My newsfeed has been chock full of angry rants and disgusted opinions of Melissa Bachman - the girl who hunted a lion (among other animals) and then posted the image on twitter. I really don't want the photo on my blog so the link is all you're going to get.
Obviously because everyone knows I worked in Africa saving the lions I have been asked a million times (and sometimes given an unsolicited opinion) about how angry I must be toward the woman.
Actually. Because I've worked in Africa to save lions, I'm not mad at all.
Don't get me wrong - do I dream of waking up and seeing a dead lion or bear all over my newsfeed? Not a chance - I thought it was totally gross. I wasn't bothered in the slightest about the other animals. Hunting a zebra is like hunting a deer, same with the kangaroo. Although I don't see a photo of her with a Kangaroo, this is the perfect example because I know so many Americans think that eating Kangaroo meat is gross but Kangaroo are pests to Australians - much like deer are to us. As Americans it can be difficult to see a cute, exotic animal that we put in our zoos as a nuisance, but the simple fact is that they can be a nuisance and their population needs to be controlled.
Hunters are NOT the enemy of conservation. Hunters. Are. Not. The. Enemy. Say it with me now: hunters are not the enemy of conservation. Hunters have a deep understanding of animal populations and sustainability. They pay fees that (for the most part) go back to the area they are hunting in and are used toward conservation and preservation efforts. Shooting a lion ain't cheap. And that $15,000 (or so - some are higher, some are lower) legally paid fee goes back to the park in which the lion was shot and helps keep the place clean and safe for both animals and humans. The sheer cost of the license also acts as a preventative measure from keeping too many people hunting the big wildlife like lions and bears.
Now let's discuss what was done with the meat. As someone who has never been anti-hunting, I do firmly believe that the meat should not be wasted. Initial research into Melissa's story tells me that the meat from the animals she hunts goes to locals who need food. Think lion meat is gross? Remind yourself what a first world luxury it is to be picky about our food.
So just to recap: she hunted legally, with a paid license, and the meat was used for good and not evil.
A lot of complaints included an argument that she "didn't hunt the lion, she shot it with a bullet." I'm not really sure how to reply to that, so I will address stalking hunting versus canned hunting.
A true hunter stalks her prey. Just as a lion stalks a zebra or a bird stalks a bug. She waits for hours. She remains quiet. She endures a LOT of downtime. Anyone who knows me knows this is where I would have a serious problem. I just can't sit quietly for hours. :) But what you don't hear about is the countless times she did not end up with a kill or the countless hunters who return from Africa without a trophy. Not to mention the skill it takes to shoot a moving animal. Just because you have a gun does not mean you have an advantage over an animal. Seriously, people who shoot guns have skills. I tried to shoot a gun in Africa and not only did I miss the bottle targets, I'm pretty sure I missed the MOUNTAIN behind them. Would you say a cheetah who can outrun an impala and has sharp claws and teeth is cheating at the hunting game? So why is a skilled marksman who is willing to take the time and energy to hunt an animal cheating because she uses a gun?
Canned hunting is gross. Totally disgusting. Canned hunters are rich pricks who have no right to take home their trophies. BLECK. Canned hunting means the lion (or other wildlife) is kept in a cage or small enclosure and basically shot at near blank range. Gross. Livid. Unfortunately, canned hunting is still legal in many African countries. These people are losers.
And the biggest losers of all? POACHERS.
noun: poacher; plural noun: poachers
a person who hunts or catches game or fish illegally.
A poacher pays no fee, has no sense of conservation, and wastes all part of the animal except that which will make him the big bucks. In other words, one poacher may kill more than a "fair" share of Rhino simply for the horn. The rest of the body is left to rot in the sun. Poachers are the reasons that animal populations have taken such hits. Poachers are the enemy of conservation. They don't follow rules, they don't care about number counts or population control. All of the anger directed at Melissa Bachman is totally misguided and totally misdirected. Instead, look into anti-poaching groups.
I wasn't going to comment on the change.org petition. I'm definitely not going to link you to it. But I had to laugh that in the body of the text it says "as a taxpayer" which is fine, except I can sign it. I definitely don't pay taxes in South Africa. In fact, I'm pretty sure most South Africans (and all of the ones I've talked to) understand that she brought a LOT of money into their country - between the fee for the hunt, hiring the personnel, staying and eating in the country, not to mention the publicity. In areas where there are animals to be hunted (this is true in the US and abroad), a huge amount of revenue and jobs are created by the legal hunting industry.
And all of the anti-animal cruelty people, I have total respect for you. But hunters don't torture animals. They don't force them to live in disgusting conditions and eat their own filth. They don't overfeed them in an effort to fatten them up. They allow them to live in their wild habitats and then kill them quickly and efficiently. Without hunters acting as population control, animals would actual suffer from more disease and incest and entire species would suffer greatly. I fully support your right to fight the meat industry, I really do. In my opinion, the meat industry has a long way to go to compete with the humane ways of the hunter.