Many times I have been posed the question; “What is a hunter, and why do they hunt?”
On the last page of our NAPHA brochure there is an advertisement placed for a vacant post. The job description reads as follows;
Young active person interested in low and infrequent pay to play Bwana in remote bush-veld. Must be proven raconteur and socialite without liver trouble, expert card player, bartender, caterer, barbecuer, philosopher and African historian. Experience in sanitary engineering, local architecture, labor relations, navigation, medicine and pharmacology, botany, zoology, ichthyology, mineralogy, entomology, butchery, taxidermy, dietetics, optics, photography and radio operation essential. Applicants should speak at least two native African languages fluently as well as English and one other modern European tongue. A solid knowledge of mechanics, driving, gunsmithing, toxicology, ballistics, tracking, marksmanship, hand loading and experience as a professional bodyguard are required. Benefits are – twenty-four hour day, unlimited fresh air, including rain, sun and dust, no medical, dental or life insurance and no retirement benefits. Applicant should supply his own rifles.
This is a beautiful description written by Peter Hathaway Capstick, and strikes at the heart of every hunter. It was written at a time when hunters still needn’t be careful of expressing what profession they are in, and before hunters were smeared and earmarked as “scum” and “lowlifes”.
People say life is not that complicated, but life is very complicated. What’s simple is wanting an ice cream, a doll, or to win a game of tennis. Simple is sitting at the back of a well-shaded game viewer with cold drinks in the back, remarking how beautiful Namibia is, all the while hoping for the chance to see a predator make a kill. Simple is wanting to make a difference and play a part in conservation with all your heart, but just talking about it.
Life becomes complicated when you are a hunter. Hunting, after all, is a necessarily bloody business. It reminds us that we kill in order to live; that we live by virtue of the deaths of other beings, sentient and non-sentient. It becomes complicated because it seems that a large part of the public perceives hunters as “murderers” and “killers”.
Before I went to university my father greatly impressed on me the following:: He said, “Danene, whatever you think success means, I hope you’ll stay open to the possibility that you have got it all wrong. That you have absolutely no idea what life has got in store for you. My child, You WILL make mistakes. You are NOT perfect. You WILL fail. And when that day comes, and you figure it out, I know that you’ll have the brains, the guts, and the straight up good luck to survive it…Only different people change the world…No one normal has ever changed a damned thing”.
After a tragic loss in our family recently, I again realized that we have a limited number of opportunities to love someone, to do your work, to make a difference, and to change the world.
Hunters will change the world. The HUAP trust is more than an idea, an aesthetic. We hunters are a philosophy, a collective, with a professional code of honor and ethics. It is based on the principle that we bring our best, everything we have, every day, but especially on this night, to remind us of everything we have, including our beautiful wildlife. I would like to go so far as to say that this event is beautifully symbolized this year by the magnificent and striking MARBLE RHINO, so very generously arranged by Mr Jürgen Rumpf, and crafted with passion and zeal by Mr. Gé Pellini.
But with hunting comes huge responsibilities.
In philosophy, moral responsibility is the status of morally deserving praise, blame, reward, or punishment for an act or omission, in accordance with one’s moral obligations. Deciding what (if anything) counts as “morally obligatory” is a principal concern of ethics.
Now, more than ever, we as hunters need the support and praise of our fellow Namibians and nature lovers alike to accept and appreciate the function and role that hunters play in conservation. To make a stance for the rightful role of hunting within a natural environment. Responsibility means, in essence, that we must ultimately provide answers to questions that our loved ones, our neighbours, and our country ask of us.
We cannot afford any failures by the hunting industry. There are no grey zones when it comes to conservation hunting, and NAPHA strives to educate our members in their moral responsibilities but also reprimand anyone who fails to share in the ethos of ethical and responsible hunting.
We as hunters should not fear to be just that, hunters. Fear is a poverty of Truth, and Truth culminates in Faith. Faith is in everything, in every minute of life, even in sleep. Faith in family and friends: faith that others will stop at the red light, faith in the teachers who guard our children for hours every day, faith in our government and police and anti-poaching efforts, and faith that Nature heals us, as Nature does, when we let it.
We are here tonight to, as a direct action, raise money for anti-poaching efforts. By being here tonight and raising your hand, you literally play your part in changing the world, and by instating faith in what we hunters contribute towards conservation, and therefore also help to safeguard our special way of life.
There are two very significant funds which will also gain through tonight’s auction, The Rebeus Fund and the NAPHA leopard project.
The Rebeus Fund was initiated by NAPHA to help compensate the Namibian Tracker Rebeus, who was seriously injured by a gunshot wound during a leopard follow-up. The mission of this fund is to provide financial assistance to Professional Hunters, Hunting Assistants, Trackers, Drivers and Skinners who are injured during the course of their duties, and is in place for similar accidents.
The leopard project was initiated by NAPHA because we have realized the critical importance of conducting a comprehensive, independent and non-partisan study of one of our most valuable natural resources, the African Leopard, in order to ensure the continued survival of this species in Namibia, and to follow the objectives as set out in our project proposal. This is an extremely important issue and we encourage you to make a contribution to this fund by any means possible.
With the firm support of our Ministry of Environment and Tourism, NAPHA is confident that this study will be instrumental in assuring a great future for Panthera Pardus in Namibia and will underline even more the importance of hunting’s role by contributing to the conservation of living space for wild animals.
I would like to thank the NAPHA Big Game Committee for the HUAP auction evening initiative. Here I have to call attention to one person specifically. I believe that shortcuts are for lazy people and crooks. To achieve success you must be brave, have courage, be committed, have integrity and most importantly, have vision. Falko Schwartz is just this person. Falko, everyone appreciates your extreme dedication and hard work for this great initiative.
Finally, I would like to thank our Namibian government who endures a healthy way of thinking, who treasures our country’s natural resources, who is always prepared to listen to different stakeholders, and who understands and promotes sustainability.
Most importantly I want to thank our heavenly Father for being born in Africa and therefore having the mandate to help protect her, but also for showing us the important lessons in life through our children, who hold the future in their hands.