Ok - I appreciate the sensitivities of various members here on the subject of big game hunting, so I want to state at the outset that this is not intended to be a provocative, pot-stirring question. On the contrary, I really am interested in understanding the situation as regards African hunting for big / dangerous game because I think my own perception is rather polarised by what I read in various sections of the media and what I see on hunting forums.
My question is hard to put into a single phrase, but is to try an understand how the management of wildlife and hunting go hand in hand in Africa and I'd be grateful to hear other members' experiences on the subject.
I should say at this point that I have no intention of going hunting in Africa and no interest in it at all, really, beyond trying to gain a clearer picture of the way in which European hunters are able to visit to hunt.
On the one side, I read in the newspapers and on the web about the "terrible" problems with poachers killing all manner of species for their bits and pieces, usually in relation to the smuggling trade that supports the practice of Chinese traditional medicine.
On the other side, I see advertised in the Deer journal of the BDS, trips to Africa for safari hunts up to and including the pursuit of bull elephants and big cats, advertised for somewhat substantial sums, but presumably legally, since the journal prints them in the first place.
Can someone help me to understand how these points of view can be reconciled?
In this country, we cull individual deer for the benefit of the species (as well as to eat, use as trophies, etc.) - fair enough. Is this also the case in Africa? Do they have cull plans for bull Elephants (for example) within the reserves and national parks and is it the opportunity to participate in the culling which is advertised to European hunters in the shooting magazines?
Or is it the case that what are referred to in the media as "poachers" might easily be foreign hunters who happen to have booked a trip with the "wrong" safari organisers? Is it easy to discern who are the "legal" groups offering such hunting and who are those who are not?
Again - I'm not trying to be provocative, but at the moment I can't square the circle between seemingly above-board advertised elephant hunts on the one hand and park rangers complaining of poaching on the other. We manage deer by culling in this country and I'm all in favour of that (and particularly of eating them) but I don't know what arrangements exist in Africa, so I can't draw any conclusion about whether there's a "moderate" view point in the middle, simillar to ours with deer, which allows both managed hunting and continued protection of the species.
I will appreciate any insights members here can offer - I'm not interested in moralizing, only in finding out what structures and arrangements exist for hunters and for conservation.