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In ear­ly July, despite pub­lic protests, a call for ten­ders was planned for hunt­ing moun­tain goats in the East­ern part of Der­sim in Turkey. A species endem­ic in the Nation­al Park in the Mun­zur Val­ley, the moun­tain goats are also con­sid­ered as a sacred species by the inhab­i­tants.

More­over, on July 8th, the Turk­ish Cen­tral Hunt­ing Com­mit­tee (MAK) autho­rized hunt­ing Fuligule milouin (Aythya feri­na – the com­mon pochard) a species of div­ing duck and the Euro­pean tur­tle dove (Strep­topelia tur­tur) two endan­gered bird species. Accord­ing to the com­mit­tee’s deci­sion, hunters will be autho­rized the killing of three doves and two ducks in a sin­gle day of hunting.

A large protest

This amount­ed to the death of 784 ani­mals from wild species across Turkey, includ­ing the 17 remain­ing moun­tain goats in Dersim.

Life and nature defendors are about to start pro­ceed­ings for the annul­ment of these deci­sions. Sev­er­al cam­paigns col­lect­ing sig­na­tures have been launched simul­ta­ne­ous­ly against these permits.

Due to the protests, the call for ten­der con­cern­ing the goats in Der­sim was final­ly annulled. This call for ten­der which would cer­tain­ly have put an end to their exis­tence was sup­posed to occur on July 13.

The Der­sim moun­tain goats are known local­ly as “Xizir cat­tle” From an eso­teric view­point in Ale­vism, Xizir (Khidr) is the mys­ti­cal and immor­tal enti­ty in nature

These ani­mals roam free in small groups in var­i­ous zones. There are 5 in Darıkent and Gökçek, 5 each in Büyükyurt and Çıralı. They are on their way to extinction

In 2019, Der­sim inhab­i­tants had request­ed a hunt­ing pro­hi­bi­tion to pro­tect the moun­tain goats and had man­aged to obtain from the gov­er­nor at that time, Tun­cay Sonel, the pro­hi­bi­tion of all hunt­ing in the region.

The spokesper­son for the non-gov­ern­men­tal envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion Mun­zur Pro­tec­tion, Hasan Sen, empha­sizes that the moun­tain goats are pro­tect­ed under the Berne Treaty as species threat­ened with extinc­tion, and that they must be pro­tect­ed. He declares: “How­ev­er, the gov­er­nor’s provin­cial hunt­ing coun­cil wished to set a hunt­ing quo­ta for this ani­mal, in vio­la­tion of the inter­na­tion­al treaty we have signed. I con­sid­er the Berne Treaty to be violated.”

The val­ley is home to a num­ber of endem­ic species. The spokesper­son men­tioned the pres­ence of the red trout in the Mun­zur Riv­er. “Wild­cats, bears, martens, wolves, bad­gers and otters also reside in the region. Par­tridges, spar­row hawks, eagles and a num­ber of oth­er bird species were kind enough to stay despite mas­sacres per­pe­trat­ed against their species,” adds Hasan Sen.


As for birds

The Direc­tor of the Con­ser­va­tion pro­gram at the Doga asso­ci­a­tion, Itri Lev­en Erkol, and Ankara’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Fed­er­a­tion of Ani­mal Rights HAYTAP, Pelin Sayıl­gan, issued a joint dec­la­ra­tion on the mat­ter of the calls for ten­ders, stat­ing that the right to life is non-nego­tiable for all liv­ing beings.

They men­tioned that the deci­sion was also con­trary to arti­cles 6 and 8 of the Con­ven­tion of Bio­log­i­cal Diver­si­ty, which man­dates sig­na­to­ry coun­tries to devel­op strate­gies for the con­ser­va­tion of endan­gered species.

The struc­ture of the Hunt­ing Cen­tral Com­mit­tee is one of the rea­sons for this bad deci­sion. Of the 21 mem­bers of the com­mit­tee, nine are hunters, one is the own­er of hunt­ing grounds, one is with the Hunt­ing Fed­er­a­tion and one from a soci­ety whose area of exper­tise is unde­ter­mined”, states the dec­la­ra­tion, not­ing the absence of any sci­en­tists on the committee.

As a mat­ter of infor­ma­tion, pop­u­la­tions of the tur­tle doves and div­ing ducks are dimin­ish­ing rapid­ly. The pop­u­la­tion of tur­tle doves in Turkey has fall­en by 78% dur­ing the past 40 years, while the pop­u­la­tion of div­ing ducks has been halved in 20 years. These two species appear on the red list of threat­ened species issued by the Inter­na­tion­al Union for the Con­ser­va­tion of nature (UICN). Accord­ing to Bird Life, 12 to 38 mil­lion birds are hunt­ed each year in the Mediter­ranean basin.

If on July 11 2020, the call for ten­ders was annulled in Turkey, this more gen­er­al ques­tion of the hunt­ing of species threat­ened with dis­ap­pear­ance and become a “mar­ket” is def­i­nite­ly worth clos­er scruti­ny on those turn­ing bio-diver­si­ty into a mer­chan­dise and the poli­cies facil­i­tat­ing these practices.

Very recent­ly, one Don­ald Trump rushed into this pol­i­cy of dev­as­tata­tion of liv­ing enti­ties by open­ing the way to hunt­ing in zones that were pro­tect­ed, such as parks or nat­ur­al pre­serves. His mot­to is “every­one must have free access to the exploita­tion of nat­ur­al resources and must be able to prof­it from it.”

