Monday, August 3, 2015

in defense of Sabrina Corgatelli

A woman named Sabrina Corgatelli seems to have made the social media news as some kind of a pariah.

She's in Africa now hunting animals and is brassy enough to post pictures on her Facebook page during the midst of the Amazing Cecil the Lion media frenzy. For this at this time I question her sanity. Her timing sucks. 

I don't know this woman and have never even heard of her until a few hours ago but for some reason I feel a desire to defend her actions to some degree.

Personally over the years I've killed a few deer to put meat on the table along with pheasants, a few ducks and a few rabbits. I like game for the most part. It's a good, clean source of meat. I haven't hunted in a few years and get my venison from the generosity of other hunters. I'm grateful for when I get it.

I've also dispatched a couple of sick animals and removed a number of nuisance animals. None of the killing ever brought me any joy. The joy generally came at the dinner table.

I do admit that I like long walks in the fall in the pursuit of pheasants, though. I enjoy the crisp air of fall and simply being outdoors.

I have no desire to go to Africa and shoot any game animals there. If I were to go on a safari I would likely pack a camera instead of a gun.

But that's me.

Let's take a look at what Sabrina is doing over there. She's hunting. So what.

From what I can see she's found a reputable professional hunter (PH) as a guide. She has all the required permits and licenses. She is in no violation of law that I am aware of.

She is actually bringing no mean sum of money into South Africa and creating a number of jobs for the locals on top of providing them with a lot of meat. 

I doubt that little if any of the animals she kills will go to waste. The locals will likely scarf up just about all of the animal that she doesn't take home with her.

The costly fees and permits will likely go toward game management to insure that there will be animals for future hunters to harvest. South Africa is actually smart about game management. They know that hunting brings in big money and do their best to manage the herds.

Permits in South Africa are issued on a basis that will sustain the herd.

Most people do not realize that hunting safaris and photo hunts are what give those animals any value. Without the income they provide the animals, for the most part, would be considered nuisances and pests and would have likely been eradicated years ago.

Back here in the States I listened to a woman that had moved to Florida babble about waking up to find an alligator on her lawn. She flipped and called the police that called whoever the police call to remove alligators from residences.

She made it pretty clear to me that she didn't care how it was removed. Had someone shot it and tossed it in the back of a truck and taken it to the dump that was just fine by her. 

Part of the reason I remember this so clearly is that it was getting close to Earth Day and she asked me what I was doing to save the planet. Go figure.

Once I was doing some work at someone's house and a stray pit bull wandered into the yard. The woman told me she wanted it gone. I was a tad confused. "Do you want me to shoot it or what?" I asked.

"I don't care!" she screamed. "I want it gone!"

I didn't shoot the poor old dog. I simply went out and chased it away.

The bottom line to both of these is that when push came to shove neither of these women really give a damn about the animals.

A lot of big game animals are nothing but nuisances and pests to local Africans. Many herbivores eat their crops and the carnivores tear up their domestic herds.

If you were a farmer and some eland ate up your crop that you were depending on to feed your family you'd want the eland gone, too. If a lion tore up some of the goats you had been raising you would tend to hold a pretty dim view of letting him return for seconds.

In both cases the farmer would likely poison, snare or shoot the animal. I can't say as I'd blame him. I'd likely go after the animal that was harming my livelihood.

In short, a lot of those animals are a detriment to African life. A lot of villagers probably want them gone.

Not to mention that many of them are downright dangerous. Hippos kill about 500 people a year. Rhinos are not very gentle, either.

Now let's enter the murky world of poaching for ivory and rhino horn, both of which have a demand in the world.

Couple the aggravation the animals cause with the demand for ivory and rhino horn and it's pretty sure fire that someone is going to try and supply the demand. 

Throw poverty into the equation and it's a miracle there are any elephants or rhinos left at all.

I know a dairy farmer that hires a local guy to keep his field clear of ground hogs. They dig holes and if an expensive dairy cow steps in one there is a pretty good chance Old Bossy will wind up with a broken leg.

Can't say as I blame him. Good cows are expensive and hard to replace. I'd probably do the same damned thing. He simply wanted all of the ground hogs eradicated.

He's checked in as someone that was against big game hunting, which is odd for a farmer.

Then I asked him if he'd eradicate them or manage the ground hog herd if there was someone willing to pay HIM $10,000 apiece for the right to shoot them.

He didn't answer me but I know what he was thinking.

Enter the hunter that comes into the host country with a big wad of cash and hires a PH who in return puts together the safari and hires local to perform the required chores.

A good chunk of that money goes to the host country government in the form of trophy fees, licenses and so on giving what is generally a poor government some money to hire game wardens, anti- poaching patrols and the like.

These people are the ones that give those animals a value. They are the ones that give the governments a reason to manage the herds and insure sustainability.

A while back Kenya, a former mecca for hunters, outlawed trophy hunting. Ever since they did that their herds have been in a serious state of decline.

People are quick to point to eco tourists that photograph the animals. Truth is eco tourists generally stay in cities and make day trips on guided tours to nearby parks. They don't require the services of PHs and the various other locals that provide services to hunters.

I've read where the average hunter brings in 50 to 100 times the money the average eco tourist does. Eco tourists don't pay any trophy or licensing fees and simply don't spend the money that the hunters do.

It's the hunters that bring in the big money.

Frankly, I'd love to know what Sabrina is paying for her hunt. It ain't cheap. I sure couldn't afford it even if I wanted to hunt in Africa.

Truth is, like it or not, that she's probably part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

As for her detractors, I seriously wonder about them. None of them seem to understand game management. Most of them are sitting on their wallets instead of opening them up and donating a single dime to game management anywhere.

I know that in the States a lot of the states rely only on the revenue that comes in from hunting and fishing licenses and associated fees to manage the animal herds in the state. 

This means that the herds and fisheries are managed and sustained only with money paid in by hunters and fishermen. The guy that doesn't hunt or fish pays little if anything toward managing the wildlife of his home state.

If you want to do something for conservation then simply buy a hunting or fishing license. You don't have to use the license, just buy one. In most states he money will go to the state's conservation efforts.

Many hunters also put their money where their mouth is by joining conservation organizations. One organization, Ducks Unlimited, has done an awful lot in helping maintain the flocks of ducks in the States.

There are others that have done a lot to preserve wildlife, too.

This likely means that a lot of Sabrina's detractors don't have dime one invested in the fish or wildlife of their home state, much less having something invested in African wildlife. They're just running off at the keyboards.

Many of her detractors would likely act like the woman that found an alligator on her front yard or the mother that spotted a stray dog out front. They'd simply want it gone and not care how it was removed.

I wrote earlier that hippos kill over 500 people a year. I wonder how many of Sabrina's detractors would act if they heard that a government was going to kill off a few in the interest of public safety.

Many of you would defend the hippos. "Hippos gotta be hippos" you'd say.

Yet if you were visiting the zoo and someone threw one of your kids into a cage of hungry tigers it would he a different case altogether. I don't think you'd accept an explanation of "tigers gotta be tigers".

I don't know who this Sabrina is and I really don't care. All I can figure is she is living a dream now in Africa and paying for it. She's not poaching or doing anything illegal.

Yet I see a bunch of rabid people wishing death and destruction on her and calling her a bunch of pretty rotten names.

To those that are calling her names and wishing her an early demise, you ought to take a better look at yourself. You look a lot worse as people than the person you are calling out.

How about before you hit 'enter' you take a few minutes to think about yourself and your purity. What have you done to assist in conservation efforts? What other skeletons are sitting in your closet? Think about what you have written before you post it.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY