Opinion / Zhu Ping

What's the best way to protect wildlife?

By Zhu Ping (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2014-08-13 10:19

Killing animals for animals' good. Not many will buy the explanation given by Nature Conservancy to defend Chinese e-commerce tycoon Jack Ma's hunting spree in Britain. Ma, who is also a director on the board of the animal protection group, hunted 11 stags in Britain two years ago. In a recent report on Chinese nouveaux riches, The Sunday Times describes their newfound "wild" hobbies and says that Ma and his 11 traveling companies spent £36,000 pounds to rent a castle and hire a helicopter for their hunting trip.

The hunting story has all the elements of an extravagant potboiler. It describes the naked display of wealth by China's nouveaux riches both at home and abroad, their luxurious lifestyle that is in sharp contrast to the poverty that many people live in, the pleasure they derive from "slaughtering" innocent wild animals and the bad reputation they have earned.

Ma has admitted on his online page that the trip was "quite expensive" but insists that he did so for "environmental protection".

It's lot easier for people to lambast rich people taking part in even controlled hunting than to agree on the best way to protect wildlife. Ma's case once again brought to the fore the controversy surrounding hunting.

These are not the times of hunter-gatherers; very few people across the world hunt for food and fur. By the 19th century hunting had become a fun sport and led to the slaughtering of millions of animals and birds, from Africa and Asia to the New World. And although hunting may become more of a fun sport, it remains controversial. In fact, some animal rights activists believe modern-day hunting is nothing but killing.

But some researchers consider regulated hunting an efficient way of managing wildlife populations, saying it could facilitate the recovery of the ecosystem and help the growth in the numbers of wild animals. Legal hunting, which they say is easier to be regulated, could curb poaching that could affect the sex, birth and mortality rates of wildlife populations.

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