It seems incredible that a sport like this, which a lot of people think goes hand in hand with elitism, should be the first hunting group to come forward
Austin, TX (PRWEB) January 6, 2007
In an unprecedented move yesterday, hunters and fishermen on both sides of the Atlantic came together to form a new, environmentally-conscious hunting group - Hunters and Ecologists for a Living Planet, or HELP (http://www.huntingrights.org) - and have announced the creation of the Hunters for Human Rights Award.
Hunters and Human Rights? Unlikely bedfellows surely. Not according to Rupert Isaacson, founder and director of HELP, as the new organization is known, "Hunters all over the world - whether deer hunters and duck shooters in the USA, fox-hunters and pheasant shooters in the UK, fishermen or even people like the San Bushmen of Africa's Kalahari, the Inuit of the Arctic, the Indian tribes of the Amazon basin, Australia's Aborignes - collectively these people are the stewards of the world's last remaining significant wilderness eco-systems. And everywhere, these people are under attack, especially in the developing world - whether it's Bushmen being herded into camps to make way for diamond mines in Botswana, Batwa pygmies being dispossessed to make way for loggers in the Congo, or Indians kicked off their land to make way for colonists and miners in South America. Hunters in the West, who have the money and political clout to help their fellow hunters in other parts of the world, need to step up to the plate, not only to help save these incredible cultures but also the eco-systems they protect."
Surprisingly, there has been a big response to this 'call to arms.' The biggest response so far has come from red-coat wearing foxhunters - traditionalists who go out with horses and hounds in the old English style. "It seems incredible that a sport like this, which a lot of people think goes hand in hand with elitism, should be the first hunting group to come forward," admits Isaacson.
But Otis Ferry, son of the famous rock star Bryan Ferry and now professional huntsman for the South Shropshire Hunt Club in England, says the link is obvious. "Fox-hunters know what it is to have their rights trampled on, despite all the good conservation work they do - we know what these hunting cultures are going through." Mr Ferry's hunt club has donated a vehicle to the displaced San Bushman hunters of Botswana (considered to be the world's oldest culture) and filled it with tools, clothes and other items.
Fox-hunters in America have also come forward. Noel Ryan, professional huntsman to the Loudon Hunt Club in Virginia, has organized his and other hunt clubs on the East Coast to raise money for the San Bushmen to go to court to have their subsistence hunting licenses - taken away from them when the Botswana government forcibly removed them from their land to make way for diamond mining in 2002 - given back.
"We believe in a living planet," says Ryan. "We believe in nature and the human traditions that go with it. We believe that hunting within ethical boundaries is the deepest ecology known to humans."
"We will have two Hunters for Human Rights award ceremonies in the Fall of 2007," says Isaacson, founder and director of HELP; "one in New York, one in London. We call for all hunting and fishing groups to come forward and compete for these awards, which will have categories in all forms of hunting and fishing. We also call on hunting supply companies such as Cabela's, Bass Pro and other chains - who have a very good record of working with conservation groups - as well as the big game hunting groups such as Safari Club International to come forward and compete for our Corporate Hunters for Human Rights Award."
Jumanda Gakelobone, a San Bushman hunter and activist from Botswana whose people have been fighting for the return of the ancestral lands since 2002, was informed of the Hunters for Human Rights Award Wednesday Dec 3rd. Speaking by phone from Africa he said: "Hunters are the ones who understand, more than anyone, the fragile balance of ecologies. We applaud this decision by our fellow hunters in the West to come to our aid. Perhaps then we can save our wild lands, and everyone on the planet will benefit."
For more information, or to get involved in the Hunters for Human Rights Award, go to http://www.huntingrights.org or call Rupert Isaacson, HELP director, at 512 294 1561.