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The hunting is an activity, which according to the prevailing opinion of modern anthropology, was the main factor for the human development from mammal into a thinking human being. The adoption of more complex techniques, arms and tools for more productive hunting, differentiated human from other mammals of that era and helped to develop, through centuries, an evolved brain. Today itís acceptable, that mankind would not have the same chance, if we had remained mainly vegetarians. For this our "brothers" herbivorous mammals are still remaining in, almost, the same biological condition. Later on (about 25-30.000 years ago), realising the essential value of hunting, human began to attribute a divine entity to hunting, drawing hunting scenes of unrivalled art in caves, which used in religious and mystic ceremonies. Such hunting scenes are portrayed on stone drawings of the Palaeolithic Age, also in Hellas, in which appear the ways and tools that were used for hunting.

The role of hunting today Hunting met its peak of "divine" significance in ancient Hellas. Innumerable fabulous heroes constituted for centuries the example for the education of youngsters, because of, mainly, the exceptional hunting skills of them. Those skills were also considered as martial faculties and "divine" bravery as well. Young people in ancient Hellas were trained in the dexterity of hunting, along with literature and the art of war. Because of the importance of hunting in ancient society, it was preserved by the Goddess Artemis, being a hunter herself. Of course not only for itís nutritional value, because agriculture and livestock-farming had already been developed, but mainly for its educational value, while for the same reasons it was the subject of ancient author's masterwork like Xenofon, Aristotle and others. After the fall of the Hellenic democratic society and then the intensification of agriculture and livestock-farming, hunting lost its educational and "divine" status and became a sport (Roman Empire Era) and later it was the pastime only for the upper class of the society (Medieval Era - Renaissance), with particular, however, importance, as it appears mainly from the innumerable masterpieces of art that has been inspired by hunting themes. Afterwards the French Revolution, hunting is no more the privilege of the few upper class citizens and progressively will expand in all social classes. That expansion, however, came, unfortunately, in a period of time when the man was enjoying the power that gave him the continuously evolving technology, and he ignores completely the environment and the laws of nature, with an arrogance that becomes particularly perceptible in the first appearing industrial territories and in the colonies, where the "civilisation" was accompanied by uncontrollable and devastating interventions in the environment, with disastrous results for the fauna. The enormous demographic explosion of mankind is certainly the main cause for the traditional biotope destruction. The continuously search for more vital space and more resources of food and energy is continued even today by mankind who extends continuously its vital space against the fauna and flora of our planet. Enormous wildernesses are being built (for several purposes), forests are vanishing daily in an effort of finding new land for us, not only in the third world countries but also in the heart of the industrial and developed countries. The "development" was and still is the "slogan" that led to the disappearance of countless biotopes with proportional reduction or even disappearance of many species. Similar realignments and disappearances of millions of species, occurred of course also in the past before the appearance of humans, but that happened during many thousands of years and not in such a short, for our planetís biological clock, period of time. The balance in nature never existed with the meaning that even today is supported by the various ecological organisations. The biosphere is continuously renewed and new species appears occupying the biological place of other species that didnít accomplish to adapt to the changes.

Last decades the interest for the protection of environment influences the way of thought of more and more people (unfortunately not their way of life, essentially). Millions of people participate in ecological organisations with undeniably decent intentions, but, in their majority, are unaware of the basic "rules" and the results of scientific researches that have been shaped after years of studies. All the scientifically proven studies come to the conclusion that without human intervention itís impossible the restoration of any biotope that has already been degraded. The absolute isolation from any human activity or intervention that propose most ecological organisations for, almost, the entire planet, would probably be a solution for the relatively "untouched" territories of our planet, where minimum or no presence and activity of people has taken place. However, such decisions unfortunately cannot be applied because of the importance of energy sources and an important raw material that are "hidden" in such lands, and because of the enormous profit that yields their exploitation. Therefore a "closed" natural system that has suffered alterations, can not survive without scientific study, planning and interventions. Wherever was experimented something similar, it was a failure with dramatic results for the local fauna and flora. There are known certain examples. For instance, in America and in the state of Wisconsin, was prohibited every human presence and intervention in an enormous forested area. Deer and roe deer reproduced in astonishing rates the first years and the ecological organisations were celebrating! However, their enormous population became uncontrollable by local predators and the dense forests began denuded and in a few years, poor animals passed away at hundreds from starvation and illnesses. The same also happened in a Switzerlandís canton where the hunting was prohibited. The irony was that the same authorities who prohibited hunting there, later needed the paid services of hunters in order to decrease the enormous number of those animals that were denuding the forests of that Another example that projects in an elegant way the important role of hunting, not only in controlling the wild life populations and even the salvation of animals and human populations of territories, is the programmed hunting in the national parks of Africa. There, just a few years ago, those huge "protected" areas of national parks of those undeveloped countries, despite their perfect biotopes, couldnít support not only the local villagers, but also the animals as well that were decimating by residentís "poaching". Despite the desperate efforts of international organisations that sent there hundreds of representatives with money and foods, they couldnít convince the residents to preserve the wild animals instead of killing them. The residents took the animals for food and money of the exploitation of bones, skins etc., but also as an "obstacle" in their extension in new lands. No one was willing to risk his life in a confrontation with poachers. When hunting programs began they saw the profit! A hunting program is worked out for each area, and estimates the number of animals and the species that will be hunt by hunters all over the world who are willing to pay out huge sums for hunting trophies. The income is enough not only for the growth of villages but also for the maintenance of trained game guards who will ensure a suitable number of animals for the next hunting period. Special accommodations have been organised into the parks that yield even more money from animals observers. Today, the governments of many African countries support such programs and henceforth the results are obvious to everyone. The populations of wild animals in those areas are stable and there will never be any danger for them as long as such programs are in use, but also the residents of those territories fully understood the need to preserve since their income depends on that. Almost all the big international ecological organisations admit today that without hunting very few could have been for the salvation of the animals.

