Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s controversial deer-hunting expedition to the Scottish Highlands was actually aimed at observing the wildlife conservation efforts in Europe, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) said on Monday, adding that it helped organize the trip as early as two years ago.
“It’s totally different from what media reports say, and it’s not what the reports hinted at all,” the group said in a statement, which was issued in reaction to a Sunday Times report that Ma and his friends stayed at an old English castle near Loch Ness to live like English aristocrats and hunt for deer.
It’s “beneficial and not harmful” to shoot some old male animals if their population has reached a certain number and shooting is limited at a specific level, the statement said, adding that it will even help in healthy wildlife development.
“The balance of many ecosystems has already been broken. The number of top-level predators such as lions and wolves has been decreasing due to historical excessive hunting, while herbivores including deer and goats have reproduced rapidly,” TNC said.
And in many places the number of these hoofed animals has exceeded what the environment could accommodate and could paralyze the whole ecosystem in the long run, the group said.
Therefore, planned hunting based on scientific research to eliminate the old, weak and sick wild animals would help reduce the spread of diseases and competition for scarce resources among animals, according to the statement.
The US-based charitable environmental group has organized visits to Kenya and the Amazon forests to increase public awareness on wildlife conservation.
The group said Ma’s trip has been “distorted” by media reports and would hurt nature protection efforts, it said.
“Jack Ma has attended many of our meetings and events as a member of the global board of directors, and we are quite impressed by the contribution made by Chinese entrepreneurs all over the world,” the statement said.
Ma has hired four helicopters to transport a dozen of his friends to the Aldourie Castle on the shores of Loch Ness, where they spent HK$1.3 million (US$167,700) to live like Scottish royalty in the 500-acre estate that boasts 15 bedrooms plus the services of a butler and a chef, according to The Sunday Times.
Ma became the first Chinese member of the TNC’s global board of directors in April 2010 after he became a trustee of TNC China program in 2009.
– Contact us at [email protected]