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Comments On Morality Of Hunting In Zimbabwe

William Heubaum writes: Given our back and forth on this issue over the years you well know my position, and by now you have probably read my letter to the editor published in the current edition of Sports Afield. I respectfully submit that the time has more than arrived for all international hunters and respected leaders of the hunting community (such as yourself) to come together and say "enough already--no more hunting in Zimbabwe until the monster and his thugs are history." Our collective voices urging the imposition of total economic sanctions against Zimbabwe of the type which helped end apartheid in South Africa might well be what it takes to convince our government to take such action. Whether or not our government is moved to do that, we as hunters - and, more importantly, as humanitarians - can and should impose our collective will upon Mugabe by boycotting Zimbabwe and depriving him of our valuable American foreign exchange dollars. - Sincerely, Bill Heubaum,


Tom Mcintyre writes: I appreciate the courtesy and privilege of our sharing opposing views. I am afraid I feel only more strongly than ever about hunters, not necessarily going or not going to Zimbabwe, but searching their own consciences deeply about the decision. The issue, now even more than before, is unfortunately not about whether it is safe or not to hunt in Zimbabwe, or the worthy cause of supporting the safari industry - on a coldly pragmatic level, when, not if, Mugabe falls, how will the safari operators who continued to do business under his bloody regime be viewed by the new government and by the millions who suffered under him while hunters sipped their sundowners - or an obligation to the wildlife - if safari hunting is in fact absolutely necessary for the survival of the wildlife (and the evidence of the vast herds existing in southern Sudan and the giant sable in Angola after more than a quarter century of horrendous civil war does not entirely bear that out), then shouldn't hunters be flooding into Harare and into the field, despite any personal risk to themselves? But it is, and always has been, about all the people of Zimbabwe, who are all Africans whether black or white, and who do not deserve a monster such as Robert Gabriel Mugabe in their midst, while we throw up our hands and ask the disingenuous question, But what can we do? Again, my thanks for the dialogue. - Yours, Tom McIntyre,


George Leidel writes: I think it has become apparent that we as Americans can no longer ignore what is happening in Zimbabwe and be so self-centered and travel as if nothing is going on politically. Before, we could comfort ourselves by rationalizing that we were helping the economy in some of the peripheral areas with our hunting. The happenings of this past week have changed all of that, at least to this hunter. It's unfortunate that Mr. Tsvangirai had to drop out of the race and go into hiding because of the brutal violence that he felt responsible for. The wife of one of Tsvangirai's colleagues was savagely murdered while her husband was in jail in Harare last week. Murdered by hacking off her arms and legs and setting fire to her torso. We have been encouraged by the State Department not to travel to Zimbabwe and now I have to agree. It's not encouraging that Mugabe receives sympathy from several of his African neighbors, which is not a good sign for the African continent as a whole. Don, I guess I just felt compelled to vent my frustrations on this issue. I was there last summer, and my wife and I had a wonderful time in the bush. The PH's I met all said the bush was the place to be in Zimbabwe. There, you have power, hot water and plenty of food. Outside of camp, you could tell the people were suffering though. It's all very unfortunate. Zimbabwe's potential was almost limitless and the former farm owners that I met seemed to be good businessmen. They speak of those times in very endearing terms. How very sad. In my opinion, we should re-think our attitude on hunting Zimbabwe until the Mugabe situation is resolved and the country is free again. - Best Personal Regards, George D. Leidel, MD,


Don Causey Reply: I understand the argument against hunting in Zimbabwe, and it is compelling. On the other hand, I know hunting dollars are saving wildlife in Zimbabwe and that is of incalculable importance to future generations of Zimbabweans. Also, I remember hunting in Ethiopia in the 80s when Mengistu was in power. He used starvation as an instrument of political power and conducted Stalinist-type purges and population movements. I recall one day in the highlands coming upon this unbelievably abject community. All of the wood had been cut for miles around. The people were starving. They had been moved to this area without any means of support or way to survive. It was clear most of them were going to die. Was it wrong to be hunting? Dancing with a dictator this way? There are moral ambiguities out there that leave ethical, thoughtful people just shaking their head. What to do in Zimbabwe is one of those ambiguities. I must note that Ethiopia still has sustainable populations of game and that is of incalculable benefit to current and future generations of Ethiopians. The hunting I did, and others did, is probably responsible in good part for the survival of that game. I do not disparage the sentiments and thoughts of the writers above. They come at their viewpoints honorably. For my part, I am simply humbled by the complexity of the issue. Ironically, Mengistu is living peacefully these days in Harare, breaking bread with Mugabe.... - Don Causey,

Postscript: If you would like to comment on this issue, simply click on the e-mail address below. If there is sufficient interest in this subject, we will create a forum on The Hunting Report web site.

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