“Are they out of their minds?” (What else can you conclude?)

Last week in America, I read with amazement but not total shock (nothing about China – or the Bush administration – can totally shock me anymore) about the Chinese government holding an auction for the rights to hunt animals on the country’s endangered/protected species lists. The Chinese Internet went wild (justifiably so) and the plan was shelved. It was one of those stories that was so odd I couldn’t quite believe it, and I decided to leave it alone.

Luckily, another blogger wrote it up in a post that indicates we may have in our midst a supremely talented and insightful English-writing Chinese blogger whose style is almost as caustic as my own. This is a small snippet:

This is yet another perfect example of an unbelievably stupid government policy getting ripped into pieces by the Internet masses and on popular media, with the mandarins backing down shame-faced in the end. The difference is, this time around the skepticism and criticism is almost unanimous: At this very moment, CCTV is running an interactive news commentary program, “discussing” but mostly condemning it. Indeed, it’s almost a textbook case of bureaucratic incompetence with factors offensive to every actively outspoken group on the Internet:

To environmentalists and animal rights sympathizers: putting up some of our rarest animals to be gunned down, for a price? Are you f****** kidding me? And to be done by the Ministry of Forestry, the governent agency supposed to be protecting them? What kind of a world am I living in?

To nationalists: the bidding is open only to foreigners? What the hell? Like my RMB doesn’t smell as sweet as your US dollars even though mine is appreciating, under “international pressure”? Like we are going to tolerate foreigners (Americans, NRA members, probably; oh, and don’t even get me started on the Japanese!) with their big guns roaming free on OUR land, slaughtering OUR animals?

To the not rich and cynical: so, if you’re filthy rich enough, you can kill whatever you want. And the more you pay, the bigger and rarer the prey. So am I gonna become your game one day if you can pay the price?

The last paragraph of the post, which I’m not copying here, is the funniest. Go read the whole thing. And special thanks to Lisa for writing about this.

Definitely a new addition for my blogroll. There is a lot of superb stuff on this blog. Just keep scrolling.

The Discussion: 21 Comments

Hee! Yeah. I almost put in the last paragraph and then didn’t. It is really funny. And one of the funniest aspects of it, to me anyway, is that the list of PC bloggers’ concerns he posits is awfully close to one you’d make about American bloggers.

Same stuff. Different continent.

August 14, 2006 @ 12:48 am | Comment

I cannot believe this. First dogs, now endangered species… do they have something against animals?

August 14, 2006 @ 3:02 am | Comment

I don’t think you should automatically condemn this. In the US, environmental groups and hunters have gotten together in a similar program to hunt big horn sheep, a very endangered animal. But I think they allow the hunting of like ten per year.

The hunters, who pay hundreds of thousands for the right to kill one ram, natrually want the one with the biggest horns – which also is likely the oldest alpha male ram, the one with the most offspring, etc. He has already succeeded in life, and the money goes for conservation purposes.

The money goes to preserving more land for the ram’s offspring, allowing them to have kids of their own, and keeping his genetic line thriving.

Here is an article from Mother Jones, not an NRA favorite, on how well the system works.

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2005/03/03_2005_Duane.html

August 14, 2006 @ 8:27 am | Comment

I hope the U.S. Republicans don’t get wind of this. They’d see it as a great money-maker. How much would someone pay to be able to kill the VERY LAST EXAMPLE of some species? Sure, it revolts you and me, but there are people who would want the fame (or infamy) of killing the last one. Same sick motivation that drives people like Mark David Chapman to murder John Lennon.

This also makes me recall a story that made the rounds on the ‘Net a few months ago about a U.S. chef who put on these clandestine, invitation-only dinners featuring the meat of threatened species. Part of the menu was filet of dog; I forget which breed, but some fluffy lap-dog type. No shortage of takers on that. No Korean jokes, please…

August 14, 2006 @ 10:26 am | Comment

Bukko,

What if we could get some incredibly wealthy hunter to pay $10 Billion to kill a panda and then used the money to preserve the habitat of other pandas? Wouldn’t that be a positive for the species as a whole and make their survival much more likely?

