06 February 2011 by Julienne du Toit

Humans Do Change

Some people say things never change. I’d like to present an opposing case.

In the 1800s, conservation was understood to be the killing animals in order to stuff them and put them in museums. It led to cretinous behavior - entire species were wiped out in an effort to supply every little self-described ‘museum’ with a sample.

Then in the late 1800s, people were running out of animals to shoot. This raised such concern that a few game reserves were created, including what would one day become Kruger National Park.

The end aim, obviously, was to create a safe breeding sanctuary for antelope in the hopes that their numbers would rise to such an extent that they could once again be shot with gay abandon.

To safeguard the precious antelope, some really weird things went on. The strangest was the killing of predators - including pythons, wild dogs, leopards, lions, cheetahs, owls, eagles, civet cats, genets. This was mostly in the early part of the 1900, carried out by game rangers.

Of course, hunting was THE conservation activity until well into the 1960s. Most of the prestigious private game reserves (eg Londolozi, Sabi Sabi etc) were hunting farms. But then people started wanting to take pictures of animals rather than killing them.

Now the science of conservation has become so refined that wild dogs are managed as part of a ‘meta-population’ in many parks in South Africa. Translocations are no longer brutal but quick and professional.

The salvation of it all, in South Africa, is that the private sector has become involved. They are the ones behind the creation of private reserves, ownership of game, creation of conservation corridors, creation of biospheres and conservancies.

So looking back a span of 150 years, I’d have to say that human behavior can change. It has evolved.

Category: Wildlife

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