Let’s stop putting a bullet through the heart of the world while we still have one

By March 2, 2021Hunting

White Tiger. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Cyril Christo, The Hill | February 25, 2021

Read the original story here.

“The handful of conservationists who believe the trophy hunting propaganda need to wake up. They are naive and are being manipulated. Society will not forgive them for being complicit in the cruelty and conservation disaster that is trophy hunting.”

–Jane Goodall

“For species such as elephants and rhinos to be fighting for their existence due to human exploitation and interference is unacceptable, and we must do everything within our power to turn this dire situation around. We are responsible for the problem, and we must be held responsible for the solution. It will indeed be a very sad indictment on our species if rhinos and elephants are no more, and that day will come sooner than we think if we do not take action.”

–Sir David Attenborough OBE 

“As a civilisation that has the ingenuity to put people and machines into space, split the atom, and routinely send unimaginable amounts of information through the ether, surely we can think of a better way to save the animals we love besides killing them.”

–Andrew Loveridge, Oxford University

“The only difference between trophy hunting and poaching is a piece of paper. If you are rich and white and you kill a rhino, you are a conservationist. If you are poor and black and you kill a rhino, you are a poacher.”

–Chris Mercer, Director, Campaign Against Canned Hunting (South Africa) 

“Are we bloody nuts? How does the insanity of killing these magnificent animals, of which there is only a handful left, conserve them? A trophy animal is the best of the brightest of the breed so of course let’s kill them first. The madness.”

–William Shatner 

The Little Prince could have asked a trophy hunter why he kills. Just like the time he asked the businessman why he collects stars. The businessman, with nothing but dollars twinkling in his eyes responded because they are his. After wondering why he would do such a thing, the Little Prince asks but what do you do for them?

Can we ask the same about the innocent? They are being gunned down and it is wrong. Tens of thousands of beings are being shot because a part of the human brain is off kilter and manhood and rites of passage have been misplaced, misguided and misaligned. The heart has been shut down.

How is this for a headline from the UK where trophy hunting grandiosely started: “Sickening: Briton charges trophy hunters thousands to kill farm-bred lions.”

Or this:

“How can we call ourselves a civilisation if we think murdering animals for a laugh is ok?”

Or:

“I enjoy Africa. I’d still shoot a buffalo.”

“Plea to PM: Time to end this cruel colonial sport.”

And the cover of the Mirror has a hunter with a newly killed polar bear who are suffering outrageous fortunes on the ice or the lack thereof:

Killed in cold blood

Sick hunters putting entire species at risk

Apparently, Ernest Hemingway had a few things on his mind when he wrote in “True at First Light,” “This looking and not seeing things was a great sin.” Knowing full well the perfidy of hunting but still actively taking part.

Knowing full well that local Africans got very, very minimal resources from the 500 million spent on trophies. What does it say about our species that we can indeed not find other resources as I have suggested so that billionaires use their money and get the billions Africa needs right now, especially in the time of pandemic.

Hemingway writes, “I did know that the white people always took the other people’s lands away and put them on a reservation where they could go to hell and be destroyed as though they were in a concentration camp.” Ironic that the first person I talked to about the killing of the innocent was one of the central pillars of the entire 20th century, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. No less. And he exclaimed that we needed to resolve this problem, which he called “an urgent moral imperative.”

More than 1,000 elephants have been brought to England in recent years. Fifty years ago there might have been about 700,000 leopards. Today 50,000. In the middle of the last century there may have been 500,000 lions. Today maybe 15,000. NASA we have a problem. A very, very big one indeed.

Like the tree that was 40 years old when Mozart was 8 and now has been cut to make way for a freeway. Or the elephant that has attained a ripe old age of 70 plus and is gunned own. For what exactly? Why not cut 3,000- or 5,000-year old baobabs for plywood?

It was Hemingway in all earnestness, exemplifying perfectly the trophy hunter mind or lack thereof who wrote, “he’s my lion and I love him and respect him and I have to kill him. He doesn’t care about me at all. I care about him, and that’s why I kill him. You ought to understand.”

It is a purely Western invention that needs to come to an end. The native people of the world have too much respect for life and survival to contemplate such an action. Trophy animals can only be shot once and then they are gone. The average elephant can bring a million during its lifetime in pure dollars. When it is shot maybe 50,000, maybe twice that. But not a million. This is creating a “reverse evolutionary effect.” You know, there is a psychological and criminal dimension to this activity. Just as it exists in the political sphere.

