A rat is a pig, is a dog, is a boy
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BBC News Reporter: The leafy Minneapolis suburb that line killing dentist Walter Palmer calls home. A lot of animal lovers and not much sympathy for the now their notorious neighbor.
Neighbor: I think it's somewhat egregious, almost what I would characterize as criminal. That someone would find it enjoyable to just shoot such a beautiful creature. Just so they can say they have a trophy while that's that's pretty heavy.
Earl: People love animals.
Craig: I know it's it's a very touchy issue and I don't know... would you want to live next to the guy that shot that lion?
Earl: Well this episode is going to challenge whatever your views are on this topic.
Craig: So yeah I think it's gonna be good one one of our best.
Earl: Well let's get into it
THE GOOD ROAD PLUG
Craig: Philanthropology is the companion piece to our TV show on public television called The Good Road.
Earl: I'm Earl Bridges
Craig: and I'm Craig Martin, and we capture stories of mercenaries, missionaries and misfits.
Earl: It's a raw look at the messy and complicated business of global philanthropy. And Craig and I set off around the world to places where people are doing good.
Craig: It's Batman not Superman. Check out The Good Road on your local PBS station starting in April.
STORY 1: THE TROPHY HUNTER
Earl: So brother, do you eat meat?
Craig: Do I eat meat? yes, I am not a vegetarian.
Earl: What's the strangest. What's the strangest meat you ever eaten?
Craig: Probably in a place called Sierra Leone in West Africa. I had a monkey. Which was very very hot.
Earl: I didn't expect monkey. Under what circumstances would any human being eat a monkey?
Craig: I know I feel badly about it now. But the missionaries that I was doing some filming with lived in a really remote part of Sierra Leone. And for whatever reason there weren't other sources of protein and that was the village kids would come around with these big monkeys and sell them.
Earl: Yeah you know I kind of want to believe you, but I'm not sure I do. Well in this episode we're going to go delve into the messy ethics of poaching, trophy hunting, killing for food wildlife management. Which, spoiler alert, largely deals with killing animals as well. Yes. So we're going to hit a lot of different things but. But this is going to be an interesting messy epi.
Craig: And like all of these it's it gets messy, like you said.
Earl: Exactly that because in this episode we're going to look at the issue from basically four points of view. We're going to have a Texas gentleman who's a trophy hunter out there. We're going to get a Harvard primatologist. We'll get a Kenyan Wildlife ranger. We're gonna have two knuckleheads who grew up in Bangkok Thailand. And let's just refer to us as "Epicureans".
Craig: This sounds like the setup for a really bad joke
Earl: It's going to be a bad joke
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Earl: We were introduced to our first guest after seeing documentary on CNN called trophy.
Craig: Yeah it actually won an Emmy for outstanding nature documentary last September I believe.
Earl: Yeah, it was great! Philip Glass was an individual that was highlighted in this show who was a trophy hunter and who owns property out in West Texas. And he let people into his world, which again, is and it's it's an area that had no idea really existed.
Philip Glass: Philip Glass. I'm the owner of Half Circle Six ranches and we are near Water Valley Texas. I have several ranches and we raise a Dorper sheep which is interesting because that's another one of my African connections I raised Dorper sheep which is a breed from South Africa and also raised cattle and I raised deer and other exotic animal species antelope from Africa and that sort of thing.
Earl: Now I like Phillip as a person. He was easy to like. Great family guy. He's a good ol boy from Texas. But when you take a look at his and other exotic game hunting web sites in Texas and elsewhere... I got to tell you, it's like seeing something that you never wanted to see for the first time. It is hard to take in.
Earl: In this interview Phillip started discussing his background in the business and believe me this is big business.
