Conservation is about preserving a species, not about caring for individuals – and that is a really significant difference. If we translated it into human terms, it would be like justifying the deaths of a certain section of the population because there are enough of them left to survive. This is not how people who became vegan to protect animals think. They recognize that the life of each individual animal matters to them as much as yours does to you.
Some hunting can be classed as conservation. Some hunters target the weakest animals or the sick, and feel justified in doing so, even if they have little understanding of how their part in killing that animal helps the species as a whole. Sometimes, people shout ‘conservation’ as a way of justifying their own desires and without really considering if it is true. And many hunters set out to target the strongest animals – the trophy animal or the largest, healthiest one for the pot. This, then, does nothing for the conservation of a healthy wild population.
‘What if hunters pay and that money goes to fund legitimate conservation projects?’ you may ask. ‘What if we charged murderers to kill people and that money went into legitimate protection initiatives?’ we would answer! It doesn’t really stack up, does it? You might think we should conserve species and protect individuals because it is the right thing to do, not because we get to shoot a beautiful wild animal. Besides, in America, a lot of the funds raised from hunting for conservation go towards buying land to allow hunters to hunt this area, too.1 It doesn’t sound like conservation; it sounds like self-interest.
We understand that people enjoy hunting, that they were brought up doing it and it has become an important part of their family culture and traditions. We know it’s not always easy to break these traditions, but many people like Chris Peed do. They have changed how they see and interact with the natural world and are happier and more at peace because of that change.
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