When MiMi Falb was four, a family member put her on the back of a horse named 7-Up at a Fourth of July picnic and ignited a passion that would become a hobby and, later, a career. She now makes her living training horses and taking part in three-day eventing, an equestrian triathlon with competitions in show jumping, cross-country and dressage.
Between competitions she makes time for another outdoor passion, one that she shares with her mother and grandmother. Hunting together lets them share quality time while promoting the proper management of animal populations, ensuring they continue to thrive for future generations.
La Coma Ranch in south Texas is well known for working to preserve endangered species, but it is also known for fine hunting. I became a passionate hunter, following in the tradition of my mother and grandmother. Hunting is part of my family heritage, especially for the women. We are just as competitive as the men and never miss an opportunity to get out and shoot. Many men in our family don’t like to admit it, but my grandmother is the best shot in our family.
I have many fond memories both on the ranch and on safaris with my mother and grandmother. The most memorable was during my first safari through Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa in 2004, when I was gifted the very same 7 mm that both my mother and my grandmother had used on their first safaris. Because of its history, this gun will always be my favorite!
Owning a gun, along with my experiences as a hunter, has taught me that protecting and preserving wildlife for future generations is one of the greatest contributions and responsibilities of the hunting community.Without hunters, ranchers in Africa have little incentive to care whether trespassers are poaching the wildlife …
The ranch has been in my family for four generations. As I was growing up, I spent a lot of time there hunting and learning about the importance of conservation and the preservation of animals. Many people don’t believe that hunters are conservationists, but in fact they provide the largest funding towards conservation. Ever since I first picked up a rifle, I have been taught to respect the animals that I have hunted and the importance of preserving their habitat.
I grew up in a time when our family was working with several zoos and conservation organizations, which shifted the focus of our ranch from being mainly a cattle operation to an exotic game ranch that included many endangered species.
My grandfather was one of the principal supporters in the effort to save the black rhino from extinction. In the early ’80s, he was asked by Game Conservation International if we could foster three rhinos from the Natal Parks Board in South Africa and start a breeding program on our ranch in Texas. The intent was always to send them back to Africa, but because of the increased poaching they remained in the United States. Our breeding program was very successful, producing eight baby black rhinos.
I went back to Botswana in 2013 for the last season of elephant hunting. There were so many elephant, and there still are—right now. Botswana had already closed all other hunting with the exception of elephant the year before, and there was already evidence of increased poaching due to many hunting concessions being closed and the decrease in park officials to patrol the areas. As with the closing of hunting in Kenya in the ’80s, I fear Botswana will face huge increases in poaching, which will ultimately pose a threat to all wildlife, especially for elephant and rhino.
One of the greatest dangers to wildlife is poaching and ineffective sanctions to ban hunting. Without legitimate hunting and the license fees that hunters generate, the revenue available to hire game scouts and park officials will be severely curtailed, opening the doors to poachers. Without hunters, ranchers in Africa will have little incentive to care whether trespassers are poaching the wildlife—and the ones who care will have little money to stop them.