Those words have the mer­it of clar­i­ty, if no oth­er. Thus, for him, “hunt­ing” is part of a chain that moves on through defor­esta­tion and exploitation/predation of soils and sub­soils, water resources…There is noth­ing new about this pol­i­cy which has always been part of the devel­op­ment of cap­i­tal­ist pre­da­tion of the entire plan­et, be it his­tor­i­cal­ly or in the con­tem­po­rary world. Yet, it seemed to be slow­ing down as con­scious­ness increased on a plan­e­tary scale of the dan­gers it caused. Faced with resis­tance to the mas­sive destruc­tion of envi­ron­ments, and alerts launched by sci­en­tists across the world, there appeared “large events” notably on mat­ters rel­a­tive to the cli­mate. It was the begin­ning of a response.

Trump and Bol­sonaro in Brazil – to name only those two although oth­ers could be added from Asia – thus appear to be rep­re­sen­ta­tives of today’s sav­age cap­i­tal­ist ortho­doxy in the face of uphold­ers of “green reg­u­la­tion”, of “sus­tain­able cap­i­tal­ism”. The era of “oil and coal” hav­ing reached its peak and prof­its in those areas becom­ing more uncer­tain, some­thing must be attempt­ed to find new ways of exploit­ing the sub­soils but most­ly of build­ing a prof­itable pre­da­tion of liv­ing enti­ties. The defor­esta­tion chain, GMOs, inten­sive cat­tle rear­ing are some exam­ples among oth­ers. Shale gas, the min­ing for rare mate­ri­als, the ongo­ing pil­lag­ing of wood from pri­ma­ry forests, of spaces turned over to the pro­duc­tion of palm oil, rep­re­sent fur­ther instances of this atti­tude. This cap­i­tal­ism is far from hav­ing said its last word, even if it occa­sion­al­ly drapes itself in green. Is Erdoğan hop­ing to join the club?

Might there be a kind of per­ver­sion at play for some who because of their eco­nom­ic and social sta­tus con­sid­er being the one caus­ing the dis­ap­pear­ance of last spec­i­men of a species, a “fun” notion? Def­i­nite­ly worth a self­ie for pos­ter­i­ty, yes?

So, in all of this, is hunting only a detail?

Yes, no doubt, but a most reveal­ing one of this glob­al ide­ol­o­gy expressed in ram­pant lib­er­al­ism as the guar­an­tor of prof­its for the system.

But we must not let our­selves be fooled. If few human group­ings are left on earth who are “hunters/gatherers” out of neces­si­ty, and if, under those con­di­tions “tra­di­tion­al” hunt­ing is now use­less and only con­tin­ues as a social or cul­tur­al ‘sport’, log­i­cal­ly, it should dis­ap­pear as oth­er “tra­di­tions” based on the spec­ta­cle of ani­mal suf­fer­ing are slow­ly fad­ing away. But, in con­sid­er­ing this, one can always think back on the famous sketch by the French group Incon­nus (no need to under­stand French to get the mes­sage.. or to see the same atti­tudes under dif­fer­ent skies…

No “cul­tur­al” jus­ti­fi­ca­tion can hold when faced with the accu­mu­lat­ed knowl­edge con­cern­ing liv­ing beings, the cli­mate dis­rup­tions, the threats on bio-diver­si­ty and the announced third extinc­tion. At best we could con­sid­er deal­ing with nec­es­sary “reg­u­la­tions”, pre­cise­ly in order to mit­i­gate the innu­mer­able human manip­u­la­tions to the chain of life over the past cen­turies, from food chains and life envi­ron­ments: re-intro­duc­ing species, dras­tic reduc­tion of oth­er intro­duced for­eign species in endan­gered biotopes, in short, a mat­ter for sci­en­tists and pro­tec­tors of the liv­ing, and not of “meat machines in camo”. Polit­i­cal and envi­ron­men­tal deci­sions, far removed from the spir­it of the hunt.

But the debate is not being car­ried out at that lev­el. If politi­cians use hunt­ing for image and mar­ket-build­ing, it is pre­cise­ly because this flirts with cur­rent ide­o­log­i­cal con­struc­tions using notions such as “tra­di­tion”, “iden­ti­ty”, “dom­i­na­tion” and “pow­er”.

Faced with the world-wide increase of con­scious­ness con­cern­ing life and the destruc­tion of eco-sys­tems across the plan­et, politi­cians must make choic­es which they express in most con­tra­dic­to­ry ways, depend­ing on the cir­cum­stances. We must note how­ev­er that the grow­ing build-up of var­i­ous types of nation­al­ism and aggres­sive sov­er­eignisms go hand-in-hand with nega­tion­ism con­cern­ing the pro­tec­tion of envi­ron­ments and bio­di­ver­si­ty. Depend­ing on the con­ti­nents, insur­ing sup­port from the weapons lob­by, such as that of hunters, is a reflex for the preser­va­tion of pow­er when it is not square­ly, as in the Ama­zon, an open sea­son on the last hunt­ing abo­rig­i­nals, opened by Bolsonaro.

Erdoğan would almost look like a bit play­er with his goats were it not for the fact he hunts down the Kurds, in order to be on the same lev­el as his elders who hunt­ed down Armenians.

A video from 2017, recorded near the village of Rabat in Dersim. The number of goats has greatly diminished since…

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Daniel Fleury
Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…