Calgary

Trophy hunt protesters demonstrate outside hunting expo after court victory

More than 100 protesters rallied outside a southeast Calgary hotel Saturday, once again calling for an end to trophy hunting in Africa.

More than 100 rallied outside Africa Show at the Delta Hotel in Calgary

Protesters outside the Delta Hotel in southeast Calgary called for an end to trophy hunting in Africa. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

More than 100 protesters rallied outside a southeast Calgary hotel Saturday, once again calling for an end to trophy hunting in Africa.

The group was upset about the annual Africa Show happening inside, showcasing trophy hunting on that continent.

"More and more people are becoming more educated about what's happening," said protest organizer Michael Donovan, part of the group Ban African Trophy Hunting (BATH).

"A lot of people don't pay much attention to Africa, but through social media in particular, we've been able to get the message out, explaining to Canadians about the waste of animals in Africa, the atrocities being committed against animals and even against the African people," Donovan said.

"Tribal people have been made to move off their ancestral lands in order to accommodate trophy hunting."

Protest organizer Michael Donovan said his group is also working to get legislation changed, making it illegal to import animal parts from Africa. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

The Calgary chapter of Safari Club International (SCI), which has a booth at the trade show, applied for an injunction last month, asking that protesters be barred from yelling insults at attendees as they went inside.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Richard Neufeld reserved his decision on the matter in late December.

The BATH group is also working to get legislation changed to ban the import of animal parts from Africa into Canada, said Donovan.

"That will go a long way to diminishing trophy hunting," he said.

David Little, with the Calgary chapter of Safari Club International, called the protests a necessary evil. (Mike Symington/CBC)

David Little, with the Calgary chapter of SCI — one of 150 chapters around the world — called the protest "a necessary evil."

"I like it because in Canada we have the freedom to assemble, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and we in no way want to ever inhibit that," he said.

"If you're educated about an issue you should be talking about it, but if you're just out yelling to hear yourself yell, that's a waste of people's time."

Little pointed out, "every jurisdiction in Canada uses hunting as a means of conservation."

"The federal government and the provinces support wildlife trade, so bringing trophies back in, because they know it enhances conservation in the countries where [the animal] is hunted," he said. "Really, the debate is over. Is hunting conservation? The protesters really need to learn more about hunting and conservation and I think they'd be much more supportive of what we're doing."

Rob Birch, with South Africa-based Royal Karoo Safaris, says many of the protesters are simply uninformed about hunting.

Rob Birch, with South Africa-based Royal Karoo Safaris, says many of the protesters are simply uninformed about hunting. (Mike Symington/CBC)

"I think the protests, from our point of view, is really just a lot of ignorance," he said. "I tried to speak with some of them and there's really no chance of conversing with them because they don't want to listen," he said.

"It's a lot of guys who are protesting because they don't actually know what the industry is about. It's about conservation through hunting and giving the animal a value. If the animal hasn't got a value, there's no reason for us to keep it."

Birch pointed out trophy hunting was banned in kenya in 1976, which he says had a negative effect on the area.

"Today, Kenya has got less than 30 per cent of the game species it had in the 1970s," he said.

"Suddenly the animals had no value to the population living in the rural areas, so the elephant suddenly was trampling gardens and nobody was coming to shoot the problem animals. The lions had no value, they were eating the livestock of the villagers. The antelope had no value, they were eating the [grass] the cattle would be eating. So the villagers started poaching them and taking them out."

Hunting also brings much-needed income into economically depressed areas, says Birch.

"There were drivers, there were guides, there were skinners, there were bottle washers, you name it, they were employed," he said. "When hunting was taken away, all that income in the rural areas wasn't there anymore."

With files from Mike Symington and Terri Trembath

now