Trump Right to Let Big-Game Hunters Bring Back Elephant Head Trophies from Africa

Hunting
AP

President Donald Trump’s administration is under fire for relaxing former President Barack Obama’s import ban on African big game trophies, but anyone who genuinely loves wild animals should support it.

Inevitably, the liberal media is spinning the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a retrograde step designed to please vested interests. Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Jr are both hunting enthusiasts. As, of course, is Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

But the Trump administration is quite right to rescind the ban, which means that U.S. game hunters will once more be able to bring back elephant head trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

A couple of years ago, in the wake of the Cecil the Lion outrage, I flew to Zimbabwe to find out more about the African big game industry.

Read the rest at Breitbart.

Theresa May Is Dead Right to Want to Rescind the Fox-Hunting Ban

The real business of hunting is what the staff do – the hard-working, badly paid, highly skilled country folk.

Though I don’t think much of Theresa May’s paternalistic soft-left politics, I do like her no-nonsense style. That Q&A she did for the Sunday Times where she was asked ‘Sherlock or Midsomer Murders?’ — ‘I’ve watched both’ she replied — was hilarious in its Olympian imperviousness to the convention, established by Tony Blair, that prime ministers must kowtow at all times to popular culture and sentiment.

So too was the extraordinarily unevasive answer she gave when asked recently why she was committed to allowing Conservative MPs a free vote on rescinding Tony Blair’s fox-hunting ban. ‘As it happens, personally, I’ve always been in favour of fox hunting,’ she said.

Me too. But when you’re a mainstream politician — not a maverick backbencher like, say, the brave, lovely and wonderful Kate Hoey — you’re not really supposed to say these things. I don’t recall David Cameron ever being so upfront — and unlike his successor, he has actually inhaled to hounds. So full marks to Mrs May for her almost Trumplike forthrightness and unpredictability.

What I wasn’t so sure about, at least initially, were her tactics. I can’t be the only hunting enthusiast who listened to her words and thought: ‘Shh, Theresa! Don’t remind them we’re still here.’ Obviously none of us wanted the ban. Hunting is unquestionably the noblest sport ever invented, the finest thing any human being (or horse or hound — or fox) can do, and without it Britain would be finished. But in the 13 years since the ban was introduced by Blair — largely as a sop to Labour’s insatiable bloodlust for anything scenting of class superiority — we’ve mostly managed to circumvent it in one way or another by ‘hunting within the law’.

That’s the phrase the huntsman always uses in the (carefully videoed) statement before you all set off from the meet. The hounds are following a pre-laid trail, not cute, lovable foxes, and if, heaven forfend, the pack should stray off course and inadvertently find Charlie instead, well of course you can’t avoid the occasional accident. Which is why — belt and braces — quite a few hunts bring an eagle or an owl with them, to exploit the exemption in the law which allows hounds to flush foxes towards birds of prey. You can’t be too careful, can you?

In the days when my family still allowed me to hunt — a ban which, à la Theresa, I am working to rescind — I used to love joining so many people of all ages and from all walks of life (six-year-olds on ponies; old battle-axes on cobs; nurses; farmers; high-court judges) conspiring to very nearly break what we all knew was an unjust and (-happily) mostly unenforceable law. Hunting is the closest thing I’ve ever experienced in later life to the camaraderie, highs and illicit thrills of early 1990s warehouse rave culture.

But the point about hunting which we fairweather followers are inclined to forget amid the adrenalin and sloe-gin merriment is that it’s not about us. We’re just spectators. The real business of hunting is what the staff do: the huntsman, the whipper-in, the kennel and stable staff. These are the incredibly hard-working, woefully poorly paid, tremendously skilled country folk whose job it is to maintain and hunt the hounds, and keep alive traditions and standards going back centuries.

Read the rest at the Spectator.

Prince William Defends Trophy Hunting. Brave Call

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Prince William has bravely come out in defence of trophy hunting.

‘There is a place for commercial hunting in Africa as there is round the world,’ although he conceded: ‘It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.’

For this the heir to the British throne has inevitably been pilloried by the usual suspects.

The UK-based charity Lion Aid was among those leading the criticism, describing William’s comments as a “sad day”.

It added in a statement: “With likely less than 15,000 wild lions left in Africa, there is no place for commercial hunting of lions. With an estimated 1,500 wild male lions in existence and with current ‘offtake’ for trophy hunting of 300 per annum, continued trophy hunting cannot be deemed as sustainable.