I have a question. Why is it that the top “guns,” the top voices, in moral philosophy, literature, physics and biology, never mind conservation, all believe that to slay for fun is an outrage and an obscenity?

There is a direct relationship between the ability to extinguish ourselves over the last century and our ability to crucify life, to gun down the innocent and subjugate them as “civilized” man has done in the last 200 years. Because that is what we are doing.

It is only about money for those who would support executing life to “save” it.

In most great areas where trophy areas have been put aside for trophy hunting populations have been denuded. We can play ping pong with this forever. We know what has happened to that most magisterial cat, the tiger. More than 95 percent eradicated by such “reputables” as the Maharaja of Alwar, who organized hunting parties for the British in India a century ago. For fun.

There were over 100,000 tigers a century ago. Certainly tens of thousands in India alone. Can anyone guarantee they won’t go extinct? Yes, there are still some poached, with wildlife cartels coming from China or Southeast Asia, but the vast majority of the massacre was conducted for fun. Shikar or sport hunting came very close to eliminating the greatest feline on Earth. Does anyone want to bet they won’t make it to 2050?  I bet you. The Bali, Caspian and Javan tigers went extinct by the 1980’s.

Shikar was brought to India by the Moghuls who used swords and arrows. The arrows of outrageous fortune. I would recommend those fine fellows who really need to slay a lion, to use a sword. See how close you get. One on one. Don’t use the combined intelligence of the entire human species against one animal in the form of a rifle. From a safe distance. Go for a buffalo with a spear. Try it. Much more adrenaline. Much more. Go for it. Use manhood and cunning. Give it a whirl. Because the arguments are a little insane at this point. What happened to the elephants and rhinos. The craze for shooting them started as fun.

Kailash Sankhala, tiger expert himself notes that before the mid-sixties killing tigers was only a pastime and then it became an industry, a commercial enterprise. Does that sounds familiar? It became the same in Africa with everything that breathed. Unadulterated annihilation! The lack of genetic diversity is affecting the tiger in Asia as it does the lion, let’s be frank.

Yes. Yes, yes, yes money needs to come from somewhere to help conservation. But most of the areas that were put aside for trophy hunting have become depopulated.

“We found that genetic diversity has been lost dramatically compared to the Raj tigers and what diversity remains has become much more subdivided into the small (20-120 individual) populations that exist today,” says study author Professor Mike Bruford from the Cardiff School of Biosciences. “This is important because tigers, like all other species, need genetic diversity to survive – especially under climate change – so what diversity remains needs to be managed properly so that the Indian tiger does not become inbred, and retains its capacity to adapt,” said Bruford. The British Raj almost totally collapsed the tiger. Tyger Tyger Burning Bright. Not so much. And some day not at all. Same with the lion.

Let’s proceed to the utterly craven reality what man has wrought. According to tiger expert Valmik.Thapar, “….massive destruction of the tiger took place between 1930 and 1960.” Between the British and the Indian ruling classes the records increased in leaps and bounds. Ranthambhore, the Maharaja of Jaipur’s private hunting reserve, saw a peak of activity. In those days the “shooting lodge” had spacious lawns where hunting parties played croquet and badminton, and took morning exercise on camel back for pleasure. Camps were laid out with large colorful tents called Shamianas as the hunting parties awaited news of the tiger. The guests included His Majesty King George of Greece, the Duke of Gloucester, the Count and Countess Szechenyi, Princess Zia, the daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the Georgian Prince Alec Mdvani, Earl Hopping, Sir Robert Throckmorton, Sir Beauchamp St. John, a series of Maharajas and a host of others. In other words, the elite.

Those who pay. Those with the wherewithal. Money reigns supreme and that is the only argument trophy hunters have.

Coming closer to home, in New Mexico coyote killing contests have been ever so popular. Shot by the dozens. Until a new governor with concern for the wild was elected and then the practice was banned. Coyotes after being shot were left to rot by the side of the road. What ceremony. What grace. Some groups like the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation oppose the ban. These kind of “contests” are allowed in all but six states, where there seems to be a big divide in wildlife management. Management being something Nature is much better at us than ourselves. These practices are of course considered abhorrent by the vast majority of people.