Philip: It is a remarkable situation we have in Texas I've served on the board of directors for the exotic wildlife association and been a member for many years and we have an interesting industry here and it's a very powerful industry and it's based on freedom. There are absolutely no regulations to raising these foreign animals. And consequently, we have huge numbers out there and we have a huge industry and we have many many animals that are extinct in their native countries. I personally own animals that are declared extinct in Africa who are they come from yet we have thousands upon thousands in some cases tens of thousands of these animals.
Craig: So dude, he has extinct animals on his property?
Earl: It shocked me. But he has animals which are extinct in their native countries. It really smacks of Jurrasic Park that these crazy animals that sometimes only exist in a ranch in west Texas.
Philip: There's a breeding side to it and a hunting side. Those don't always co-exist. At times they do and at times they don't. In other words there are people who just enjoy raising these animals that are not actually in the hunting business. However, the animal's value is still based on hunting is the baseline value of that animal. But they're incredibly valuable. There's an incredible numbers of people raising them in Texas and from all walks of life as you mentioned. The exotic industry began in Texas in the 1930s with some animals that came out of zoos some African and Indian antelope and deer species that came out to zoos and found the Texas hill country to be a suitable habitat. And they did well, they lived, they grew. They had babies. They they did very well. So the exotic industry in Texas is very old.
Earl: Did you know that this existed. I'm the old Baylor boy. You'll never got liquored up went out the Black Wildebeest tipping?
Craig: Not that I can recall but again it might have been the liquor. But I do know plenty of people who grew up hunting. We don't.
Earl: But we both do and this is very much Philip stories as well. This has been part of his family tradition for a very long time.
Philip: People ask me that all the time especially with my involvement in this film and or when I started hunting in groups of hunters sit around and ask you one another when did you start hunting. Well I don't have that answer. Hunting is part of my culture. It wasn't a choice. I didn't start hunting. I was born hunting. I've had it since I was a little child. And of course having three older brothers that I looked up to that all hunted that probably was a big influence. But I never had the day when I made the conscious decision to go hunting. So we've been here since the 1880s my grandfather my great grandfather came here from North Carolina in the 1880s and started a ranching operation with cattle and eventually sheep. And my family's been here ever since. So we have a long long tradition of living out here and raising animals. And of course hunting as well. And hunting is just part of our family tradition and culture. And it's a big part of what we do.
Earl: So hunting is not only his family tradition. In reality it's everyone's family tradition. Mankind has been hunting and killing and eating animals for our whole existence. But what happens to the meat of an exotic animal that gets killed.
Philip: It is the number one question I get when I speak at these different events. The number one question is Where does the meat go? And whether you're here in Texas with a deer which we enjoy venison. We actually do a lot of deer harvesting due to our management scheme so we can't eat it all. So we give some away to needy people or to our local food bank. And then you take the story of travelling overseas and you're oftentimes in places where people are very protein deficient. And so it's almost a silly question to ask what happens to the meat overseas because the meat is a treasured thing amongst a group of people who eat corn meal every day. Now that protein is very well received and in a real joy for us as hunters to get to see that meat used and distributed by needy people.
Craig: Yeah. Well if God didn't want us to eat meat he wouldn't have made it so damn delicious.
Earl: And I totally understand the "meat is food" argument. But hunting exotic animals. It's not about satisfying your craving for a Thompson gazelle burger with a side of Dik Dik.
Craig: So you know I mean it's true. But you know for me I've been out and seen a lot of these animals out in the wild and filmed them and stuff and you don't have to kill these big beautiful majestic animals for food.
Earl: Right. Even if they have an interesting kind of hide pattern and impressive horns? Yeah but again there's there's also the argument of hunting is a sport.
Philip: It's complicated to get some of these places. Some of these places will have to plan to hire a charter plane to get us there because the areas are so remote. But planning and preparing yourself is a big part of it. So physical training that's a big part of it. You know there's some training with shooting. For me personally, I've been to a safari shooting school down in the Texas hill country. That's a wonderful experience that truly prepares a person because you are going into a dangerous situation and you have the responsibility to be as prepared physically mentally and with your shooting skills as you can possibly be in a person like me who is not going to take that lightly I'm going to be prepared.