Hunting and habitat improvement The term "protection" that was and unfortunately still is the motto of each ecologist all over the world, was replaced today by the scientific (and not only) community, with the term "sustainable growth". Henceforth, few people canít yet comprehend this, and among them, unfortunately, are included the majority of the Hellenic ecological organisations. They insist on a barren controversy and on an out of date, ďanti-huntingĒ hate, without trying to be informed about the internationally prevailing opinion of the important role that have undertaken the hunting organisations all over the world. Certainly, our country is still stayed behind in organising such programs of sustainable growth of biotopes. At the time where in other European countries and mainly in America, the hunting organisations have acquired primary role and responsibility for the hunting lands, working out and applying huge projects on habitat management,, here, in Hellas the out of date hunting legislation, prohibits almost any intervention!! Further, our hunting organisations are also responsible for this. Spent million euros from the huntersí subscriptions in pompous game "releases", without the support of any scientific program and no concern for special installations, with null, naturally, results. There was never applied essential pressure to the political parties and each successive Minister for changes on legislation that would allow our organisations to formulate a policy on hunting themes. Only in recent years was finally comprehended by the hunting organisations, the importance of those projects and made up scientific teams consisting of special collaborators of Hunting Federations. Such projects of management have already been worked out and they are carried out (Kakoplevri) with very encouraging results. However they always crash into the inflexible attitude of leadership and officials of the Agriculture Ministry, who donít want to lose the control of the rural and livestock lands. Our Organisationsí main concern should be the pressure by all means to the politicians for collaboration in these programs. We should envision and seek the reality of a decentralised, in provincial level, "authority" that will have main role in planing and executing management projects, with the parallel inform, training and help to hunting associations.

Hunting and Finances Most Hellenics ignore another aspect of hunting. They ignore what hunting activity offers directly and also indirectly to the national economy. Every year hunters are paying their fees in favour of the Hunting Fund, which totally amounts in the sum of 8.000.000 to 9.000.000 Ä. According to data of the Pan-Hellenic Union of Handicrafts and Hunting Goods Professionals, the annual turnover from the hunting activity amounts in the 945.000.000 Ä and the employees of the branch amounts in the 10.000. Remarkable, however, is also the contribution of hunting in the growth of local economy of mountainous and frontier territories, strengthening the internal tourism, particularly at the wintry months. Lots of hotels, restaurants, gas stations, of those places owe their existence and keep on working, almost exclusively, because of the hunters. However, according to international statistics, this sector, the hunting tourism, will benefit even more by the scientifically organised and managed rural and livestock land. The profits will be double. They will emanate from the increased hunting excursions to plenty of game places and from the parallel agricultural and livestock exploitation, by applying new and efficient techniques and cultivation. That will allow, on one hand, wild animals to remain and increase themselves, while, on the other hand, will produce at the same time more "pure" food for us. Such examples and techniques, indeed, exist in our "undeveloped" neighbouring countries! (Bulgaria k.a.).

Conclusion Today, hunting is not only an atavistic residue of mankind. Itís not only an excellent source of high quality food. Itís not only the continuation of a traditional activity. Itís not only the maintenance of manís natural robustness of mind and body. Itís also an "intellectual exit" of people from cities and villages as well. Itís the magic of a hopeful sunrise and the melancholic colours of a sunset. It is the smell of nature that wraps around you and makes you feel that you belong there and you are NO enemy. Itís the deafening quietness of the forest and the mountain, disturbed only by your pant and that of your faithful friend, your dog. Itís the pleasure of your overwhelming efforts, in difficult weather and ground conditions, with your only reward perhaps, the undertaking of a little "interest" of the ďgame capitalĒ. Finally, itís an essential activity for the salvation of the nature itself.


© Giorgio Peppas


E-mailme - Giorgio Peppas