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Letter to Today Online, 1 Jul 05

The thrill of the hunt ...
Reply by Grant Pereira

Today Online
, 29 Jun 05

He hunts to help save endangered species

Wildlife can thrive if an economic reason exists for their survival

Guy Hoh follows a tradition that dates back to the Stone Age: He is a hunter. The former IT industry executive runs Blaze Sporting Clays, Singapore's first and only business that provides training in sports shooting and organises at least five hunting safaris a year. He also published a cookbook recently. He shares his passions with RICHARD SEAH.

Were you a sharpshooter in national service?
Actually, I wasn't. The shooting I do isn't very military in nature, although the fundamentals are the same. However, I have won a few shooting medals in the region as well as in the United Kingdom when I was studying at Leicester University. I am now a locally and internationally-qualified coach in rifle, shotgun and pistol sports.

Describe your first hunt.
I started shooting at 11. I was first a bird shooter, shooting green pigeons and flying foxes on plantations in Malaysia. When I was in the UK, I shot lots of tasty pheasants, partridges and wood pigeons. Then a guy took me out on my first deer hunt and I was pretty much hooked. In UK, I ate more wild game than beef or chicken. My first hunt in Africa was early last year. It was 10 times better then I ever dreamed it would be.

When you take an animal, it is a bittersweet experience. A part of you is melancholy because something noble has given up its life for you. But there is also a savage joy that must be felt to be understood.

What would you say to animal rights activists?
If we want wildlife to survive, we must give them an economic reason to exist. A combination of national parks, where hunting is banned, and adjoining game reserves that allow controlled hunting, often ensures the preservation of the wild.

I organise only legal hunts that are managed scientifically by private landowners or by parks authorities. All animals are set aside to be hunted and most are overpopulated on the land we hunt on. Often, we hunt to manage the eco-system.

Well regulated hunting ensures the successful re-population of many once-endangered species. A good example is the black wildebeest. Native to South Africa, it was nearly extinct until game farms and hunting preserves stocked them for hunting. Now their populations are healthy.

I believe that regulated sports hunting is a tool of conservation. It is when animals are not valued that they are exploited.

What sort of people join you on safaris?
I shoot with many people whose professions include teaching, business, medicine and the law. A weekend shoot will cost you between $150 and $250. Some of my value safari packages range from US$1,500 ($2,527) to US$3,000, for everything except flights and taxidermy.

What does it take to be a hunter?
Good health. Others, like bush craft and firearms skills, can be learnt. We do take novice hunters out and show them the ropes. But I must warn that safari in Africa can be extremely addictive!

You published a cookbook recently . It's called Just Good Food. It has a chapter called "Hunt and gather" and in many of the recipes, you can substitute game for the common meats.
Hunting is very much an extension of cooking. By hunting, fishing and gathering wild plants, I get closer to my ingredients.

Which meats do you like best?
Any kind of venison braised or simply grilled quickly over hot coals. Yummy! Wild pig (warthog, bush pig, wild boar) and kangaroo are also pretty yummy. There are also some fish recipes in the book. Nothing beats fresh fish grilled on the bank of the river you caught it in.

Do you eat your 2 + 2 servings of fruits and vegetables daily?
Ha ha! Great question. Yes, of course, and more. I love rocket salad and tomatoes, raw or cooked. My favourite local vegetable has to be kangkong (very spicy please!) although I am also partial to tang oh.

Letter to Today Online, 1 Jul 05
The thrill of the hunt ...
Letter by Grant Pereira

Is that what drives Hoh? Or is it wildlife management How does hunting help?

I respond with concern to the article, "He hunts to help save endangered species" (June 30).

I am appalled at this portrait of a man hunting down animals for his own pleasure. That it arouses "a savage joy that must be felt to be understood", is hardly a reason to go into the wild and shoot animals.

Careful management of wildlife has become an issue these days, much like reducing the use of plastic bags or fossil-fuel consumption. Indeed, controlled culling can be part of conservation. But it is sad to see that, for hunters like Mr Guy Hoh, the scale is tilted more towards joy and power than preservation.

In January this year, Mr Hoh contacted me about advertising his hunting safaris. He emphasised the joy and power involved. Wildlife, nature and ecology were issues raised only when we voiced our opposition to his cause. Luring people with a one-sided ad on shooting wild game and enjoying a safari, emphasising the joy and lust for power, is not acting responsibly.

What deserves focus are facts and figures showing how hunting will help save endangered species. Hoh uses 'voodoo' logic. Mr Guy Hoh's explanation which implies that once an economic value is placed on an endangered species, there's a very good chance it will be saved borders on voodoo logic.

The status "endangered" given to any living thing indicates that it is in danger of being extinct, so how does shooting them help increase their population?

I have no objection to hunting in some cases where it is beneficial, especially on over-populated, introduced non-native species that compete with native species. But remember: Extinction is forever.

Grant W Pereira
Asia Representative
Seashepherd Conservation Society

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