Earl: This hunting argument for me is really only limited to certain animals like not adorable Hedgehogs and Koala bears or my golden retriever my daughter's horse.
Philip: Some people think that all animals or pets and that's really a silly misinformed way to go through life. And certainly no way to manage wildlife to treat them as pets to treat them as individuals. I have pets. I have many many pets and I love my pets. And that's a different experience there with the animals. Having a pet versus managing wildlife or managing livestock. And we have livestock that we get attached to. You know the funny saying as you don't want to eat anything that's had a name. You know if you have a lamb that you've raised and the kids have gotten to know that's a little difficult. And I understand that and I'm sensitive to people's feelings about animals. But the point is I have a different relationship with animals than the average person. You know I live with the animals. You know I raise them, I care for them. And of course I also hunt them. So I'm just a part of the animals world in a way that is very different than the average person.
Craig: So I get it. Some animals or pets or they're too adorable to harvest for good but most of this is not in dispute. You don't have large membership organizations who are fighting for the right to breed raise and hunt poodles or Koala bears.
Earl: That's right. On the other hand you do have people that are advocating for trophy hunts. I mean they're fighting for their rights. You kill an elephant lion cheetah or any of those other animals that we saw in those. So that's where I think you pivot towards this economic argument. And quite frankly, that seems to be a stronger argument. And that really converges with the economics of wildlife management and this kind of conservation argument for trophy hunting.
Philip: I like to tell people a story about the statistics about just right here at home in North America and 1900 we estimated we had half a million whitetail deer in all of North America. Now we harvest half a million just in Texas. The whitetail deer success story is one that kind of gets forgotten because they're so common. But we can't forget that you know a century ago we had some we had some problems with wildlife here in this country. And Hunter stepped up. We put in the Pittman-Robertson act where we taxed ourselves. We took that money and now we find somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of these wildlife agencies here in the United States with this money. And the success stories are wonderful that we've achieved here in North America. And now this same model is being used around the world. And we look at places like South Africa where hunting was no big deal back in the 1950s and 60s that was just livestock country. If you had game on your ranch you shot them because they're competing with your sheep. Now the hunting business there is huge in the ownership and the management of wildlife in these wild lands is amazing. They went from a million head of game in the 50s to over 25 many and now just in the country of South Africa alone. And so that is only due to hunting and hunting economics. It's not due to anything else. Economics of hunting being applied around the world is making a really big difference. There's new examples. We've got the Axis deer in Texas the one that I raise and we've got between five and ten thousand depending on who's counting. They're extinct in Africa completely extinct. There's a funny wild goat in Central Asia. This nearly was nearly extinct. It's called the Markhor. Most people who are ringing the bell for animal rights and trying to stop hunting wouldn't know what a Markhor was. They would know that demonstrate a Markhor and a mule to be honest with you. The Markhor has doubled in population and some of those countries just in the last few years just because of a hunting program that's been put in. So we have a wonderful track record of success with this model of hunting as a conservation tool.
Earl: It's hard to argue with him on the success.
Philip: I think they should understand that the population of elephants in Namibia is at an all time high. They should understand the population of lions in Zimbabwe is increasing the population of elephants in Zimbabwe is at an all time high. They're actually overrun. Botswana is overrun with elephants. And we need to manage animals. Part of managing animals is hunting.
STORY 2: The Kenyan Game Ranger
Craig: So yeah. And right in the middle of this tension between hunters ranchers farmers and encroaching civilization are people like Craig Millar of The Big like foundation.
Earl: I mean you see Craig Millar in our other podcasts and he actually shows up in a couple of our episodes on the television show The Good Road. He is in charge of security for the Big Life Foundation a part of the team that tries to mitigate human animal conflict.
