When I was setting up this site I though quite hard about the introductory page where I mention there being ‘something of the hunter in the makeup of the wildlife photographer’. I wasn’t sure that this would be understood but it was really meant in the sense that taking wildlife photographs is a real challenge and requires a number of the hunter’s skills (e.g. patience, perseverance, knowledge of your subject, the craft ability to use your tools) to do well. Consequently, there is a great feeling of achievement when it all comes together; usually after many misses.
Just a few days later comes the news of a magnificent lion (Cecil) being killed in Zimbabwe. Not just killed but shot initially with an arrow, allowed to suffer for nearly two days and then being treated as a trophy. It’s an event like this that makes you realise the real gulf here. What I simply cannot fathom is the rationalisation that tries to justify trophy hunting: “I love nature and therefore I should go and kill some of it”. It’s utterly perverse. Not to mention, but I will, it’s even worse when it’s added to using ”…with a weapon that mortally wounds it and causes massive suffering”.
One of the greatest conservationists and wildlife artists of the 20th century, Sir Peter Scott, was originally a wildfowler. It was partly through this that he realised the damage being done to the environment and the real joy of observing and recording nature. He went on to found the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and was also a founder of the World Wide Fund for Nature which, with other conservation organisations, has done so much to encourage and foster the appreciation of our fragile environment. Nearly 100 years later, surely, we should have learnt from these examples and experiences. It seems that some people don’t, can’t or won’t. Therefore we should be outlawing this behaviour of trophy hunting as barbaric and having no rightful place in today’s world.
As a closing comment, while I’m utterly reviled by the actions of Dr Walter Palmer, the Minneapolis Dentist who inflicted the cruel arrow wound and death on Cecil I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the guy. Not for the backlash he has received (I imagine his dental practice will not do so well in future; I’d not let him in my mouth with a drill if he is that incompetent with a bow) but because it seems he has had the opportunity to travel widely but has seen, understood, and learnt nothing of our world…
Image: Credit NASA (Public Domain). And, for reference, Zimbabwe is approximately a little left of centre.