If 5 years ago someone asked me whether hunting is good for the environment or not, I would have answered “No” with a straight face. But now that I understand how hunting affects the ecosystem, giving the answer to this question has become much difficult. Even though I understand how hunting helps the environment, it is not that easy to explain this to others.
Before I try to explain how hunting helps the environment, there are some things you should understand.
What do we mean by “helping the environment”?
If I am about to explain how hunters help the environment, I should let you know what I mean by “helping the environment”.
Well, “helping the environment” just means maintaining the balance.
What balance did you ask?
The balance of the ecosystem.
We all know what the ecosystem is. We all learned it in high school or college. If I am to give you a proper definition – ecosystem will be a community of all the living organisms of this world in conjunction with the all nonliving components of their environment where the living organisms and the nonliving organisms are interacting as a whole system.
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But if you want a more approachable explanation of this, let me explain with an example. Let’s say from today, all the grass or plant-eating animals in an African Savanna living their best life that is, no lions, tigers, cheetahs or any other predator is hunting them and they are not dying by the natural causes too. So, what will happen from 2 years, 5 years, 10 years or 20 years from now?
Extinction of what? Almost every species on that area. So what will happen is – as the number of grass eating species or herbivorous land mammals starts to increase without any death by accidents, prey or natural causes, sooner or later, the grass, herbs or the plants will start to end because the plants won’t be able to grow as fast as the number of herbivorous land mammal will increase. The birth rate of the herbivorous land mammals will increase exponentially and soon there will be no food for all the herbivorous animals. Now, these land mammals who live on plant life will start to die of hunger and within a few days or weeks, at most, they will all die. That means, extinction of these species. Also, as all the plants are gone from that area, there won’t be any seed for new plants to grow so other bird species who lived on these plants will also die. Then all the species that were living on the birds as their prey will die too and sooner than later, all the other species in the food chain will decimate from the face of the earth.
By “helping the environment”, I mean to prevent this from happening.
Now, let’s get into how hunters help the environment
1. Hunting helps maintain the balance of the ecosystem in a way
As I have explained before, the balance of all the living beings on this planet is very important for everyone to survive, even for humans and hunting ensures this balance.
In some areas of the world, there are certain species that have outgrown their habitat and interfering with other species’ habitat, food, and mating. Hunting those outgrown species maintain a balance in our environment, contributing to the integrity of the ecosystem.
2. Hunting helps in making the wildlife diversified
When one species outgrows its habitat and disrupt the ecosystem, it endangers other species on its area.
By hunting, not only the overgrown species are kept in check but also the sustainability of other species in those areas is ensured. This is how the diversity of that area is maintained.
3. Hunting keeps the endangered species safe
Let’s turn the table from the example I presented before. This time, all the predators or the carnivorous animals in that African savanna stopped dying by other animals or for natural causes. So, what will happen in this case?
Soon, the number of deer, buffaloes and other preys of those predators will start to decrease. At a time, those species will be considered as an endangered species and then they will extinct.
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This dominance of one species over the other is a reason for the global extinction of many species. Surely the other reasons for extinction like natural disasters, nonevolving-physiology, etc. are prominent. But many modern era extinctions have a lot to do with “being preyed”.
By identifying what dominant species are endangering the endangered species hunting can solve the problem of overgrown species.
4. Hunting helps bird-watchers, hikers and ecologists
This might come as a shock to you but the hunting or specifically, the hunters, help hikers, birdwatchers and ecologists.
Hikers want a clear path to enjoying nature without worrying about the wild predators too much. Again, a birdwatcher might want a diversified array of birds in a sample area. In a way, hunting is helping all of them without them even realizing the facts.
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Is hunting “all good”?
The answer is “NO”.
With all the good things that hunting does for the environment, it does some horrible things too in the process. But before I mention the adverse effects of hunting in the environment, I should make it clear that these examples are for times when hunting is done wrong.
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First of all, while hunting saves the endangered species, often it is the reason for endangering a species too. It is not uncommon that hunters caused the extinction of a species from a particular area if not their global extinction. Also, hunters created a sense of fear among the animals which can cause them to become more violent towards any humans. But at a grand scale, these are insignificant and only happens when hunters are not abiding local authorities and their restrictions.
As long as hunters are following the instructions on hunting by the authorities, hunting cannot be harmful to the environment. Instead, it only helps the environment by maintaining the balance, ensuring diversity and by saving wildlife.