Recently a story by Peter Simpson of Daily Mail UK made waves in the conservationist circle, that wealthy Chinese businessmen, as many as 100, are paying upwards of $80,000US to hunt endangered polar bears into extinction with this headline, “Rich Chinese Thrill Seekers Paying £50,000 for ‘trip of a lifetime…’ to kill endangered polar bears.”
The Daily Mail then followed up with an OpEd with the temerity to question how cruel the Chinese race is: “are the Chinese the cruelest race on earth?“
Surely, if this is true even I would have to admit the Chinese must be the cruelest race on earth
– EXCEPT – this story seems to be fake. This is yet again another example of the “Collective Defamation” melektaus has written about not too long ago on this blog.
The primary source for the Daily Mail story, a safari hunting guide named Scott Lupien who operates a Beijing subsidiary of US-based Safari Club International, disputed quotes Peter Simpson attributed to him as distortion and fabrication:
On March 5th, 2012 I received a phone call from a Daily Mail reporter calling himself Peter.
I told him that I have never been on a polar bear hunt, and to my knowledge, neither has a single Chinese person.
To my surprise, Peter took what I said and twisted it to create a sensational story
In order to sell papers and make big profits, he created a story about something that doesn’t even exist (Chinese hunting polar bears)
So the fact is not one polar bear hunting package has been sold in China, none the less any Chinese going on Alaska and killing polar bears.
So how did a rumor grow into such a serious indictment? Seems 52safari did make it in Chinese media’s recent focus on growing popularity of overseas adventure traveling, and unscrupulous journalists like Peter Simpson just twist the facts into a sensational story that espouses the dominate media narrative of “Evil Chinese”.
Here are some additional facts that was ignored by the article:
1) Chartered polar bear hunts are legal under Canadian law and have been going on for decades in Canada. The size of arctic polar bear population and allowed harvests are under strict management by the Renewable Wildlife Economic Development Office.
2) The Inuit people in the arctic region hunt polar bear as sustenance, and by treaty rights are entitled to yearly hunts within Canadian government’s wildlife management parameters.
3) Chartered polar bear hunts purchase hunting rights from the Inuit people, and hunt the polar bears under Inuit customs accompanies by local guide. The hunted polar bear is given to the Inuits for food, and the pelt is purchased from the tribe with hunting license, trophy fees, GST, export fees all paid by the hunters.
4) Other incomes derived by these Alaskan safaris for the Inuits include equipment rental, transportation, lodging, taxidermy and tannery services.
5) Most of the “big game hunters” are WASP Americans; I scoured Google Images for trophy hunt photos, and not one person is Chinese-looking (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) I challenge anyone to come up with a photo of a Chinese hunter posing with his polar bear trophy.
While I do not believe endangered species should be hunted, even considering the complicated issues of Native American treaty rights and preservation of indigenous culture. However, when the media chooses to demonize the Chinese, the issue becomes muddled and the false indictment detracts from the cause. Even if the intent is to bring awareness to the plight of the polar bears, any sympathy I had for the creature is now diminished by the biased reporting.
What seems to be truly endangered here is journalistic integrity.