One rhino steak, please, well done!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Do you fancy a rhinoceros steak?

Astonishingly, it's a thought that came to mind directly linked to the US presidential election (which is underway as I pen these words).

You see, the elections are not only about putting a cross (or crescent, if you're Muslim) next to the name of your preferred candidate for control of the world's largest nuclear arsenal; it's also about voting for candidates for the US Senate as well as voting on particular bits of legislation proposed for one's state.

One of those which caught my eye is in the state of Nebraska: Legislative Resolution 40CA, also known as Proposed Amendment 2, which is a “proposed amendment to establish that the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife is subject only to laws, rules and regulations that preserve the future of hunting, fishing and the promotion of wildlife conservation and management."

If adopted by voters, the constitutional amendment would declare public hunting and fishing as the preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.

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Now you might well ask, what is this all about?

The answer is complicated, but essentially is a backlash against animal rights activists such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Now almost all of us as humans recognise the need for ensuring that other species do not go extinct. (Except for anopheles mosquitos carrying malaria – I want those exterminated.) What we differ in is how we achieve that end.

People in PETA along with the likes of people in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) believe that all killing is unacceptable and want us to become vegetarians wearing homespun.

(This gets taken to extremes by some adherents of these philosophies who recommended cordoning off carnivores from herbivores and feeding the former meat substitutes.)

I on the other hand have had the benefit of studying science, and as such am aware that we as a species are hardwired to eat meat. (We have canine teeth, we metabolise animal fats, etc, etc.)

Srila Prabupada, the founder of ISKCON, took the view that if we are truly carnivorous as a species, we should behave as other carnivores do, namely to stalk our prey, pounce upon the creature, and rip out its jugular with our claws and teeth.

I disagree with his reasoning. Our ancestors used to do that. Then we developed an extremely powerful weapon – the brain. And with that came the ability to specialise. As the lion sends the lionesses off to hunt while he guards the territory, so too do we now send some of us off to slaughter our meat. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, I don't need to bark because I have a dog.

What is also true is that as a result of this weapon, we eliminated a range of competing predators from our natural environment. Lions once freely roamed the Cape peninsula, for example. We got rid of the lions. As a result, baboons lost their natural predators and have now overrun that environment.

The people of Nebraska (as represented by their elected officials) believe that the appropriate way to solve our baboon problem would be to allow them to be hunted. Their amendment would entrench that right into their state constitution.

The people of the Western Cape feel very strongly about such things. Their champions of conservation believe that the baboon population needs to be humanely managed (which includes a range of expensive techniques such as tagging and tracking and sterilisation).

I believed in similar things until one of those vicious bastards (the baboon, not the conservationist) climbed into the back seat of my car and tried to make a meal of my daughter who was about five years old at the time and strapped in her car seat.

Now, I'm firmly of the view that the only way the baboon problem will be solved is to instil in them a sense of fear of us as a species – generally by leaving their carcasses out as a warning to proceed no further.

I also believe that it is simply a matter of time before a high profile member of society of a darker hue than the average resident of Cape's southern suburbs falls victim to a baboon attack – at which point national legislation will be passed declaring open season on our simian cousins.

So back to the rhinoceros steak – if you've been watching the hysteria in our media around the drastic increase in the number of poached rhinos, you're probably aware that the campaign to prevent slaughter of those creatures is just not working.

So let's farm them – they are vegetarians and will probably taste good. We can then harvest rhino horns, package the powder into environmentally sensitive containers, and export it to the idiots who believe it will give a lift to their sex lives. It will be a great source of revenue for us as a nation and is a renewable resource.

And it should be less offensive to the vegetarians than hunting them in the wild to extinction.