Time and time again I read of conservationists’ frustration with demand for horn, scales, and other wildlife body parts used in traditional Asian medicines. This demand is driving species through poaching to extinction. I share that frustration. And I abhor the cruelty and suffering, and the criminal racketeering that supplies the demand. However, campaigners lose my support when they claim that belief in the medicinal power of such items is misplaced ‘because it has no basis in science.’
Rhinoceros horn, ideally still attached to the rhinoceros
The campaign to ban driven grouse shooting began because the pastime is incompatible with the salvation of hen harriers in particular and the protection of raptors in general. Driven grouse shooting requires intensive land use to maximise the grouse available for shooting. The grouse are ‘driven’ at the guns – beaters flush them toward the shooters, a form of ‘canned hunting’. Despite legal protection, these birds of prey keep disappearing from our skies and often turn up poisoned or shot. There is sufficient suitable habitat for over 300 pairs of hen harriers in England and Wales; the actual number of nesting attempts is in single figures – “a tiny handful“; the number of successful breeding attempts is usually zero.
Hen harrier, via Scottish Natural Heritage media library – copyright-free images of English hen harriers are as rare as…the birds themselves
The justification for seeking this ban has widened to include grouse shooting’s other serious negative consequences. Continue reading →