Craig Millar: So the role of big life in these areas is to do so under my department which is the security is is to provide wildlife security and prevent poaching from happening. I'm going to get human wildlife conflict. But you know the whole ethos behind Big Life is to drive meaningful benefits for the local people through wildlife. If wildlife is going to have a future here. And obviously it has to mean economic returns in the long run.
Earl: What animals are you guys protecting?
Craig Millar: Pretty much everything within the rules. Obviously pay more attention to "high value" species which are elephant, lion, leopard etc. stuff where the trophies. Essentially that that are then entered into the illegal wildlife trade. In Kenya it's illegal to kill any of those.
Earl: So even the traditional tribes like the Maasai and people like that are still prevented from killing?
Craig Millar: It really depends again on the certain sort of situation you get guys who come in from Tanzania you know fully armed trying to get as many elephant as they can. We know we've got a case with eleven were shot on one thing. But then you get a farmer who farms being squashed by elephants. I mean sort of the spear to scare them and the elephant dies. You don't charge him under poaching.
Earl: So I mean it's a messy business it's a messy business, but why do you do it?
Craig Millar: I mean, I've always loved wildlife growing up. The first job I wanted to be was a Game Ranger but very different to what I thought a Game Ranger was. In those early days.
Craig: So the fact is that when these exotic animals and humans interact it oftentimes turns out poorly for both.
Earl: Totally. And we saw that with Tim, the largest elephant. He tramps into a field of watermelons and they throw a spear at him and next thing you know you've injured the world's largest elephant.
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STORY 3: The Primatologist
Earl: Let's address the ethics of killing these animals. Or really any animal. I think very few people in the world would advocate for killing kittens.
Craig: Yeah you don't f**k with cats.
Earl: Rule number zero. But I mean and there's other things. What would you would you kill? What would you kill?
Craig: I wouldn't kill a dog and eat it. And but there are cultures around the world to do. And horses you know our culture.
Earl: I mean you could go to Belgium and see the same thing.
Craig: Yeah. I mean it's very popular in certain countries
Earl: ...or Sierra Leone with monkeys. Well I thought we should get some scientific basis for this ethical argument against killing animals so I turn to Christine Webb who's now a fellow at Harvard's Department of Human Evolutionary biology.
Christine: So I study primate behavior with a specific focus on primate social behavior. The reason why I got into what I do, and I think this is probably not unique to me but maybe shared amongst many in my field, for a deep love interest or curiosity about animals. And then along with that comes a lot of other questions related to ethics and I think yeah. It doesn't operate in isolation from academia. For me it's really where it started was was an interest and love and appreciation for animals.
Earl: So it's interesting that she has probably visited some of the exact same places as Phillip. I mean they came at it from different areas but they're in the Tsavo, they're in Kenya, they're looking at the same place and what they end up with is very different perspectives.
Christine: When I started college I had my first experience in Africa going on safari with my parents, the first of many actually, I was very lucky to kind of get exposure around the time that I was getting interested in some of these questions and thinking about what I wanted to do career wise. And then yeah I guess probably after that first trip to Africa we went to the Maasai Mara and followed the Great Migration. I knew that this is where my heart is.
Earl: What I find most fascinating about her research on the similarities of humans and animals really starts to blur that difference between us as a species.
Christine: One topic that I've gotten more and more interested in is empathy. And we're defining empathy has the capacity to share and understand the thoughts and the feelings of others. And in animals the best behavioral marker we have of empathy is known as consolation behavior. So that's essentially when say there's a conflict between two individuals. And the victim of that conflict who is clearly distressed might be approached by a third individual and offered kind of some reassuring contact. So that is a behavior maybe we can recognize in our own species and has kind of this functional label "consolation" because it actually does serve to relieve the victim's distress. So we've looked at this in chimpanzees, and originally, I guess the thought was that it was something that only the "great apes" showed. But now it's been documented quite widely across the animal kingdom.
