Yes, Hotshot Harry Can Be A Hunter and a Conservationist, Too
Posted by Richard Conniff on February 17, 2014
Britain’s Prince Harry continues to take heavy flak for being simultaneously a hunter and a conservationist, with the appearance in today’s Daily Mail of the above photograph. It’s 10 years old, and shows “Crackshot Harry, The Buffalo Killer” in Argentina, smiling over the carcass of a water buffalo, not exactly an endangered species.
Harry has been taking a public relations hit since going out earlier this month on a boar hunt in Spain with his brother William, immediately prior to making a public pledge to fight against the illegal trade in ivory, rhino horn, tiger parts and other endangered animals.
My Irish and American family background means I am no great fan of royalty, and I should probably welcome the endlessly clumsy, tone-deaf behavior by the British Royals. It makes a better case for republicanism than any Fenian or Federalist ever did. (And it’s so much more entertaining.) But that said, a legal hunt for water buffalo or boar is no threat to species or populations. It bolsters support for wildlife by bringing money into rural communities. That’s the exact opposite of driving species to extinction and stealing community resources by poaching ivory, rhino horn, tiger parts, and so on.
Harry is right to take a stand against the ivory and rhino horn trades. Attacking him for being a hunter just takes the focus off the genuine threat from illegal wildlife trafficking. It’s a way for us to indulge a warm sense of righteous outrage without actually doing anything whatsoever to help wildlife.