But it’s the Prince who is talking sense on this occasion, not this two-bit animal charity. William has been getting an awful lot of stick, of late, in the UK media which has accused him of ducking his royal duties and being lazy. Under the circumstances, it would have been quite understandable if he’d taken the easy, populist line, rode the wave of post-Cecil-the-Lion hysteria and pretended to be frightfully upset by the idea of any big game being shot for pleasure ever again in Africa.

He didn’t take the coward’s way out, though. Instead William spoke the truth.

Trophy hunting brings millions of dollars a year into Africa’s wildlife conservation budget. Anyone who truly cares about wildlife should applaud it, not condemn it.

The only reason we don’t hear this more often is because of the vast and lucrative animal sentimentality industry. Aided and abetted by the bloviating of celebrities like Ricky Gervais, this industry makes millions of dollars every year by persuading rich, stupid people such as – I’m guessing, but fairly educatedly – the Kardashians to fork out gazillions for this endangered tiger or that threatened lion, bringing them the warm gooey feeling you always get when you think you’ve saved a cute, furry feline from being wiped off the planet. This industry does not deal in nuance (like, say, OK: how do we save all these animals given that natives who have to live alongside them consider them a dangerous pest?), only in raw emotion. You cross these animal-rights lunatics at your peril.

Read the rest at Breitbart.

Mr. Delingpole’s Sporting Tour: “I Must Establish a Career Where I Can Afford to Hunt Three Times a Week”

I’m writing this on a Monday morning and I remember the sensation all too well: it’s exactly the same sense of despondency and nostalgic yearning I used to feel after a weekend’s clubbing in the late 80s. Only this time, it’s not an Acid House all-nighter I’m coming down from, but a day out with the “Chid and Lec”, better known as the Chiddingfold, Leconfield & Cowdray Hunt.

Gosh, what a fun meet. All I can think about is the instant friends I made that day.

When I arrived — as a guest of joint-master Robin Muir — I didn’t know any of them from Adam. But five hours of hard riding and gentle quaffing later, they felt like my dearest mates.

From the 90 or so who were at the meet to enjoy the lavishly generous whisky mac stirrup cups in front of FitzHall, home of Rupert and Louie Uloth, to the 20 knackered stalwarts who stuck it out to the end.

“No sex,” complained our field master, Paul just before our huntsman Adrian “Sage” Thompson blew for home. I thought this was hunt-speak for “not much action.” But it turned out I’d misheard him.

He’d said “No scent. They just can’t pick up the trails.” Which was a bit sad, really, because according to various informed sources who’d heard it from the great Nigel Peel MFH (who began his career with this hunt) we were hunting over some of the best scenting country anywhere in England.

Quite a bit of it was marsh. At times, it almost felt like being cavalry at Passchendaele. Everyone ended up so mud-spattered we looked like a herd of leopards. But despite the conditions and the lack of sport, we did seem to do an awful lot of insane galloping. This often involved some very slippery right angle turns on the edge of stubble fields that you’d never do if you weren’t hunting.

That’s why we all so love hunting, isn’t it? It’s a license to do naughty things.

Read the rest at Horse and Hound.

My Mid-Life Polo Pony Crisis

Because I’m reckless, stupid and irresponsible, I normally get landed with the biggest, most obstreperous hunters. But the other weekend the riding school boss, Jane, decided to allocate me a different horse to ride. It was a smallish grey called Potato.

‘What’s he like?’ I asked one of the regulars. ‘Oh he’s lovely!’ she said. But I didn’t necessarily believe her. One of the things I’m learning about riders is that they lie through their teeth about how nice particular horses are. Something to do with the convention that misbehaviour is always the fault of the rider, never the horse.

‘He’s not very big,’ I complained. ‘How does he jump?’ ‘He doesn’t,’ my friend explained. ‘He’s a polo pony.’ Now I was starting to get quite sulky. I’m not saying I’m obsessed with jumping or that it doesn’t make me afraid. But I do know I need to do a lot more of it if I’m to be ready for next season and get my book Mister Delingpole’s Sporting Tour underway.

So I got onto Potato. I hardly needed the mounting block. And I looked at the riders who’d bagged one of the hunters, towering above me, thinking how unfair it was that they could have a go at the post and rails and I couldn’t.

I steered Potato towards the water trough to give him a drink. Every time I do this, I find myself thinking of the old adage, because it’s so true: you really can’t make a horse drink if he doesn’t want to. Potato did, though. He drank with ponyish enthusiasm and I began to warm to him.

