I was fortunate to be invited to spend a night in Swaziland’s premiere game park, Mkhaya, recently, where I took this picture of a small family of kudu.
It occurs to me that whilst there has been a huge outpouring of horror in Britain, and here in South Africa at the killing of a famed lion, Cecil, by a dentist from America, it is just possible that there is a large mass of people out there who do not understand how aberrant trophy hunting is to many of us who live in the beauty and wonder of Africa.
The thought that sightings like these I have included might become a thing of the past makes us angry. Angry because it is mainly people who do not live here, who have no affinity for our bush, who come and callously take lives for a reason that to us is unfathomable, be it rhino horn for potency, ivory for decoration, or heads to sightlessly adorn walls. I have watched television programmes where people foreign to Africa come and claim to be “Lion whisperers” and ponce around the bush yelling and screaming at the dignified kings of the savannah, waving sticks in their faces to make them cower, showing their “respect” for the great white man from across the ocean! The utter savagery of the cheek of such egos, the total lack of regard or respect for these great cats, sets my teeth on edge.
To my thinking, killing simply for the sake of it, call it sport if you will, shows a further lack of respect for God’s creation. I know there is an argument for cows, sheep, goats and pigs too, but in the main these are slaughtered humanely, there is no question of extinction hanging over their heads, and they are killed as food, not trophies. There is a distinct difference.
The onus to stop the killing is being put on the heads of African governments, which is fair to a degree. But I think the governments of those nationals who boast the most about their killing sprees should also take some initiative. Start a register of hunters, limit permits allowing trophies to be brought home to their countries, introduce laws to protect their own wildlife and above all, educate, educate, educate about the value of the natural world around us.
I don’t know what all can or should be done, but I do know that I want the killing to stop. I don’t want to be confronted with photographs of mutilated rhino carcases, and pictures of magnificent lions, elephants, buffaloes, bears, alligators grotesquely posed with their murderers grinning maniacally in victory.
I want the killing to stop. Please!