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Craig: Yeah, I mean looking back, it's funny but eating the monkey is kind of disturbing because we are so similar to animals in many ways including how we interact with each other.
Earl: And again what's more profound to me was the fact that we think of humans versus animals and animals being this homogenous group. The reality is animals have many individual characteristics just like humans. We're all humans but just like these two, we see the world in a very different light and we act differently.
Christine: The idea being that after the discovery of empathy and Constellation these types of empathy-driven behaviors and or animals. One kind of follow up question is that hadn't been addressed as yet. I was there variation in the degree to which different individuals expressed these empathetic behaviors and so we wanted to look at that. And it turns out that there is substantial individual variation in consolation behaviors over the lifetime and that those tendencies tend to be relatively stable indicating that individuals when they're young if they're more empathic they tend to develop into adults who are also more empathic. And that's very much consistent with the human literature on the topic of empathy which suggests that it's kind of can be seen as a stable individual difference or a personality trait.
Craig: Well that's the looking back that's kind of the disturbing part about me eating the monkey. Because it turns out we are very similar to animals on the one hand yet very different from each other as humans. It's a really interesting study Christine is spiritual Philip is religious. She has a deep respect for animals and so does Philip.
Earl:. I mean they seem very similar similar except for the fact that she has in her role an appreciation for the role of conservation in a slightly more compassionate way.
Christine: I have a colleague who has kind of coined this term it was partly responsible for coining this term "compassionate conservatio"n which is all about kind of trying to understand the value of an individual organism. Because you know trophy hunting is one thing. But even within the field of conservation more generally there's a lot of culling of the animal populations that that takes place. And you know "compassionate conservation" is kind of trying to blend animal welfare approaches that emphasize the individual and qualities of the individual. And the value of an individual and appease that kind of with maybe conservation biologists who tend to focus more on species and populations. And so I think you know even within those fields areas that also this conversation happening around. Yes. How do we place particular value on an individual life and what does that mean.
Earl: I just find it interesting that there's quite a bit of overlap here. I mean in the understanding of the issues and yet they have a starkly different perspective. First, let's listen to Christine discuss hunting and zoos.
Christine: I think a lot of the kind of arguments that these "pro trophy hunters" make or they resonate with some of the arguments that zoos make about you know the "greater good". And where a lot of the money that these zoos, or that trophy hunting, is generating where that's going. And at the same time when you have this opposing view or maybe this tension with the idea of zoos or trophy hunters as yet perpetuating this kind of notion of what animals are for. And our relationship to animals. And how they are used and I absolutely put way more value on on that. So if you want my opinion on on trophy hunting I think it's wrong. If you want my opinion on zoos I think they are changing faster than I thought. So I feel very much kind of sympathetic to your view that there always can be a case made for something. But when the morality is kind of goes on to the other side that that's where my that's where kind of the tipping point will will be for me.
Craig: Okay. And now here's a little bit about Philip describing his first hunt.
Philip: You know there's just a range of emotions and so you're you're planning you're hunting your tracking and then you get the chance to actually get on that animal and take that shot. That I'm describing for you as being something that's important to be prepared to make a quality shot. To do it in a proper manner. And then, there it is. There you've got the animal. And you get to go over to it, and take a look at it. And see how amazing and wonderfully created it is. And then you have your moment with it and pay your respects. And then, of course, if you're in Africa, then the people are ready for some meat. So the joy of getting to share that kill if you will with those people is just quite an experience and one that I wish that more people could could get the chance to to be a part of.
THE WRAP UP
Earl: Craig what do you think, what would Jesus do?
Craig: I think Jesus would not kill large.
Earl: Really? I mean, you know it because we both come from like the missionary families and things like that. What's the argument on the religious side?
Craig: You know I just this idea that religiously we have dominion over the animals is one of those things that gets pulled out and drawn out. But you know what. There were people who made arguments for slavery because of exerting things from the Bible.