Not as much as I did once I’d ridden him into the first field. ‘Woah!’ I declared to anyone who’d listen. ‘This pony is totally awesome!’ And he was too. Riding a hunter — a big, sturdy horse bred to jump over huge hedges and keep going all day — is like driving a Range Rover: big engine, lots of power, but a bit crap if you’re trying to nip in and out of tiny parking spaces. A polo pony, on the other hand, is more like a hot hatchback, such as that ludicrously inappropriate Golf Four Motion I acquired for next to nothing the other week. Instead of taking ages to get going, as my regular mounts Ted or Freddy do, this little number was nimble and responsive: just a slight squeeze and — vroom! — off he’d shoot. And the cornering! Wow! ‘I’ll tell you how to turn a polo pony,’ barked Jane. ‘How? How?’ I asked excitedly. ‘Shorten your reins a bit, put them in one hand and just turn your body.’ So I did. Wow and double wow! ‘These things can turn on a pin!’ I said.

And so sensitive. One of the maddening things about learning to ride is the myriad hours of frustration you have to put in kicking and squeezing reluctant nags to no avail. But a polo pony is a flattering beast. He makes you feel like one of those riders you see on TV, in control and in command, so that when you launch your lightning escape from Lord Baelish’s henchmen you just know they’re never going to catch up with you. ‘I expect Bucephalus was just like Potato,’ I mused.

Afterwards, Girl reported back to her mother. Apparently, I had behaved quite appallingly. ‘Dad was the most embarrassing thing ever!’ Girl said. ‘He was going round and round in circles saying: “Look at me, every-one! I’m practising my polo turns!”’ I’m afraid she wasn’t exaggerating. And the next day was even worse.

So determined was I to extract full value from my hour’s ride on Potato (£20! What a bargain! Is there any other pursuit where you can have that much fun for 20 quid?) that I began breaking all the school’s unspoken rules. Rule number one is that you only do stuff like cantering or jumping when Jane says you can. But I’m afraid I was naughty. At the end — desperate for a last canter, which is so different from a hunter’s canter, less like settling woozily into a comfy chair in a gentleman’s club after a magnum of claret, more like trying to outrun the Zulus at Fugitive’s Drift — I pretended I’d sort of lost control and let Potato hurtle at breakneck speed towards the gate, reining him in just in time to stop him crashing into the flank of one of the little ones on a pony.

There was much tut-tutting from the grown-ups. ‘Well that does at least explain why we had a rider fly over his head last week,’ Jane observed drily. ‘He does come to quite a sudden halt.’

Why am I telling you this? Well, it’s partly to keep you up to speed with my on-going midlife crisis, partly to urge those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of riding a polo pony urgently to consider doing so before you pop your clogs. And partly so I can dwell in melancholy fashion on what a bloody tragedy life is for those of us whose natural mental age is round about 14.

Yes, I know we all feel younger than we are. But some people are very comfortably middle-aged even in their early twenties and unfortunately for me, I’m not one of them. As I (very) fast approach 50 I’ve acquired many of the attributes, it’s true: receding hair, an increased fondness for tweed and Viyella shirts, a burning hatred for almost anything that happened after about 2007. That’s all just surface, though. Proffer me a bag of MDMA, give me the keys to a rorty Golf, put me on a pony that makes me feel like Alexander the Great and that’s it, I’m gone, mate. Forever young; forever doomed.

From The Spectator

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One thought on “My mid-life polo pony crisis”

  1. Rifleman says:18th May 2015 at 1:46 amOh, YES!!A blast from my past, indeed. The first horse I had riding lessons on was an Arab polo pony mare, who was a sort of equine Mother Theresa. Then I moved onto another polo pony – a Libyan Barb stallion called Tabu; only about 14 hands high, but a gutsy little pocket rocket, sounding very much like Potato.

    But the Hand of Fate was already shovelling the Lead Shot of Doom into the Boxing Glove of Destiny – and I met Tabourba. Yet another Libyan Barb – and polo pony – he had more in common with Attila the Hun than with Mother Theresa – and was living proof of the old saying:
    “You tell a gelding; you ask a mare; and you open negotiations with a stallion!”

    But, by God – could that horse TEACH! If you want to know what he looked like, take a peek at those old relief carvings from the Middle East, showing Assyrian cavalry.

    Or here’s a picture of a modern Barb, with the same stamp as Tabourba:

    http://i367.photobucket.com/albums/oo116/Tabourba/Barbs/Jdid5.jpg

    Though Tabourba wasn’t quite that pretty; more Dirty Harry than Colin Firth!

    But, for all his fearsome nature, he would go forwards, backwards or sideways with no more than the slightest inclination of your weight, and could hit a flat out gallop from a standing start faster than any horse I’ve ridden – and that includes Thoroughbred steeplechasers. As for turning and stopping; yes. He could pull up from a ‘polo canter’ (turbo gallop), turn on the proverbial tanner, and take off in the opposite direction just as fast, and still give you fourpence ha’penny change.

