped. If you have been to Africa, you must have been blindfolded and had your ears plugged. You stated in your article that 100 years ago, there were 300,000 lions in Africa while today there are 30,000. I don’t know what the human population was back then, but I do know according to the most recent population estimates, there are 1.1 billion people in Africa. Do you think the human beings who lived and died in Africa the last 100 years might have had an effect on the wildlife population? The next time you go to Zimbabwe, please make sure you go to a local market in Harare or Bulawayo and shop around for a little “bush meat.” You can find anything from monkey to elephant, and this illegal killing and sale of meat has been going on a lot longer than 100 years. The percentage of game animals killed legally by licensed, fee-paying hunters as compared to animals killed illegally by poachers and bush meat is miniscule.
Let’s talk about Cecil for a moment. According to another article I read, Cecil was 13.5 years old which is quite old for a male lion. Soon he would have been challenged by or at least been driven away from the pride. Since the lioness does most of the killing for the pride members, Cecil would have either starved to death or more likely been killed by a pack of hyenas when on his own. The new dominant male in the pride would kill the cubs of Cecil to eliminate competition from them in the future. So it goes in Africa.
Fortunately, I read in the St. Cloud Times that Zimbabwe has reinstated all safari hunts effective immediately. Wiser heads have prevailed. If the game laws of Zimbabwe are allowed to be enforced and funded by safari hunting, the future seems brighter. One other thing is certain – the people of Zimbabwe don’t need to be told by you how to manage their game populations.