NEWS AND COMMENT: Putin, his cronies and the oligarchs of Russia, alpha males all of them, love trophy hunting. Although we’ve seen Putin professing to be involved in conservation of the Siberian tiger and Amur leopard, it appears to be a front because The Times today reports that an ally of Putin has been funding the pro-hunting lobby and there are links between the Kremlin and efforts to stop a ban on trophy imports into the UK.
Sergey Yastrzhembsky, 68, was a spokesman for Putin and is one of the elite Russian hunters who have helped to finance a group which was trying to stop the UK ban on big-game hunting.
This man is a prominent member of a mountain hunting club. It brings together oligarchs and Russian politicians who support the Kremlin and their ideology and also ex-Russian special forces personnel.
The Times tells us that they are wealthy Russians who back an international group “that seeks to save trophy hunting by portraying it as a sustainable use of wildlife”. This is the classic defensive tactic of trophy hunters. They always justify their barbaric behaviour by saying that it improves conservation. The truth of it is that it doesn’t.
Britain should know. Trophy hunting was popularised in Britain by an old Etonian soldier, Gordon-Cumming. Their trophy hunting resulted in the extirpation (complete destruction in the wild) of the quagga, a type of zebra. It was wiped out in the wild by British trophy hunters in the nineteenth century. The same people shot the last wild scimitar-horned Oryx in the 1970s and the Arabian Oryx in the 1980s.
Today, the lion is being gradually eradicated from the continent of Africa and trophy hunters are contributing to that its extinction. It is said that the lion is losing its abilities to survive due to inbreeding because of the pressure that a reduction in the population numbers has on its behaviour. The elephant is also on the way to extinction in the wild. There are many other iconic species such as the rhinoceros which are suffering the same fate. Sport hunting also portrays the killing of animals for fun as acceptable and treats animals as objects and non-sentient beings.
Yastrzhembsky is a lying propagandist. Like all senior Russian politicians who like to disseminate lies and claim that black is white and white is black and that fake news is true news and true news is fake news, Yastrzhembsky claimed that the poisoning of Alexander Litvenenko was UK propaganda to discredit Putin.
He is a big-time financial supporter of trophy hunting. He sponsors the Russian Club of Mountain Hunters. This club has emerged as a financial backer of Sustainable Use and Livelihood Specialist Group (Suli). This is a group of so-called experts who argue that hunting is a conservation measure. They argue that it benefits wildlife and local people.
They propagate the idea that trophy hunting benefits people because they make payments to the communities and they present themselves as philanthropists. Bribery, right?
And this so-called expert group is a leading voice against the UK government’s proposed ban on trophy imports. They state that the ban will cost the lives of many animals. They say that it will harm conservation and even undermine local human rights.
Dilys Roe is a biodiversity researcher in the UK as I understand it. She chairs the expert group and said that: “We do not support hunting – or any other forms of wildlife use including tourism – per se, but make judgements based on evidence for sustainability in terms of both conservation and livelihood impacts”. More lies.
Sir Roger Gale MP, chairman of the Parliamentary group said: “There is clearly a well-funded and orchestrated campaign against ministers and MPs designed to thwart the trophy ban that nine out of 10 voters want to see introduced. When we followed the money trail, we traced it back to the American gun lobby and rich Russian oligarchs with close links to Vladimir Putin.”
This is a battle between the bloodthirsty trophy hunters who just don’t get it and the general public and conservationist to really want to do something about protecting the planet and the animals that live on it. The money is with the oligarchs and the rich American trophy hunters. And the oligarchs stole the money from the Russian people in privatising state mega-businesses such as mining, oil and gas industries.