Of course it is a matter of scale of the program; but the fewer of these permits allowed the more some hunters would be willing to pay for the “prestige” of having some rare species mounted.

It sucks to be the panda that is killed, or the yak or whatever animal. But for the species as a whole, the trade may be well woth it, especially those species whose habitat is rapidly being destroyed or degraded. For those species, the only solution may be enormous wildlife preserves, which are expensive to create, police, and maintain.

August 14, 2006 @ 11:44 am | Comment

I think many are missing the point here. What ever happened to doing the right thing because it is the right thing? Does everything have to be about economic expediency? Even if the end result of the permits is to fund wildlife protection and habitat preservation, doesn’t it make sense to work on those issues as a matter of course. Do we have to rely on the murders of a few innocents to preserve the masses? Oh….that’s right….that’s the nature of being human. What an utterly despicable example of government policy being determined by people with no moral compass. Notice, I didn’t point to the Chinese government in particular. Policies like this seem to a fact of life in all governments. Hopefully, when humans encounter a superior species, we will be treated with a little more mercy.

August 15, 2006 @ 4:39 am | Comment

I think many are missing the point here. What ever happened to doing the right thing because it is the right thing? Does everything have to be about economic expediency? Even if the end result of the permits is to fund wildlife protection and habitat preservation, doesn’t it make sense to work on those issues as a matter of course. Do we have to rely on the murders of a few innocents to preserve the masses? Oh….that’s right….that’s the nature of being human. What an utterly despicable example of government policy being determined by people with no moral compass. Notice, I didn’t point to the Chinese government in particular. Policies like this seem to a fact of life in all governments. Hopefully, when humans encounter a superior species, we will be treated with a little more mercy.

August 15, 2006 @ 4:43 am | Comment

Please accept my apologies for the double post.

August 15, 2006 @ 7:41 am | Comment

I think many are missing the point here. What ever happened to doing the right thing because it is the right thing? Does everything have to be about economic expediency?

Isn’t that the point of governments? Isn’t it a good thing when governemts find ways to protect the environment in economically efficient ways, and forge coallitions of unlikely allies (those who protect endangered species and those who hunt)? And I’m pretty sure I’m not missing your point. You would like to live in a world where people do the right thing (or what you say is the right thing) all the time, and they ignore economic realities. Good luck.

And yes, we should fund wildlife protection as a matter of course. We have been doing so in the US for 30 years, and in the meantime species are more and more rapidly becoming extinct; our earth is losing some of its biodiversity. Now is the time for creative solutions that coopt other activist groups – yes, like the NRA.

Maybe you should read the article that i linked to above. It discribes how hunting and fishing groups are some of the best conservationists in the world, preserving wetlands so that their grandchildren can someday hunt duck in as beautiful a place as their fathers did. I’m an American, so I immediately think of Teddy Roosevelt, an avid hunter whoi created our system of National Parks, preserving such treasures as Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and the Everglades.

I am not a hunter. I am a vegitarian. But in a world where I cannot get everyone to share my values, I choose to instead show them how they will be harmed by the destruction of our planet. If this means appealing to their own self-interest, so be it.

August 15, 2006 @ 8:31 am | Comment

Yeah, I do get the hunter/conservationist link. i really do. But there’s something about hunting endangered species that I find really repulsive regardless. It’s all about ego – let me get that rare trophy on my wall. Not about living in harmony with nature.

August 16, 2006 @ 12:31 am | Comment

But there’s something about hunting endangered species that I find really repulsive regardless. It’s all about ego – let me get that rare trophy on my wall. Not about living in harmony with nature.

That explains why someone shouldn’t want to hunt endangered species, not why governments and conservasion groups shouldn’t explore new ways of funding the creation of reserves. I’m not saying you should like the people who choose to do these things, just take their money and use it to protect the endangered species populations.

If some guy needs to kill a grizzly bear to make him feel powerful, that is sad. If by allowing ten people to do that per year the government could double or triple the amount of wildlife preserve in Alaska, prevent further degradation of the habitat, and as a result the grizzly comes off the endangered list, do those 10 bears matter?

