What constitute hunting and what is not hunting?

Hunting is the art of stalking animals for the purpose of killing them or with the intention of doing so. Fishing, which is the art of pursuing after fish for the purpose of killing them, is not regarded as part of hunting. Also, stalking animals without the intention of killing them, such as in photography, bird watching or wildlife studies, is recognized as hunting. The animals that are hunted are called game. Animals usually hunted are mammals and birds. The gathering of plant materials is also distinguished from hunting. Hunting involves considerable skill for stalking and trapping game.

Purposes of Hunting

Hunting is done for various purposes such as for food, recreation, and managing wildlife resources, that is, controlling the population of species within an ecosystem within manageable limits. In modern times, hunting is distinguished from poaching which is the stalking and killing of game in prohibited areas such as game reserves. Poaching is illegal, as game reserves are designed for the protection of endangered species.

History of Hunting

Hunting has been practiced from ancient times and evidence suggests that it started from about two million years ago in the western part of Kenya. Hunting was a prominent part of the lifestyle of Hunter-Gatherer societies which dates back to about eleven thousand years ago. The domestication of the dog which occurred about 15,000 years ago along with the invention of the bow (18000 years ago) contributed to improvements in hunting techniques. Fossil evidence indicates that spears had been used for hunting about 16,200 years ago in Asia. Many species have been hunted historically but the most recognizable of these are the Reindeer and Caribou which were hunted in Eurasia and North America. Species of greatest importance in hunting history have varied according to region. Hunting began to decline in economic importance and prevalence when Europeans began to discover and exploit new parts of the world and mercantilism, industrialization and capitalism began to characterize modern societies. Hunting however persists in some parts of the world such as among the indigenes of the Amazon, the San people of central and southern Africa, the Fayu people of New Guinea, the Vedda of Sri Lanka, and the Hadza of Tanzania.

Effects of Hunting

The extinction or near extinction of certain species of animals has been attributed to the activities of hunters. For instance, the extinction of the Holocene mega faunas of North America and Australia. The activities of poachers are also a threat to the survival of endangered species that are usually held in game reserves. As a consequence, many laws have been made to ensure wild life conservation and to limit the activities of poachers by nations and international agencies.