Very helpful information
A huge thank you to Liz Komen and NARREC in Namibia, for providing this information and approaching influential people in Namibia. Please pass this along.
A production where a Hamerkop, Scopus umbretta, nest is deliberately smashed and the chicks are
strangled and eaten has been filmed on a farm in Namibia and aired on Discovery Channel. This reality show produced by Renegade83 for Discovery Channel is ethically if not legally bound to explain how they were in breach of the following:
hunting without a permit
hunting a non-huntable species
hunting in a non-hunting season, wanton environmental destruction
Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism within the legislation has a game utilization permit. Stated are huntable species, hunting seasons and manner of hunting. No wanton environmental destruction involving wildlife is permitted. In an episode of “Naked and Afraid” the 2 participants knock a Hamerkop nest off a cliff, then strangle the nestlings and consume.
Renegade83 producers, directors, actors would never be allowed to behave in this way either in the USA or in Europe. Not only would there have been a public outcry, but also the great possibility of a legal action being taken against the production company. As the events for these reality shows are staged, the entire crew of Renegade83 as well as Discovery Channel are surely accountable.
The Renegade83 group have found a soft target in Namibia for unethical filming. With the likely lucrative deal for a private landowner – in this case a game farm – the farm owner may also be liable for the illegal hunting action on his/her property.
The Namibian Film Commission gives production permission for filming. Only if the request is for filming in national parks or in a protected area are MET permits required. This may be the loop-hole that sensationalist and or unethical production companies have found. Namibia must take note that “survival series” filming needs strict policing or must be totally outlawed.
It is worth noting that Renegade83 filmed in Bolivia where the participants caught, killed and ate a falcon, one of Bolivia's protected species. The publicity manager of Discovery Channel failed to answer correspondence from “Latinvets”, a group of South American wildlife professionals, on this breach of ethics and conservation law in Bolivia.
The current conservation crisis in Africa and beyond relies on the assistance and influence of popular media to promote awareness and to denounce cruelty and waste of wildlife. Discovery Channel is a popular channel on DSTV Multichoice, viewed by subscribers throughout sub-saharan Africa, and it is for this reason and because of the lack of response from Discovery channel to Latinvets, that the Broadcasting Complaints Commission is included as one of the recipients of this letter.
The International Organization for Epidemiology (OIE) has over the past decade emphasized welfare as part of animal health. Focal persons for animal welfare and welfare education and for wildlife disease have been appointed in Namibia. In any case of non-compliance with a national permit system a bio- security breach is possible and consequences may be untraceable and later globally relevant.
The Hamerkop is a protected species in Namibia, with only 19% of nestlings ever reaching fledgling age. Such poor breeding success should give Namibia even greater cause to take responsible advocacy action to control needless sensationalism and promote conservation of its biodiversity. An expectation lies with all for responsible and sensible cooperation.
It is hoped that Renegade83, the management of Discovery Channel and broadcasters such as DSTV
Multichoice will respond to the world's cry for help to stop unnecessary environmental destruction