Saturday, August 29, 2020

Cracked and Spineless


No, I'm not talking about myself, though I might as well be. This is is the name of a great new bookshop I discovered recently.  In fact, I discovered a whole new old arcade, which isn’t bad after thirty years in the same smallish city.  If you’ve ever watched Black Books, then you’ll know the kind of bookshop I mean, except that this one is perhaps a bit more customer friendly and hygienic than said establishment.  Eclectic is an overused word, let’s just say there are books and oddities of every description – new and used, piled high in every direction.


Did I mention that I loved the smell of bookshops? It must be in the blood

Their blurb says they specialise in Sci Fi, Fantasy, Horror, Tasmaniana, Philosophy, Classics, Popular Culture and the unusual, so I suppose that covers everything, except perhaps the stuffed crow that sits above the horror section. They will also source out -of -print books for you. The Imperial Arcade, off Collins Street and opposite the Cat and Fiddle, is a treasure in itself. It’s good to see the coffee shops buzzing again and there is an Asian restaurant and a Nepali restaurant there as well which I'm hoping to explore further soon.  


Hobart does have a number of other interesting bookshops, though I‘m not sure if all of them are operating at present due to COVID and the absence of tourists. Fullers, just up the road on the corner of Victoria Street certainly is. Established in the 1920’s, it’s Hobart’s oldest bookshop, though it has moved once or twice.  It specialises in home grown literature and as well as having all the latest books it also has its own café. Renown antiquarian bookshop Astrolabe, late of Salamanca Place, has now moved into Scotty’s Antiques on Argyle Street. It specialises in maritime, Antarctica, Australian and Tasmanian books and all its stock can be found online.  Others in the area include Déjà Vu Books in Salamanca Place, The Hobart Bookshop – new and second hand, on Salamanca Square and just up the hill in Battery Point on the corner of Montpelier Retreat and Hampton Road, there’s Kookaburra BooksA stroll up Elizabeth Street will reward you with a fine haul of second hand books and if Sci Fi is your thing, check out Area 52 which also has games and comics. I'll also add in Voyager here though it seems to exist online only, because it specialises in early maps and Tasmanian prints. There are probably lots of other interesting bookshops.These are just some of the ones I have enjoyed over the years. Feel free to add to the list!

Happy browsing and happy reading and don't forget to maintain social distancing. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Trophy hunting – can it really be justified by 'conservation benefits'?

        Cecil the lion, before he was a trophy.

Killing animals for fun is an activity which divides opinion. It can also be a highly emotive issue, with high profile cases like the death of Cecil the lion sparking global media coverage and outcry. There were even calls for the American dentist who admitted killing Cecil to be charged with illegal hunting.

But despite the strong feelings it occasionally provokes, many people may be unaware just how common trophy hunting is. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) reports that between 2004 and 2014, a total of 107 countries participated in the trophy hunting business. In that time, it is thought over 200,000 hunting trophies from threatened species were traded (plus a further 1.7m from non-threatened animals).

Trophy hunters themselves pay vast sums of money to do what they do (IFAW claims upwards of $US100,000 for a 21-day big game hunting trip). But reliable data on the economic benefits this brings to the countries visited remains limited and contested.

Now the UK government has announced it is considering banning the trade of hunting trophies from endangered species – making it a crime to bring them back into the country.

Advocates of trophy hunting – including major conservation organisations such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the World Wide Fund for Nature – argue that hunting wild animals can have major ecological benefits. Along with some governments, they claim that “well-managed” trophy hunting is an effective conservation tool, which can also help local communities.

This argument depends in part on the generation of significant income from the trophy hunters, which, it is claimed, can then be reinvested into conservation activities. 

The broad idea is that a few (often endangered) animals are sacrificed for the greater good of species survival and biodiversity. Local human communities also benefit financially from protecting animal populations (rather than seeing them as a threat) and may reap the rewards of employment by hunting operations, providing lodgings or selling goods.

Indeed, research on trophy hunting does show that it can produce substantial financial benefits, is likely to be supported by local communities, and can be associated with conservation gains.

But it remains unclear in exactly what circumstances trophy hunting produces a valuable conservation benefit. We cannot assume a scheme that works in one country, targeting one species, under a specific set of circumstances, is applicable to all other species and locations.

Also, the purported benefits of trophy hunting rely on sustainable management, investment of profits, and local community involvement. But given the levels of perceived corruption and lack of effective governance in some of the countries where trophy hunting is carried out, one wonders how likely it is these conditions can be met.

And if trophy hunting is really so lucrative, there is every chance the profits will instead be used to line the pockets of rich (possibly foreign) operators and officials.

Death and suffering

This brings us to the question of ethics. Just because an intervention has the potential to produce a social benefit, does not mean the approach is ethical. And if it is not ethical, should it be considered a crime?

This is something of regular concern for social policy. If the evil that a programme introduces is greater than the evil it purports to reduce, then it is unethical to implement it.

I would argue that even if convincing evidence does exist that trophy hunting can produce conservation benefits, it is unethical to cause the death and suffering of individual animals to save a species.

