Mention the word ‘hunting’ and people are generally divided into two groups without much middle ground. Throw the words ‘canned lion’ into that mix and tempers tend to get very heated very quickly…well, this should be interesting then.
It seems one of SA’s top dogs in the hunting industry, the president of the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa, is doing something of a rethink on the matter. As the issue continues to draw serious heat, the voices of those staunchly opposed to the killing of lions for sport rapidly growing, Hermann Meyeridricks has called for a review on the November 2013 policy implemented by the organisation.
IOL quotes Meyeridricks below:
While we are not completely against lion hunting at this point, it is time to revisit our position. We took the view that our position was a stepping stone to cleaning up the captive-bred lion hunting industry. We made it clear that it was certainly not our final word on the hunting of lions.
From my dealings with the media and the community, it has become clear to me that those against the hunting of lions bred in captivity are no longer just a small if vociferous group of animal rights activists. Broader society is no longer neutral on this question and the tide of public opinion is turning strongly against this form of hunting, however it is termed.
Even within our own ranks, as well as in the hunting fraternity as a whole, respected voices are speaking out publicly against it. I have come to believe that, as it stands, our position on lion hunting is no longer tenable.
‘No longer tenable’ is some pretty strong wording, you would have to think those statements above could lead to real change.
The issue of professional hunting was once again brought to the fore this past month following the killing of a lion called Cecil in Zimbabwe. The 13-year-old male had been a visitor’s favourite for the best part of a decade and was murdered after wildlife guides allegedly accepted bribes to encourage him to leave the safety of Hwange National Park. Here’s the BBC:
The lion…was shot with a bow and arrow and rifle, before being beheaded and skinned…the lion, which had a distinctive black mane, did not die immediately and was followed for more than 40 hours before it was shot with rifle, [head of Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force Johnny] Rodrigues said.
The lion had been “baited” out of the park, a tactic which hunters used to portray their action as legal, Mr Rodrigues said. Two guides had been arrested and if it was confirmed that the hunter was a Spaniard, “we will expose him for what he is”, he added.
The six cubs of Cecil will now be killed, as a new male lion in the pride will not allow them to live in order to encourage the lionesses to mate with him.
Of course the above is obviously an example of illegal hunting, rather than lions bred in captivity for the sole reason of being hunted, but you’ll find many people won’t be making that distinction when lending their voices to those opposed to the ‘sport’.
What do I think? You can say what you want about how much money the practice brings in for conservation purposes, you can argue how is it different to breeding animals for meat, but if you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching these beasts in the wild you must be buggered in the head (and / or short-changed in the crotch) to want to pop a trophy like this up on your wall at home.
Go buy a sports car, I hear they also help soothe the pain of the ‘small man’ syndrome.
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