    (readers under the age of forty – ask your grandad about tanners and ha’pennies)

    And did he ram home the point made by my riding instructors; “Those reins are for sending me delicate and courteous MESSAGES, sonny – you’re not towing a damn barge with them!”

    Learning to ride on those Barb stallions was like learning to drive in a Lamborghini; learn fast, learn well – or die!

    And then I came back to England . . . and was put on a typical riding school kickalong plod . . . who needed a hefty thump in the ribs just to wake him up. It was like switching from the Lamborghini onto a builder’s dumper truck . . .
    :(

    Every rider should ride a polo pony at least once in their lives – and a stallion. If you manage to do both at the same time, you can truly say that you have flown with the gods – and lived to talk about it.

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If Ricky Gervais Really Cared about Giraffes He’d Hunt Them

Comedian Ricky Gervais has decided that because we liked The Office, quite enjoyed a couple of sketches in Extras (the David Bowie one and the Lenny Henry one) and weren’t all driven to suicide by Night At The Museum, we should therefore care what he thinks about giraffe rights.

Gervais takes them so seriously that when he found a photograph of “extreme huntress” Rebecca Francis posing next to the body of a giraffe she had shot, he just couldn’t resist exposing her to the righteous wrath of his 7.5 million Twitter follows, earning the poor woman a string of death threats.

What Gervais clearly doesn’t appreciate – why should he?: his job is making people laugh and hanging out with smug Hollywood liberals, not reading or thinking – is that any intelligent person who really cares about Africa’s wildlife ought to be backing people like Rebecca Francis to the hilt.

If it weren’t for Africa’s game industry there’d be virtually no game left in Africa to photograph, let alone hunt.

That’s because it’s the hunters who significantly bankroll the conservation, breeding and protection programmes that keep the animals from being poached to extinction.

In the game reserves of Africa they well understand this.

Here, for example, is Alexander N Songworna, director of wildlife for the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, pleading with the New York Times’s readership not to meddle with his country’s game industry.

In Tanzania, lions are hunted under a 21-day safari package. Hunters pay $9,800 in government fees for the opportunity. An average of about 200 lions are shot a year, generating about $1,960,000 in revenue. Money is also spent on camp fees, wages, local goods and transportation. And hunters almost always come to hunt more than one species, though the lion is often the most coveted trophy sought. All told, trophy hunting generated roughly $75 million for Tanzania’s economy from 2008 to 2011.

The same is true in Namibia, where permits to shoot black rhino raise $350,000 each – money which goes towards ensuring that there will still be black rhinos for future generations of Gervaises to gawp at and weep tears over.

If Gervais really cared about Africa’s wildlife, he’d put his money where his mouth is – as this fine upstanding hunter from Texas did recently, man up and go and bag himself a rhino. (Or, if he’s too chicken, a giraffe).

I know it’s not necessarily obvious, this paradox that in order to preserve animals it sometimes make sense to kill them. It’s a head thing, not a heart thing, unfortunately, which is why so many people of a liberal persuasion are so doomed never to get it.

Read the rest at Breitbart London

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I’d Rrather My Kids Were Killing Real Game than Playing Call of Duty on an Xbox

When is it wrong for a child to be taught discipline, responsibility and a love and understanding of the traditional ways of British country life?

When that lesson involves guns and game fowl, apparently.

Hence the story in today’s Daily Mail in which we are invited to be shocked by the fact that author and TV presenter Susannah Constantine has put up photographs on Instagram of her ten-year old daughter Cece beaming proudly, her face smeared in the blood of the first mallard duck she has shot and is pictured holding round its neck.

“Depressing”, “irresponsible” and “dangerous” claim the various animal rights campaign groups quoted in the article.

But for me – and, I would hope, the vast majority of Breitbart readers – the messages sent out by that charming photograph are the exact opposite of the ones that the animal rights fascists would like to impose on it.

How uplifting to see a ten-year old enjoying the outdoors rather than being hunched, as most of her contemporaries are so much of the time, over a computer!

How very responsible of this lucky girl’s wonderful parents to teach her such skills as fieldcraft, camouflage and markmanship, as well as imbuing her with an understanding of issues like conservation and the intimate relationship between meat and killing, and enabling her to operate on equal terms in a world traditionally dominated by men.

And how very safety-conscious to train her up from such a young age as to how to handle a deadly weapon responsibly.

Read the rest at Breitbart London

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