In common with many green criminologists, I take a critical approach to the study of environmental and animal-related crime. This means that I am interested in behaviour that can be thought of as harmful, and may be worthy of the label “crime”, even if it has not been formally criminalised.

When considering global harms and those that impact heavily on the most powerless in society, this approach is particularly important.

Conservation is concerned with biodiversity and animal populations. Contrast this with an animal rights or species justice perspective, where instead of focusing on rights that benefit humans over all other species, the interests and intrinsic rights of individual and groups of animals are considered.

From this viewpoint, trophy hunting undoubtedly causes harm. It brings pain, fear, suffering and death. Add to this the grief, mourning and fracturing of familial or social groups that is experienced by animals such as elephants, whales, primates and giraffes. In light of these harms, trophy hunting is surely worthy of the label “crime”.

Allowing trophy hunting also perpetuates the notion that animals are lesser than humans. It turns wildlife into a commodity, rather than living, feeling, autonomous beings – beings that I have argued should be viewed as victims of crime.

Anthropocentric views also facilitate and normalise the exploitation, death and mistreatment of animals. The harmful effects can be seen in intensive farming, marine parks and “canned hunting”, where (usually lions) are bred in captivity (and sometimes drugged) as part of trophy hunting operations. Where money can be made from animals, exploitation, and wildlife crime, seem likely to follow.

Instead, local communities must be involved in decisions about conservation and land management, but not at the expense of endangered species, or of individual animals hunted for sport. Alternative conservation approaches like photo tourism, and schemes to reduce human-animal conflict must be embraced.

              Getting a good shot.
              Shutterstock/Villiers Steyn

Banning trophy hunting would provide a much needed incentive to develop creative conservation approaches to wildlife protection and human-animal co-existence. And there is still substantial conservation income to be earned without resorting to trophy hunting.

So governments around the world should introduce bans on trophy imports – alongside providing support for alternative, ethical developments that benefit both wild animals and local communities. Anything less is complicit support of a crime against some of the world’s most vulnerable wildlife.

Melanie Flynn, Senior lecturer in Criminology, University of Huddersfield

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

More on Trophy Hunting

Coincidentally the subject of “canned hunting” featured on television here this week, with Louis Theroux’s “African Hunting Holiday”outlining some of the pros and cons.  If the full video doesn’t work where you are, link to it directly at Daily Motion by clicking here.

Melanie Flynn’s article for The Conversation follows next

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Animal Cruelty 3- Is it time for the Great White Hunter to become extinct?

Take photos, not trophies
 Image by TeeFarm from Pixabay

The tide is also turning against the Great White Hunter. Trophy hunting has been banned in Costa Rica, Kenya and Malawi and leopards may no longer be hunted in South Africa. True there are some forms of hunting which may still be necessary – for food, for protection against predators, getting rid of introduced pests and so forth, so I won’t quarrel with those for the moment, though it would be good to see more humane ways of dealing with such issues too – for example, birth control is being proposed for our wild horses (brumbies) rather than having to cull them in our highlands where large numbers may damage fragile lands. One should also consider that one reason why species are becoming ‘pests’ in some areas is because humans have encroached on more and more of their habitat.

However, as many species are in decline globally, there are strong ethical reasons to reconsider our relationship with wild animals and to desist from killing for fun and profit, as outlined in the next post by Melanie Flynn, especially as many of the economic and conservation arguments being put forward by hunters do not stack up. 

The reliability of the data used to justify such activities is questionable. With rare exceptions, hunting safaris as conducted in much of Africa, do not necessarily produce the desired rewards for communities unless well managed to ensure that funds do go back to communities, towards genuine conservation and ensuring that quotas are adhered to. In Tanzania for example, 40% of hunting grounds were depleted of animals and legitimisation of ‘canned,’ hunting i.e. on game ranches and the like, and export of trophies in South Africa, have encouraged poaching of wild lions leaving only 200,000 in the entire continent. Trophy hunting is also believed to be behind the ‘silent decline’ of giraffes. 

According to a 2019 article in the New York Times much of the money goes towards private operators or the pockets of corrupt governments, while local people are effectively marginalised. In the end tourism for wildlife viewing and photography brings in far more than trophy hunting does. This applies as much to domestic wildlife as it does to that in more remote locations.

As for trophy hunting being good for the species, as some hunters claim, the opposite is true.  By taking the largest and best specimens out of the gene pool, the species becomes weaker and often less prolific.  By way of example, animal welfare organisation Peta reports that the horn lengths of Canada’s bighorn sheep declined by 25% over the past 40 years due to hunting pressures, but the genetic impact on species most likely runs much deeper, especially under conditions of climate change.

While we should not dictate to other countries about what they should and should not do with their wildlife, we can discourage the import of trophies into our own countries and reject the glorification of killing on social media. I'm not sure how to do this. At least one Norwegian firm has terminated one of its executives after publicity over his involvement in a trophy hunt. Several other countries including the Netherlands, Australia and the UK are also seeking to introduce bans.    

See the Peta pages or The Humane Society of the USA pages for other actions you could take if you want to help stop this cruel and completely unnecessary activity.