The letter below was copied to me by an Alaskan hunter.


What made the letter particularly meaningful is that just this week something terrible happened. When you read the letter below, you will see a reference to gin traps and how terrible they are. And the link you may ask?  It was just this week that a game-farming family inadvertently felt the tragic impact of such a poacher’s gin trap.


A tremendous man, from all reports, someone devoted to uplifting communities and wildlife, was killed by a buffalo. The buffalo had fallen victim to one of the impoverished rural poachers’ gin traps. Wounded, suffering, and needing to be put out of its misery, the belligerent beast took out its anger and pain on the very person on a mission to help end its suffering. Digby Bristow was the target of the buffalo’s vengeance as it pummeled him – his wife Vanessa’s words in her heartfelt recount of what happened that fateful day just before Christmas.


While the taking of a life, the killing of an animal is hard to understand, and some even display delight in the act, and is what jars with the public in general, it is only a component of the hunt itself. The letter below is a long read, so just keep scrolling if you are busy.


Letter to UK Parliament regarding the Ban the Import of African Animals

Dear MP Christopher Chope,


After reading the article by Dr. John Ledger in the latest issue of “African Hunting Gazette” I was greatly disturbed to see a Bill by the UK Parliament to Ban the Import of African Animals.


It is with great respect to you after reading bios about you from different sources that you are a champion against such a Bill and that you have in the past been a champion against the many “New Age Ideas” that attempt to alter and destroy our natural world.


There have been times as a hunter that I have looked upon an animal that I have killed and wonder how I could take the life of such a beautiful creature. But I believe mankind should be overseers of our natural heritage, including the environment of our planet, the husbandry of our ecosystem, and the common-sense use of fossil fuels, utilized for man’s benefit. Until there is a better energy source, fossil fuel should still be our best choice for it is still in great supply!


The people of Africa are beneficiaries of those that come to hunt on their soil. The dollars that come to them by way of travel, licenses, permits, taxes, game meat, and trophy fees each help to educate local communities about the natural fauna and flora, and the importance of habitat in which they live within.

Normally these people in rural villages are very poor that have small gardens that will supply them with the food that will carry them through each day and each season. An elephant or herds of antelope that come to feed on their gardens, become an enemy that must be dealt with. Some may be shot with crude weapons, caught in gin traps, or taken with snares. Without education, their value as a renewable game species is unknown to them.


When African Countries open blocks to hunters, the benefits to the rural people are tremendous. The funds that are immediately procured become sources of income for game departments that fund species surveys, game counts, boreholes for healthy drinking water in the villages where many have died from disease-ridden water supplies. Those in these villages become part of poaching patrols.  Money is used to build schools that will educate their children about the animals that live around them.


A new world that suddenly opens to them, ideas become the creation of dreams to becoming doctors, seeing a world that was never envisioned.


Those people that had their gardens raided, will begin to see meat being delivered to their villages, and with this new resource of protein that they can depend on, begin to take an interest in the way animals will be harvested that will not only supply food for their families, but will be a dependable and renewable resource for them in the future.


If this Bill to Ban the Import of African Animals is passed, it will destroy the wildlife species like never before. Who will fund the needy when wildlife no longer has a spoken voice, from those that benefited the most?


Many of the Wildlife Parks in Africa have been saved from complete habitat destruction by those that come from abroad – to hunt. The hunting blocks, of course, are outside of these parks, but as habitat decreases many species leave to forage where habitat is plentiful. Because Animal Rights organizations will not allow the animals in these parks to be culled, the destruction of these guarded habitats becomes useless to provide life to the species living within them.


Without wise management of our natural world that is provided for now by hunters’ dollars and certainly not by those that cry foul yet offer nothing to the poor African people that ought to benefit, the environment and its wildlife will suffer.


There are those that come to my home and see animals I have hunted in Africa and elsewhere. There are some that shake their heads, for they do not understand. But when I can explain about the coloration of animal skins, the unique shape of eyes, lips, and horns, some begin to understand from a fresh perspective.

I tell them about a person with a strange name they have never heard before, our tracker who we followed. I tell them about the bent stick he used to point to a hoof-print barely visible in dry and dusty ground among dozens of others, and as I recall my memories I am transported back to that place where warm winds blow and the sweet soft calls from doves are carried in those warm currents of air. A place where the joy I felt was indescribable, where calming peace captivated me in a place like no other.


I will recall how wonderfully surprised I was when this man pointed to the direction the animal had suddenly turned, for there was nothing to show in the sand or grass that I could see. But he smiled and nodded.


These wonderful trackers became masters of these skills when they were but young boys when they took charge of the village cattle into fields, through jungle and down into river bottoms among ferocious predators, when the rainy season came, with flashes of lightening from thunderstorms of black clouds and racing wind and pounding rain.

I sadly recall that some of these great men I hunted with died at a young age because of HIV/AIDs and other diseases that could not be warded off because their communities were remote and poor. There were no doctors, so none came.


Like the animals that have such coloration and form, the indigenous African people are different in color and cultures from our own but are beautiful and unique. They have seen what hunters’ dollars have brought into their lives, and they have learned the importance these game animals now have, and what has been added to their lives and their families that now have schools and health clinics. They have honor. They have very little, but they love their families, as we do ours.


They know if they let the game animals propagate, that the oldest males will be harvested, the resource will continue, and the meat and trophy fees will make their villages prosper.


We proclaim that our world today is superior to that of the past, but still the horn of the rhino and the tusk of the elephants have no regulated legal trade. Yet poaching has continued, with black markets stealing the lives of these animals, a practice that will continue again and again until those animals are just pictures in a book.


There will be no one to count the missing dead, for the game departments will close without funding to maintain the resource.


Some nations stopped hunting and brought in people with cameras. But photo safaris travel the same track day after day, giving wild animals no peace to live as people seek their pictures relentlessly, day after day.


The habitat loss becomes tremendous with roads and bridges. Non-hunters pay no trophy fees that would fund game departments or poaching patrols. Photo Safaris supply no protein to the villagers who have lost their gardens to animals that no longer are managed or cared for. They receive no funding. They receive no meat.


There are those that claim that Kenya is the model African country because it no longer allows organized hunting. But when you talk to those rural people that lived there before 1977, they will tell you a different story.


This planet is ours, we can preserve it or let it fall into destruction. True hunters, those that seek our world’s wild places, hunt not just to kill or take away, but come to preserve those things that should be most precious to each of us.


How wonderful if we could each hand over to those that come after we have gone, this most incredible natural world gifted to us.


Hunters’ dollars fund wildlife!


My Best Regards,

Norman Thomas