About Big Four hunting
Once upon a time there was the Big Five, a list of the most dangerous and desirable game animals in Africa: Rhino, Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Buffalo. The march of civilization - commercial hunting for ivory and rhino horn, culls in the name of disease prevention, “extermination of predators” that threatened the lives of humans and livestock, poaching, or simply killing to make way for cow and plow - reduced the range and numbers of these magnificent beasts. Many populations of the rhino, for instance, went down as their preferred habitat was destroyed to get rid of the tsetse fly. Now, for all practical purposes, there’s no such thing as free-range rhino hunting, and for hunters who are not satisfied with darting and hunting on game farms the “Big Five” is down to “Big Four”. Fortunately, Africa is an enormous continent, and while overall numbers may decrease, some populations can be thriving and even overpopulated to the degree where they are a threat to their own environment. Hunting opportunities for “The Big Four” exist in many African countries, including Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique, Cameroon and Burkina Faso. Hunting is strictly limited by a system of harvest quotas and international agreements that prevent import of the trophies of certain species from countries where it is believed hunting may not always be carried out in a responsible manner. Most experts recommend to start with the more numerous species like buffalo and leopard, and then move on to lion and elephant, but it all comes down to personal preferences and abilities. Why hunt the Big Four today? One of the reasons is that these animals are uncomfortable neighbors: a raid of marauding elephants, for instance, can destroy the whole harvest of a small farm overnight. This is a great motivation for the local communities to get rid of these species by poison and snare. Well-managed and regulated sports hunting provides profit sharing, job creation, and infrastructure improvement that are powerful incentives for peaceful coexistence. One thing that all members of the Big Four have in common is the emotional load. The ivory and intelligence of the elephant, the menacing look and bulk of the buffalo, the royal roar of the lion, the lethal stealth of the leopard just can’t leave you indifferent.
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