August 16, 2006 @ 11:40 pm | Comment

Yeah, it really matters. Whoever would get a thrill out of killing a member of an endagered species is a psychopath. I’m glad to see you are all alone on this one.

August 17, 2006 @ 2:11 am | Comment

“almost as caustic as my own”

Since when have you been caustic?

August 17, 2006 @ 9:58 am | Comment

Mmm, because governments are made up of people and are to some extent an expression of peoples’ values?

Tom, I do get the logic behind it. I just think it’s sick.

August 17, 2006 @ 10:26 am | Comment

Richard,

I am not alone on this, and if you think I am, you are ignorant of what consevation groups have been saying.

When species go extinct it is almost never due to sport hunting. They go extinct because their habitat is degraded or destroyed. Hunters work to protect those habitats, enlarge and restore them.

Let me quote Roosevelt “In a civilized country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen. The excellent people who protest against all hunting and consider sportsmen as enemies [do not understand] that in reality the genuine sportsman is, by all odds, the most important factor in keeping the larger and more valuable wild creatures from total extermination.”

That may no longer be exactly true. Others have finally caught up to sportmen in this regard, but it took them a few thousand years.

If he is too biased a source (as a hunter), then how about California state wildlife biologist Tom Stephenson, “When hunters get interested in an animal, it’s often the best thing that can happen to that species.”

Or if he may be too biased (as a scientist), how about the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which has praised some of these programs (obviously, not all of these programs are well run).

Read the article I linked to earlier. I was shocked by how it made me feel a year or so ago, and I instantly remembered it when you posted “Are they out of their minds?”

Clearly, they are not out of their minds. Lisa now sees the logic in this and no longer feels “they are out of their minds.”

Maybe I’m out of my mind. I just realize that what is important is not one animal, but that the endangered species and their beautiful habitat are around for my grandchildren to enjoy. What is crazy about that?

August 19, 2006 @ 6:41 pm | Comment

If you don’t see what’s crazy about it, it’s your problem. Note the groundswell of support for your argument.

August 19, 2006 @ 9:08 pm | Comment

Richard,

Why don’t you make an argument for why it is wrong? Instead, you attack me. Sounds like you have forsaken logic for the attack mode of a right winger. Congratulations.

OtherLisa doesn’t think it is crazy, she thinks it is logical. She just instinctively disagrees with the visceral notion of killing something. That I can understand, but as long as other hunting is allowed, instinct is no argument against pursuing a greater good.

I hope you will be satisfied when species go completely extinct due to destruction of their habitat. Because that is where your policy leads.

August 20, 2006 @ 5:54 pm | Comment

Yes Tom. Whatever you say.

August 20, 2006 @ 6:08 pm | Comment

Did I miss your argument? Did you offer a single defense of your viewpoint other than to call others “crazy”?

Here is an analogy that even you may be able to understand, though I have my doubts.

Imagine a biologist doing research on snow leopards that will likely save the species from extinction, but he must kill one per year. The research has a great chance of success, and the species will certainly die if nothing else is done. However, as I mentioned, he must kill one snow leopard per year for a period of 20 years (possibly for some vaccine or something to be used for the other snow leopards).

Would you support this program?

Now imagine a program that allows one hunter to kill a snow leopard per year, and likewise safeguards the species from extinction – this time through habitat preservation and reclamation. It is not certain that the species will survive under this new program, but the program greatly enhances the chances of the animal. The species will certainly die if nothing else is done. One snow leopard per year, for a period of 20 years will greatly enhance the chances for survival.

Why not support this program? From the perspective of conservationists and governments, the two programs seek to attain the exact same goal.

Only an illogical, irrational, crazy person would accept the first, and not the second. Or someone who dilikes hunters so much, that he would rather have endangered species go extinct.

That is you.

August 20, 2006 @ 6:50 pm | Comment

Tom, would you like some pancakes?

August 20, 2006 @ 7:01 pm | Comment

I’d be willing to bet noone else is checking this thread richard, or aunt jemima.

Or maybe that is the type of quality opinion that you look for as your “groundswell of support”.

August 20, 2006 @ 7:13 pm | Comment

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