Hunting had been an element of human life from time immemorial, dating back to three million years ago. The inequitable right to land ownership during the Middle Ages hunting was an entitlement solely to the aristocracy. The French Revolution had homogenized hunting substantially, which ushered havoc to the forest ecosystem. But presently, a new vision has come to light – a recreational activity – taking into account the protection of wildlife and the environment.
The Transfiguration: Requisite to Respite
Humans have progressed immensely from a nomadic lifestyle, and the nourishment received from cadavers into devising modern strategies for the same. Our ancestors formulated hunting strategies with the aid of primitive weapons and manoeuvre. For them, hunting was a necessary evil. Hunting was not only the means of food, but also the other incentives included clothing from the skin, and implements using bones, or horns. They possessed diversified weapons from sticks and stones to hunt birds to clubs and sticks like African knobkerry; to spears, bows, and arrows – the omnipresent weapon, to the most lethal weapon – blowgun. But the development of agriculture relegated hunting to an ancillary role to protect crops and livestock.
Hunting soon altered from a necessity to a prerogative of the nobility. In Egypt, the hunters were from a particular class, showering them with a social significance. The generals in charge of armies could demonstrate their competence as warriors through hunting. Being summoned to go poaching with the king was the epitome of prestige.
In France, during the Renaissance period, a new way of life emerged – hunting with the hounds. A royal ordinance in 1515 forbade the common man, the right to hunt, viewing it as a squander on the time they had to spend on their agricultural land. The French Revolution should be acclaimed for the autonomy enabled in hunting, though the hierarchy still existed to an extent.
In the 19th century, with the Industrial Revolution’s genesis, large farms became the trendsetter, and hunting was relegated to a part-time activity. However, the epoch of criticism for hunting as a sport is witnessed in the previous two centuries, enabling regulations for the protection of endangered species. North America, Africa, Asia, South America are those places where the gun was a weapon of security and sustenance.
Even so, in the 19th century, with the extinction of passenger pigeons and bison in North America, restrictions were laid for the protection of wildlife ecosystems. State and national laws made it mandatory for hunters to possess license along with a fixed kill limit being laid. Wildlife conservation became a reality in 1860 in India, at the end of the 19th century in Africa, early years of the 20th century in North America, and after World War II in Europe.