Picture the scene, on the wild open savannah in the sub-Saharan east Africa, a scattering of unusual trees and plants, the long grasses, the wildebeest and zebra going about their business of survival, the hot sun baked the land, heat mirages rise from the parched plains. Here we see the object of our hunt……..
The humans, sitting beneath the branches of a desert date tree, they live in large family groups, and they are prolific breeders. Every few year or so the government announce a cull, just to keep there numbers down. They will, if left to roam free, destroy their habitat and deplete the food source at an alarming rate. Today we are joined by Clarence, he runs the Kruger national park services, and it is him that will lead the hunt to reduce the numbers of humans to a more manageable number. He is one of only four lions in the group, the numbers are made up to a team of fifteen which include six gorillas and five Orang-utans from Asia, flown over for their marksmanship. The gorillas and the orang-utans are the members of the group that are armed, the opposable thumbs are must have for the use of the modern day rifles, the lions of the group are the trackers, and can smell the human stench from up to four miles away.
Once culled, nothing goes to waste, the skins are made in to hearth rugs, the bush meat is given to the local villages, the teeth are ground down by the Pandas and snub nosed monkeys for aphrodisiacs and erection problems, and the bones are used to carve luxury ornaments, the top half of the skull is sanded and polished for bowls used in many religious ceremonies. Nothing goes to waste, it makes the cull more palatable for many around the globe. Locals in this part of Africa look upon the humans as vermin, destroying crops and rampaging through villages, last year was the highest count of fatalities to villagers since records began back in 1848. Many feel that maybe they should just be relocated to other national parks, circuses and zoo’s, however, many circus owners point out that the humans are almost impossible to train, and zoo’s don’t like their aggressive reactions to being watch.
Over recent months various pharmaceutical company’s have rounded up all the humans they need for various experimental test in the field of medical research, and a number of company’s from the motor vehicle industry still use live humans as crash test dummies. As Clarence was keen to point out to me, that what they take is just the tip of the iceberg, the cull is necessary to make the herds more manageable. It is more surgical to shoot them rather than laying traps and poison baits, and is a lot more humane to the victims. There is a growing consensus believing that the culls are cruel and senseless, but Clarence is also keen to point out that if left to grow wild the threat to health, environment and livelihood of those inhabitants trying to survive in this hostile landscape is a loosing battle. Life on this savannah is a delicate eco system that has to be regulated very carefully by Clarence and his team, like baking, too much of one ingredient and not enough of others will result in failure. There are many hidden cameras and radio tracking collars to keep a close eye on the comings and goings of all life here, and modern satellite technology has made the control a lot easier, but there is still a need for gamekeepers tracking around the area, keeping a close eye on things.
We are huddled together in this hide the Gorillas and Orang-utans are poised, locked and loaded. We have a family unit about 200 yards away, it numbers about thirty humans, a large number of adults, a few adolescence who are the most destructive members and a small number of very young who are the most hungry of the group, given free range they can devour the fruits and berries from every tree and shrub in their vicinity. They will strip the trees and shrubs quicker than a swarm of locusts, this has the knock on effect of fewer trees being able to seed themselves, putting them in danger of various species of dying out, this in turn will cause this area to become nothing more than a dust bowl, causing dust storms of almost 100 miles across. The ranger also informs me they spread a large variety of virus and deceases which can be transmitted from human to animal. The team that look after and regulate human numbers decide at the end of each year if a cull is needed and how many, and those numbers are set in stone, and preparations are made.
Clarence and his team only take older members of the herd, humans in this environment can live up to 70 years old. There are those in the rest of the world that manage to train them as pets, they also have to leave a stipulation in their wills of who they are leaving them to. At one time the number of stray humans being rounded up in New York hit three figures, a human is for life, not just for christmas, was a slogan that hoped to help the new year rise in numbers of the strays, with little success, and now their ownership is strictly licensed in most city’s worldwide, and compulsory micro chipping helps to find the owners of any strays caught.
Those who have not been chipped are kept in control centres for seven days before being euthanised. However, the numbers of privately owned humans is on the decrease due to the amount of space and work they need. Clarence cannot believe the figures as I tell him how many are owned by individuals. Locals in this area look on humans much like wasps, they serve no real purpose, apart from attacking for the sheer fun of it and destroying their environment and crops. The local government has even supplied rifles to villagers who suffer at their hands, to try to ease the destruction of the livelihood of small villages.
Considering the threat that the over population of humans can pose to the continued survival of this eco system, it is still hard to sit here and watch the gorillas complete their tasks. They are some of the best marksman available, there is no suffering involved in the eradication of elderly and infirm of the human social groups. I can absolutely see the standpoint of the protesters, but they are just over thinking the social side of this species, they are just human, destructive, insatiable in their habits and have a long term and genuine threat to the survival of everyone on this savannah. Left un-culled they will destroy all in their path and this place may never recover.