I think there is something seriously wrong with someone who chooses to spend a large amount of money to go to some distant country (and sometimes stay within his own) just so he (or she) can kill some large animal as a 'trophy'. It is one thing entirely to kill an animal for food, it is another to kill something just to show how 'powerful/rich/manly' you are. What I find utterly despicable about the case of the dentist who shot Cecil the iconic lion, is that he didn't need to kill the beautiful beast, and then he made a mess of it. His accomplices lured the animal out of a Game Reserve, and given that Cecil was so well known, and used to people, he was a sitting target, and they knew it. Then, just to add insult, this would be 'hunter' uses a bow and arrow - and wounds him.
Then the buffoons lose track of the injured animal and it suffered for forty hours before they finally killed it with a rifle. Some hunters, some 'big' man this dentist. Now it emerges he makes a bit of a habit of killing big animals for 'sport'. Not because they are a pest, or threatening anyone - just because he gets a thrill out of it.
I am very aware of the arguments that revolve around the ecology/conservation issue, specifically that 'culling/killing' older animals 'improves' the 'bloodline' and the money pays for more 'conservation'. Further arguments make the point that it is not the hunting that is the problem, but the 'loss of habitat'. Both arguments advanced by owners of parks or companies that organise hunting. There is no doubt that there is a problem with habitat, and there is equally no doubt that there is some very big money to be made from killing animals under all manner of guises. This is, perhaps, where the biggest problems lie, particularly in Africa. The money goes largely to the personal bank accounts of the arrangers, and the 'license fees' usually vanish in backhanders to various officials to 'look the other way'. How many more Cecils must we lose before someone calls time on this slaughter of our vanishing wildlife? Particularly on the dwindling 'trophy' animals?
Poaching is a major problem and some 'target' animals are being pushed to the edges of extinction. How, therefore, can a wealthy 'tourist' obtain a permit to shoot and kill a Northern Black Rhinoceros when there are, according official sources only FOUR left in the wild! The lion population in Africa is crashing, down now to 25,000 according to conservation groups from 150,000 thirty years ago. Tanzania's President has just sold 1.8 million km2 of the Masai Mara to the Emir of Dubai as 'private hunting park'. Not unnaturally the Masai are not happy about being cleared from their traditional land, and conservation groups are not happy about having a chunk of one of the most diverse habitats for Africa's dwindling animal population turned over to 'hunting' -- private or otherwise.
Of course the usual argument that the hunting will be 'good for the diversity' is being trotted out. Frankly, it just doesn't hold water! Not in the Masai Mara!
The argument that 'loss of habitat' makes it necessary to 'cull' these beautiful animals is as much a commentary on the human race as it is on the hunters who advance it in defence of their 'sport'. The human animal is the only one that does not regulate its birthrates and population. All the African wildlife, and I should think everywhere else's, expands or contracts its numbers in a sort of harmony with food supply. That is, as long as 'humankind' don't interfere. It is well known that the 'big cats' restrict their breeding when food is in short supply, and so do most of the herd animals - humans don't. So our populations keep expanding, and restricting the space for the animal population.
Add in big money being offered by human population groups who have already decimated their own natural fauna in search of 'ingredients' for their 'traditional medicine' and then add in the inadequates with vast fortunes and the urge to prove how big they are by shooting everything that has horns or fangs and claws, and we are headed for the extinction of all the 'trophy' animals they want to kill. What then? Perhaps we should start issuing hunting permist to bag a 'Big Game Hunter'. That might address more than one problem.
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