James Gibson, the sociologist, in his excruciatingly superb piece “Hornography” about the canned deer hunting practices in Texas, where deer are fed like livestock, underscores the once inconceivable notion of shooting a deer in an enclosure. That was when he was a kid. After the 1960’s everything changed. The nostalgia for the lost frontier came roaring back and with it a particular brand of sportsman. Very tough guys indeed. To shoot a Bambi for its horns, takes bravura, gumption, courage and strength. Some say 35 million white tailed deer were here before the Europeans. By the end of the 19th century maybe 300,000 or so. The oil boom in Texas coincided perfectly with the trophy hunting ethos. When you can fetch 30,000 dollars for a top set of horns, why not? Chronic wasting disease, the deer equivalent of mad cow disease, first found in captive deer is now spreading to wild populations of ungulates. That’s all they need.

In 2015, the Boone and Crockett Club put out a statement criticizing the industry. “Such intensive manipulation of the natural characteristics of a wild deer and elk is a major departure from what occurs in nature, and challenges our understanding of the terms ‘wild’ and ‘wildlife,’” the statement read. In Texas, the conflict between the breeders and more traditional hunting opponents has been waged so intensely that it’s being called the “deer wars.”

The fear is that one day, trophy hunting will be banned outright. The reason is that most anything that moves will be very rare indeed. This is the decade the elite of the world know that humanity has to radically bring down carbon. It coincides with new mindset with regards to species and extinction and how we behave on this earth. Some 86 percent of the British, who started the trophy hunting craze, believe it should be abolished. Only 8 percent disagree. The elite. The wanton.

Those with bloodlust in their veins. The Environmental Secretary from 2017 to 2019, Michael Gove, said he would look at the evidence with a view to stopping the import of these “sick souvenirs” into the UK. We’ll see how far civilization gets. Sehkmet, the Egyptian lion goddess, will cast a very wary eye on our species. She happens to be the goddess of healing. Let’s see how much healing our species can actually get involved with.

To quote the evidence of evolution. As Mike Donovan of Ban Trophy Hunting Limited says, big horn sheep’s horns are not as big as they were according to the evidence in the Rockies because many of the bigger horned males have been eliminated. Much of the professional hunting industry in Alberta scoffs at the Wildlife Act. “Peer Reviewed Evidence based Science (PREBS) studies have found that trophy hunting of the fittest and biggest specimens causes genetic damage to species and that targeting the older wildlife, as hunters justify, decays the passing on of essential ancestral knowledge to future generations. From an economic perspective, hunting is a big loser. The amount of revenue generated by hunting and trophy hunting exceeds the costs to research, regulate, administer and to enforce the practice. Hunting in Alberta is subsidized by the Alberta taxpayer. Why does Alberta not transition from hunting to much more lucrative eco-tourism as has been done successfully elsewhere.”

To hunt the biggest and “best” is counter to evolution. We have seen cow elephants upon our arrival in Tanzania, corralling their calves out of fear. They knew what our species is capable of. Right in the midst of the mass slaughter in the Selous and many other areas in Africa their reaction only highlights the enormous stress they have experienced over the last decade and in their cellular memory since the 1980’s when more than 600,000 elephants were destroyed for trinkets. We have to change, for the children of the four legged and for ours who are climbing the walls with stress, a pandemic and concern for the future, especially for the future of Nature, which is no longer a given in any way, shape or form.

Sir Ed Davey says “Trophy hunting should be banned across the world and that ban should be enforced very strongly. It’s completely wrong that we’re allowing people to kill animals, particularly endangered species. The argument that it’s good for local communities is completely bogus. The money goes to the rich people and we could actually help communities far better by promoting nature tourism. There’s an alternative to this slaughter. We need the ban.”

