Conservation has gone through many changes over the years, from ignorance in the beginning, through long periods of cavalier incompetence, to the present period of what could be termed industrial codswallop. Conflicts of conscience have been nicely done away with by putting a price tag on any unit of nature found useful for commercial exploitation, and then telling society they cannot do without it.
That conservation is best known for its long history of failure is understandable. Perhaps we did not properly understand that famous injunction about multiplying, or at least took it too literally! For while we haven’t done badly in that department, we haven’t done nearly as well with managing the birds, fish and animals. The effect has resulted in the increase of one and the decrease of the others. Maybe we haven’t managed the whole thing too well.
Classically, social illusions cloud the issues of recognition, for we are constantly urged to be content with fiddling in the shadows and thrown the odd platitude of how the ever caring champions of conservation saved a worm from a terrible fate at the hands of some half boozed fisherman.
What is bewildering, is that society is so easily hoodwinked by tales similarly exploited by writers of ‘Boys Own Adventure’ all around them the rape goes on, compounded by default or; without recognizing the moral dimensions at stake.
That there exists an overall problem of some magnitude is undeniable, and the ethos of conservation needs to be clearly understood by every one of us, and that the base for good conservation is the land ethos. This was expressed so well by Aldo Leopold with his profound message, ‘Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left’.
At least today our hunting ethics and codes are characterised by a sense of ecological responsibility. Contemporary practices reflect this growing concern and underline hunter conservation to assure the potential of aspirations of future generations.
Ultimately it is the land and the animals that matter and taking into account the present situation and criterion, because we cannot go back! Conservation has to mean the development and growth of public resources while harvesting in a reasonable manner. Broadly, this involves the urgent retention of existing wildlife habitats and the restoration of those habitats which have almost been destroyed by lack of thought or imagination. It does not mean the developing of a system to eke out existing resources for the next few years or until we have nothing left.
The responsibility for making conservation work properly is not for Government alone. All individuals and groups of individuals must work together with Government to make inroads into this immense and demanding problem. Conservation means managing both the user and the resource, in a way that allows the use to continue indefinitely. You have a part to play! Do it well.