Hunters seem to be the new bad guys in town, from the looks of how everyone seems to be “outraged” by them, and how some celebrities (I’m looking at you Ricky Gervais) engage in bullying tactics when it comes to hunters. It starts with someone posing next to their “kill” on their Facebook page (let’s forget about how you’re invading their privacy, because, hey, decency is for other people), and then EVERYONE going berserk after Ricky Gervais (or some other hypocrite) points their finger at them. A lot of reasons are cited for this outrage by hypocrites who think bullying is A-okay when it comes to them being the bullies and not the target thereof. I think something should be written about why these people are wrong, and hypocritical.

First off, let’s start by differentiating between ethical hunters and poachers. These people, posing next to their trophy, are engaged in LEGAL and ETHICAL hunting, however much they piss you off for doing that (let’s forget the fact that the only difference between them and you is you have your meat cooked when you pose next to it, and they don’t have any qualms about posing next to it while it still resides in its skin). They’re not poachers; they don’t get up one day, take a rifle and just kill any old animal because it’s lucrative for them to sell the teeth or gonads or penis or whatever the hell people like you want to buy of these animals that keeps poachers in business. Trophy hunters are basically out hunting for, as the name clearly spells it out, trophies. Mostly it has to do with the size of the head (in case of lions and giraffes) or the antlers (in case of big game that has antlers). Now, let’s be clear that meeting the “size” requirements entails that the animal live past a certain age (read: past its prime).

So, how do hunters differ from poachers? Ethical hunters go about seeking a license, which costs a lot of money (in Pakistan, it costs about 50,000 US dollars to get a license to hunt ONE markhor). And where does this money go? Why, to the local community who would then ensure that the habitat isn’t disturbed, that they themselves or other people don’t “encroach” on it, and that there is no poaching. Let’s face it, if you can get 10,000 dollars for one animal, provided it lives to be a certain age, you’d be pretty damn stupid to let someone poach it from your land. There’s more to it: once the locals know that their land is prime hunting land, they also develop infrastructure that is useful for the animals, be it water holes, or planting a certain crop, or even ensuring that certain grasses are always available. All this is possible because the hunter pays a certain fee, which then is used to do all this. Don’t get me wrong, the government does help, but a lot of “gaming” countries are pretty poor, so the government can’t possibly bear the brunt of conservation efforts.

When it comes to ethical hunting, most people would be surprised to know that it’s approved by the WWF as well. This is probably because they know how things work; they’re aware of the ground realities and don’t demonise hunters based on one “trophy hunt picture”. In short, when it comes to ethical hunting, conservationists are pretty much okay with it, and these are people who KNOW about the topic, unlike you morons who sit on your computer and think it’s horrible to watch a person pose next to a dead giraffe (your selfie next to your homemade chicken jalfrezi is calling you a hypocrite, btw).

Also, keep in mind that the hunting license entails that you hunt a specific sized animal of a specific gender, and that you do it within the validity of the license (which is anywhere from 4 to 7 days usually). An ethical hunter goes out in search of the prey. They stalk it, they try to find it, and then they shoot it. It’s not like the animals are in cages and the hunter gets to shoot at one (you know, the way you do with goats and cows and chickens?). Moreover, if the hunter cannot successfully stalk their prey, or if s/he finds one but does not end up managing to “bag the kill”, the license fee is forfeit. A lot of hunters pay the fee, but come back home without a kill because they didn’t manage to find the “right sized” head. So, basically, even an unsuccessful hunter does more for conservation of wildlife than you lot of Facebook warriors.

MOST of the conservation efforts are spearheaded by hunters. They are some of the best informed and most passionate people about wildlife conservation. What’s more, unlike you slacktivists, they get off their behinds and put their money where their mouth is. Some of the best steps taken by the governments of Gilgit-Baltistan and Sindh were initiated at the suggestions of hunters. The population of ibexes and markhors has THRIVED thanks to the introduction of licensed hunting schemes in Pakistan. Unfortunately, as there is little to no money for the “government officials” in it, Punjab has lagged behind, even though the idea originated there.

The whole Ricky Gervais led bullying campaign is nothing short of hypocritical. What exactly have most of these people done for the conservation of wildlife? The hunter, JUST BY BUYING THAT LICENSE, has contributed to it, and shows that s/he cares. But it doesn’t stop there for them. They are engaged with various organizations, in Pakistan and abroad, to preserve natural habitats and to promote habitat management, sound harvest practices, land stewardship and hunter safety, as well as help the locals tackle poaching. The fact that your sensibilities were “hurt” by watching a woman or a man pose next to a dead lion is not worth the s*** of a chicken that you torture by imprisoning it in a small cage, where it lays eggs upon eggs, and then is sent to an even crowdier cage where its feathers fall off and it’s scared especially after watching its brethren being slaughtered in front of it. The fact that you EAT it is beside the point. You still torture it and maim it before you do that, right? A hunter is better than you because s/he ensures a quick kill to the quarry; s/he’s not a sadistic hypocrite like you.

Yes, you heard me, the way I see it, you’re the sadist, NOT the hunter! The hunter has qualms about how s/he comes by the animal s/he hunts. The hunter does not go around caging animals s/he wants to hunt. The hunter gives money to preserve and conserve the natural habitat of the creature s/he hunts, be they migratory birds, ducks, antelope, deer, giraffe or lions. What’s more, unlike you, the hunter is VERY clear about what s/he’s doing: killing. Hunters don’t go down the hypocritical route of eating the flesh of tortured animals at home and then being outraged by the YuLin festival in China, because they eat an animal we consider a pet.

So, as usual, my message is that I am sick of people being complete flaming hypocrites. Unless you turn vegan, or start campaigning for MORE EXPENSIVE BUT BETTER TREATED animal meat (you’d still be a murderer/killer, just like the hunters you want to demonise), or give thousands of dollars to the conservation effort, just shut up! Hunters are awesome people, and you’re a moron who knows nothing. Feel free to take Lincoln’s advice when he said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.”