Concerning the precipitous collapse of the lion population, Eduardo Goncalves writes, “It’s also worth pointing out that studies in Zambia and Zimbabwe which looked specifically into the impact of trophy hunting on lions showed that halting trophy hunting led to lion populations bouncing back strongly. Scientists looked at what happened to lion populations there before and after local moratoria there on lion trophy hunting. Revenues from trophy hunting therefore don’t come close to having any meaningful conservation impact even if the money did all find its way back into lion conservation (which it doesn’t. Locals we interviewed in Zimbabwe and elsewhere told us almost uniformly that trophy fee money disappears into what they called a ‘black hole’). On the other hand, nature tourism can realistically fund conservation. According to Loveridge, a lion like Cecil can generate revenues of around US $100,000 per year from eco-tourists. It literally pays to keep the animal alive, not shoot them.” Goncalves continues with usual clarity:

Bertrand Chardonnet is a former government wildlife adviser for a number of African countries. He is also co-chair of an IUCN Specialist group. He has studied the conservation and socio-economic benefits of nature tourism, as well as the impacts of trophy hunting. “Amongst countries still offering big game hunting, ecosystem degradation and decline of game species has led to the non-use of significant portions of former big game hunting areas – 72% in Tanzania and 40% in Zambia. In Tanzania, 110 out of 154 hunting zones have been abandoned because they are no longer profitable for big game/trophy hunting.” 

“The average spend in Tanzania by trophy hunting operators for anti-poaching efforts was US$0.18 per hectare – far off the Kenyan Wildlife Service’s figure of US$14. 

“When it comes to contributions to local communities, the average trophy hunting operator in Tanzania spent US$0.08 per hectare per year, compared with tourism concessions in Kenya’s Maasai Mara paying $40 per hectare per year – without counting the redistributions linked to entry fees and employee salaries.”443 UN World Tourism Organisation figures show that trophy hunting revenue accounts for just 1.8% of overall tourism revenues in African countries, and just a fraction of total GDP.”

And the IUCN has not come out either against or for trophy hunting, but there is a pro trophy hunting group within the IUCN, the Sustainable Use and Livelihoods committee. Very sadly there is evidence that the IUCN has received money from pro hunting groups. Corruption writ large. Certain Oxford scientists have received money from the Dallas Safari Club which automatically disqualifies them from the argument. Sorry!

Jane Goodall knows how diabolical the practice is. She has lent her voice against the practice.

The woman who redefined Man should know better than anyone alive. Her work has redefined the human condition like no-one else. The 200-plus years of murdering elephants with big tusks has had a noticeable effect – the tusks of elephants are getting smaller and tuskless elephants more common. This leaves them vulnerable: in a drought, for example, having shorter or non-existent tusks will make it difficult or impossible to dig down to water from under dry riverbeds, water that helps to sustain them in times of scarcity. And climate change has already resulted in longer droughts in many places. She writes:

Trophy hunters have always found most pleasure in going after the largest and most dangerous animals as this will give them stature in the eyes of their equally murderous friends. So they favour lions, elephants, rhinos, buffalos, tigers and black and polar bears. Rhinos are among the most endangered large terrestrial mammals. And, as is the case with elephants, they are also cursed with a part of their anatomy that has great value – their horns. Despite their precarious status, there are those who are desperate to kill them, to add them to their macabre collection of trophies, to secure the admiration of their like-minded friends. Just recently an American paid $350,000 to go and shoot a black rhino in Namibia. 

Polar bears are even more endangered than white rhinos yet the Canadian government still issues licences for non-indigenous people to kill them. When one considers that they are also threatened by climate change that has led to the melting of sea ice, both the selling of and desire to buy a permit seem equally shocking. 

Trophy hunters have always valued – as well antelopes – goats and sheep with spectacular horns or antlers. Some, like the Arabian and Scimitar horned oryx, were hunted to extinction in the wild. Passionate ‘sports’ hunters have always lusted after the most rare victims: Donald Trump Jr. managed to shoot a rare and endangered argali sheep in Mongolia in 2019 despite it being considered a national treasure there.

Trophy hunting must be on its last legs. Nature is too. Simba in the animated film will be the only thing left in 20 years if we are not very, very careful and have a change of heart. Lions have a very brave heart indeed. What about us? It will take courage to change direction. But we have to for the sake of the cubs and our own children, if we want them to have any hope of residing on this planet.

