A renowned African wildlife photographer is perhaps the last person you’d suspect to be in favour of hunting wild animals.
But 2013 BBC World Wildlife Photographer of the Year Greg du Toit has spoken out about his belief that hunting can be a “very pragmatic solution”.
“Hunting in general has, up to this point, been very beneficial in that wildlife areas have expanded,” du Toit told Love Wild Africa.
The South African said that, in some cases, hunting is agreeable: “In Timbavati Game Reserve they hunt old buffalo bulls”.
“Now, those buffalo bulls are no longer breeding so a hunt is set up, and that money is then ploughed back into conservation; ploughed back into running the reserve. I think that’s excellent.”
But du Toit also said that he is vehemently against the hunting of territorial animals, especially wild cats.
“If you shoot one of the cats,” he said, “it creates a vacuum, and that vacuum then pulls in another cat from the conserved area or from the park, and that cat gets shot.
“Eventually what happens is the population is decimated, so I’m dead against the hunting of leopards and lions especially.”
The photographer, who has been snapping outstanding wildlife photographs in Africa for almost two decades, acknowledged that most people are against hunting but argued that a balanced, natural ecology in which hunting takes place is a better alternative to a “monoculture” field of wheat crop.
“If you go out to a restaurant and you order venison steak, you know that where that resource is coming from, there is a functioning ecosystem that has to support that animal if it’s to survive,” he said.
“Which would you rather have? A wildlife area that has hunting and whose habitat is protected, or a wheat field that has no natural ecology whatsoever?”