Taiwan’s Aborigines to gain hunting rights

By Peisan Lee, The China Post

Lifting the ban on Taiwan’s Aborigines hunting in national parks serves as a starting point for the implementation of nature conservation, said Lin Young-fa, superintendent of Shei-Pa National Park, over the weekend. “Environmental conservation should be done through the approach of exchanging culture between the aborigines and the Han people,” said Lin in a press conference on the introduction of Aborigines in Mount Tahsueh and Tapachien, two major mountains in the Shei-Pa National Park located in northern Taiwan. Permitting Aborigines to hunt in the national parks was an effective means of preserving their traditional rituals, Lin said, adding it would serve as an opportunity to gain an insight into their culture. “Hunting, a part of Aborigines’ culture, should be allowed under certain circumstances to preserve their diminishing traditions,” Lin said. Under the current regulations, all hunting is prohibited in national parks, although the Ministry of Interior’s Construction and Planning Administration (CPA) last year called on government agencies and scholars alike to review their proposal for legalizing hunting.

Laws governing national parks were originally drafted in accordance with those of the United States and had left out the Aborigines, Lin noted. “But, since they were the actual owners of these mountains, their culture deserves to be respected and appreciated.” The two primary indigenous groups that originally resided in the park area are the Atayal and the Saisiyat. Lin said the national park, on a regular basis, invited people from those tribes to be tour guides and share their knowledge of natural resources and real life experiences in dealing with nature. As a result, “despite their various backgrounds, people from across the island learn to appreciate the beauty of this land and to make joint efforts to preserve nature,” Lin added. Meanwhile, most accidents were caused by the carelessness of hikers themselves and Lin said victims should be responsible for shouldering part of the expenses involved in rescues. The purpose, rather than to serve as a punishment, was to reduce costs and the frequency of accidents, which was likely if hikers were well-equipped, said Lin.

“Hikers should be more aware of their safety and be more responsible in protecting themselves,” he said. “They cannot solely depend on the country for their safety.”