From a Trophy Hunter: “We are done. There is no way we can rationalize what we do to those who read this book. (“The Killing Game” by Eduardo Goncalves) The game is about over.” – Accurate Reloading’ forum

“If elephants were native to the United States, and endangered or threatened, they would not be hunted. And neither would lions, rhinos, or leopards.” – Dan Ashe, former Director, US Fish & Wildlife Service

“As a conservationist, and as someone directly involved in working to save persecuted species, I can say from first- hand experience that hunting for ‘sport’ is putting tremendous pressure on our wildlife. Trophy hunting is simply inexplicable and inexcusable, and those who practice it need to take a long, hard look at themselves and what they are doing.” – Damian Aspinall 

“Perhaps the biggest question of all – the question nobody seems to be asking here – is why, after tens of thousands of years of evolution, we as human beings seem to place more value on a dead animal than a live one? If murder is the best solution we can come up with, what does that say about us?” – Sarah Bennet, Green Global Travel 

“I’m totally opposed to trophy hunting and to the importing of animals that have been killed for trophy hunting. CITES needs to include trophy hunting because we have to protect those very rare animals that are often facing extinction.“ – Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour) 

“The government has allowed British trophy hunters to kill hundreds of elephants for their tusks. It has given hunters more permits to bring back lion trophies after the killing of Cecil than ever before. We are supposed to be a nation of animal lovers, yet the government’s policies on trophy hunting are contributing to extreme cruelty being inflicted on animals. Trophy hunting is driving endangered wildlife to extinction.” – Peter Egan 

“Trophy hunting is just vanity and stupidity. It is a ‘sport’ for cowards and bullies. The people who take part should all be in jail. They are committing crimes against the planet. How dare they think they can kill off our wildlife just to entertain themselves. We should hang our heads in shame at what is going on. We need a global ban and tough jail terms for all trophy hunting and poaching.” – Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE 

“I believe that the pastime of trophy hunting is one of the vilest and cruellest so-called sports that there is. The idea that a person can go out and for pleasure shoot and maim a proud wild animal is wholly unacceptable. To then allow the importation of the product of that slaughter is worse.” – Sir Roger Gale MP (Conservative) 

“I simply cannot understand what pleasure someone can get from killing an animal for kicks. It seems we are condemning wildlife to not just a cruel death but also to a needless and senseless extinction. We must halt the slide while there is still time. We should do everything we can to persuade the government to act swiftly.” – Sir David Jason OBE

“I find it abhorrent that anyone would consider killing animals for sport and then to mount them above their mantelpieces as some sort of trophy. That’s why I want to see it completely banned and I think the U.K. as a leading nation can make an important contribution to bringing a global ban.” – Ben Lake MP (Plaid Cymru) 

“The most important goal for conservation initiatives should be to reveal the value of live animals, instead of encouraging hunters to kill them in the name of conservation. There are better ways to conserve rare animals than killing them for sport or trophies.” – Ole Liodden, polar bear conservationist

“Our planet’s wildlife faces unprecedented threats through habitat destruction, from climate change, and crucially from trophy hunting. You have got bears, cheetahs, elephants and hippopotamuses who are killed for so-called sport. There’s nothing sporting about animal cruelty, suffering and death.” – Caroline Lucas MP (Green) 

“Elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs and rhinos are all fighting for their lives. We could see all of them go extinct within a generation. When you have got a scattered, dwindling population, the loss of a handful of animals doesn’t just cause a ripple effect – it can be like a tsunami wave. Trophy hunting has always been senseless cruelty. Letting people kill them because they think it’s entertaining is just insane.”- Bill Oddie OBE 

“Trophy hunters are not conservationists. They are people who kill animals for fun. They then make up excuses to try and justify their so-called ‘sport’. If trophy hunting was good for conservation, why have lion populations fallen from 450,000 in the 1950s to just 20,000 today? Why have elephant numbers fallen from over 1 million in the 1980s to just 400,000 today? Why are rhinos, cheetahs, leopards, hippos and giraffes all in serious trouble?” – Kevin Pietersen MBE

“It is a fallacy propagated by advocates of trophy and canned hunting that they are acting altruistically for conservation and indigenous communities, when the truth is that the majority of fees go to line the pockets of governments.” – Carol Royle 

“I think it’s disgraceful and disgusting in the current modern age that we allow people to indulge in the slaughter of wild animals purely for entertainment. It ought to be stopped.” – Tommy Shepherd MP (SNP)

“The numbers don’t lie: trophy hunters are slaughtering thousands of animals every year, and wildlife populations are plummeting. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the hunters’ claims that it’s good for ‘conservation’ are illogical. We need action by the government to stop this terrible trade and to help bring a worldwide end to all trophy hunting.” – Carol Vorderman MBE