Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bob Irwin Takes A Bite-Sized Bite Over Plan to Shoot Crocs

Bob Irwin Takes A Bite-Sized Bite Over Plan to Shoot Crocs 

Australia May Allow Crocodile Hunting Safaris in Northern Territory 

Let's Make a Killing, It'll Be Good for the Crocs 

Crocs in the Crosshairs 

Australia Mulls Crocodile Safari Hunts 

Territory Renews Push for Safari Crocodile Hunts 

Australia Considers Crocodile Hunting Safaris in Northern Territory 

Croc Safaris "Back on Agenda" 

It disgusts me that the Australian Government is considering allowing Crocodile hunting in the Northern Territory.  I've just written this letter to Tony Burke - Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water Population and Communities.  I would urge you to do the same.  His address is:  tony.burke.mp@aph.gov.au.

Tony Burke
Minister for Sustainable Population, Communities, Environment and Water, Canberra

Dear Mr Burke,
The issue of trophy hunting of crocodiles has once again been raised.  The apparent increase in croc numbers in the NT and spate of attacks on people are provided as justifications for allowing “safari-style” hunting of crocodiles.  Just to make the notion even more socially and politically palatable, a program that focuses on Indigenous participation and employment has been proposed. Who’s going to knock that – a lucrative, sustainable eco-venture that supports our indigenous compatriots?  But let’s get the issue into its proper context before we go any further. 
Trophy hunting is not going to stop unfortunate souls from getting killed by crocs – preventing that requires better education and awareness campaigns.  Neither will it be the economic salvation of local indigenous communities; the opportunities for less violent forms of ecotourism are far more lucrative.  This type of hunting is going to appeal to the type of folk (a small, rich and vocal minority) who get their kicks out of shooting other large and potentially dangerous wildlife, like rhinos, elephants and lions; great white hunters who often justify their blood-sport by arguing that they contribute to the conservation of the magnificent animals that they blow away. 
Now as far as the animal welfare considerations are concerned, crocs have a brain smaller than my pinkie finger, and I’m not a big bloke!  Imagine trying to hit that on a moving target submerged in water, encased in a big solid bone skull, and you get what I’m saying: there are going to be a lot of maimed crocodiles dying slow deaths if trophy hunting gets the green light.  There’s nothing humane about trophy hunting, particularly for animals like crocs.
In addition to the cruelty inflicted upon the target animal, taking an alpha croc out of the ecosystem significantly changes the population dynamics.  The big old boys control their river systems, keeping order amongst the smaller younger crocs.  When these animals are hunted and removed, anarchy breaks lose as the younger crocs aim to elevate their status in the hierarchy.  The younger crocs act just like teenagers playing up when there's a lack of authority, and in my opinion this disorder poses a considerable risk of increased attacks upon humans, with the youngsters pushing boundaries and testing their predation abilities.
In my mind, the question of whether trophy hunting of crocodiles should be allowed is a question of morality.  For me, it’s just not right to hunt and kill something for fun or greed. I thought in this country we had made enough moral progress to have put that one to bed years ago.  But here it is again, rearing its ugly head, under the guise of “sustainability” and helping indigenous communities, to boot. Too often now, the proponents of “sustainable wildlife use” seem to think that if they can argue that an activity is ecologically sustainable, then any ethical or moral concerns are irrelevant or redundant.  Developing an ecotourism venture with indigenous folk as the guides and beneficiaries is a great idea, but let the shooting be done with cameras, not guns.  Then it’s humane, sustainable and morally right, and I reckon will make a lot more money than the small, loud, safari hunting elite would ever have brought us.
I believe that if crocodile trophy hunting were to proceed it would have a very negative impact on Australia’s lucrative Tourism Industry and severely damage Australia’s image world wide as a friendly, caring country.
I would have thought that in our modern world where there is increased pressure on our wildlife to avoid extinction, that every decent human would find this proposal abhorrent.
Bob Irwin

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