For decades Landrover has been an extremely popular vehicle with wildlife conservation agencies, hunters and PH’s in Africa. These organizations and people are therefore an important target group for the company. In some countries Landrover dealers organize special events for hunters or offer vehicles that are specially equipped for hunting.
Interesting enough the Landrover Company has selected the “Born Free Foundation”, a pronounced British anti-hunting NGO as its “primary global conservation partner”. According to the company’s website “Landrover is committed to provide the Foundation with practical help by supplying vehicles as well as financial backing for the next five years, reflecting its integrated approach to building global sustainability.”
Like most animal welfare groups, Born Free does only limited practical conservation work. It concentrates on animal welfare activities and also lobbies for its welfare objectives including denouncing hunting. In its own words the Foundation “fights to end this glorified ‘sport’”.
As an example for its animal welfare work six landrovers from the UK were used to transport a circus lion from a resort in Belgium to Schiphol airport. The poor animal was flown to Lilongwe in Malawi. There it was greeted by another landrover fleet which had come all the way from distant Lusaka in Zambia. Then the lion was driven to a nearby resort. There it is living now, again behind fences in a kind of zoo. Lion Simba (a very inventive name for a lion), as it was called, shares now this new confinement with a lion from Romania. It is unknown whether these two European lions find African fences more pleasant than European bars. It is also unknown whether this type of moving misused creatures around the world is only a publicity stunt to collect donations for Born Free or whether this is the “integrated approach to building global sustainability” Landrover speaks of on its website.
The little that Born Free does around the globe for conservation is at the same time used as a door opener for its anti-hunting propaganda and its efforts to close hunting. Also on CITES meetings, the Foundation is active to rally support against pro-wildlife-use decisions and to organize by different means votes for this cause.
On its website the Foundation agitates against hunting in Africa and killing game in “cold blood” and taking “grotesque trophies” home. Born Free concludes „that the ethical, social and biological problems associated with trophy hunting far outweigh any positive contribution the industry can possibly make.“ The Foundation is also active to put pressures on Governments to ban trophy imports. In 1993 the Foundation was instrumental to establish the so-called „Species Survival Network“, a coalition of animal welfare organizations, which works against wildlife utilization including hunting. Born Free’s President is also the President of the network.
Hunting is controversially discussed in the public. We as hunters know this. We are therefore all the time stipulated to evaluate what we are doing and to secure that our hunting is sustainable, ethical and positive for biodiversity in line with the relevant international conventions. African Indaba is a good example how hunters do not hesitate to criticize occurrences, which do not come up to accepted international hunting standards. We do not expect from a company like Landrover to agree with hunting as a way of sustainably utilizing natural resources and thereby contributing to species conservation and rural livelihoods alike. However, it is difficult to accept that an equally controversial anti-sustainable-use pressure group that tries to destroy hunting gets financed from the revenues of the landrovers, which also we hunters buy.
If you drive a landrover or plan to buy one, you may have a few questions to your local dealer.
Author: Rolf D Baldus