Should you refrain from posting your hunt on social media?
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
It’s the same story over and over again: a hunter posts a photo on social media of an animal that he or she harvested, someone with a large social following expresses condemnation of the hunt, and then a firestorm of disapproval ensues for the next few days. Then, the whole process repeats itself a few weeks later.
These incidents usually revolve around photos of animals like giraffes and lions hunted in Africa, but there have also been a few episodes involving hunts in the United States.
Regardless of where the hunt took place, the end result is never good: the hunter is the object of harassment (and sometimes even death threats), and the hunting community in general gets a lot of negative publicity in the media.
So, what can be done to break this cycle?
For more information, visit the Namibia Professional Hunting Association on Facebook.
Well, Pohamba Shifeta, the Namibian Minister of Environment and Tourism, made waves in hunting circles in early July when he made the following announcement hinting at a future ban on posting photos of dead animals on social media at a conference in Windoek:
The Ministry would like to request all hunters, even those with valid hunting permits, to refrain from posting photographs of dead animals taken during hunting expeditions on social media. This practice is not only unethical but it also tarnishes the image of the well-regulated Namibian hunting industry. Consequently, the Ministry has now introduced a new permit condition, to prohibit hunters with valid permits not to post or send photographs on public platforms but just to take photographs for their own use in their private capacities. The Ministry kindly requests that this new condition must be adhered to at all times.
On one hand, many hunters might say that banning all photos showing dead animals legally taken during a hunt is an extreme position that caves to anti-hunting pressure without addressing any of the root issues. However, on the other hand, it’s also clear that insensitive photographs can also cause a lot of trouble for the hunting community.
Personally, I do not believe that a blanket ban on sharing all trophy photos on social media is the answer to our problems. However, I do believe that we as hunters need to take steps to self-police our ranks and ensure that we’re not letting irresponsible actors give anti-hunters ammunition they can use to attack us.
Even more importantly, we need to think about how our actions are viewed by the non-hunting community.
There is a certain segment of the population that will never approve of hunting. However, the vast majority of people do not hunt, but are not necessarily opposed to the practice either and are open to learning more.
The trick is to educate these people about the positive aspects of hunting, like getting to enjoy nature up close, becoming more connected with your food, and the many scientifically proven benefits of well-regulated hunting.
Unfortunately, these things aren’t easily conveyed in a trophy photo shared on Facebook. Indeed, some of these photos are more likely to give the wrong impression about what hunting is all about to someone who honestly doesn’t know any better.
Remember: these are the people that will determine the future of hunting. What steps do you think we should take that allow hunters to share their experiences with their friends and family, while at the same time also "put our best foot forward" for non-hunters?
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