Earl: Right. Well you here in this next thing how Philip feels about it from a religious perspective. And it's not a surprise
Philip: You know for me I revere God's creation. You know as a Christian I believe that God created all these animals. A slug didn't crawl up out of the ocean and "pop", turned into a lion. Sorry it didn't happen. God created that lion. And when I look at that lion and felt that lion. When I got the chance to look at it, and feel of it, I just knew it was it was perfectly made it was made by God. And people say well how can you how can you hunt these animals if God made them or God. God gave us the ability and the responsibility to rule over all of the animals. In other words to manage them. And to be it when we have the right to use them. So for me as a believer I don't believe that there's anything wrong about hunting. Again there's probably people that do things wrong as they're hunting but hunting in general there's nothing wrong with it. From a religious standpoint.
Craig: Well you know like in the podcast today that we've said it before it's a messy business
Earl: it's a messy business, and again, it's what surprises me is that we're all people we're looking at the same thing and yet we see it very differently. That's not different than the binary divisions that we have in the world today. We look at the same events and we see it very differently. Interesting study.
Earl: So check out our Web site, www.philanthropology.tv. And there you're going to find: behind the scenes, extended interviews, and some just funny stuff that Craig and I have done to get into.
Earl: All right. In the next episode of Philanthropology we're going to get into education!
Earl: Bueller? Bueller?
Craig: No honestly it's one of the coolest episodes in a lot of ways. Because we talk with Patrick Moynihan who is this Catholic missionary who has all these controversial ideas and things and then Dr. Susan Kessler at a title 1 school in Nashville
Earl: Who doesn't mind standing up to Congress.
Craig: There's a there's a hilarious bit at the beginning of the podcast that you have to listen for you're going to laugh your butt off.
Earl: I can't wait.
Earl: The Philanthropology podcast is recorded at In Your Ear studio in Richmond, Virginia. With direction from producer Carlos Chafin. Engineering help from Andrea St
Craig: Earl and I also get creative direction from Andy Duensing, The Good Road, public television show.
Earl: We also want to thank all our "do-gooders" who gave us their time support and grey matter.
Craig: And finally we want to thank our original investors in all of this. Our wives and kids. Specifically our wives, who put up with us. Pam Bridges and Erika Martin.
Earl: ...And to all the girls I've loved before...
Earl: I just want to point out one section on this Web site. Craig if you take a look at it this is, did you know you can go kangaroo hunting?
Craig: I mean the idea of that. Just sorry.
Earl: You've got a picture of the husband and his wife sitting next to a kangaroo that they just killed. Here's what they say about kangaroos can be hunted legally year round in Texas believe it or not it's illegal to recreationally hunt kangaroos in Australia
Craig: ...like that's a point of pride.
Earl: I mean, come on down to West Texas! And look at some of the other things. if you look a little bit further down. I mean it's it's in this case seven thousand bucks you get field dressing one hundred percent opportunity guaranteed meaning that you'll get your shot
Craig: firearm and ammunition provided, if needed.
Earl: That's right. And you can land your private jet on there fifty eight hundred fully lighted runway. I mean who are these people. It's an exclusive it's all the better all inclusive beverages on a hunting guide. You know you get some other stuff. Here's what. Look at the interesting kangaroo hunting information. We've had Hunters fly all the way from Australia to hunt kangaroo at our ranch due to it being illegal elsewhere. Female kangaroos have three vaginas. Why would you kill that?
Craig: A herd of kangaroos is called a "mob". Well maybe that mob should pack heat, and fire back.
Earl: Oh my gosh. And in Australia kangaroos outnumber humans two to one. But I don't know what that means. Apparently they're not killing enough kangaroos! Oh brother...
Craig: and it's super relevant right now with all the fires and stuff and you see these animals like escaping the fires in Australia. But here in West Texas, we just shoot them.
Earl: We don't stop in West Texas