Exposing the Big Game

Forget Hunters' Feeble Rationalizations and Trust Your Gut Feelings: Making Sport of Killing Is Not Healthy Human Behavior

Exposing the Big Game

Should Trophy Hunting remain legal?


Omila, Science And Environment WriterOpinion / Science And Environment

Read Time:4 Minutes

“Ever since we arrived on this planet as a species, we’ve cut them down, dug them up, burnt them and poisoned them. Today we are doing so on a greater scale than ever.” – Sir David Attenborough

I start my article with this quote not only out of respect to its author, climate change activist David Attenborough, but due to its succinct message.

This quote is so brilliant because it can be interpreted in so many ways. This quote encapsulates how we, as the human species, have affected every element of the earth’s circle of life through our insensitive desire to be at the top of the food chain.

The “them” can apply to anything: fossil fuels, wildlife, the ocean and, most importantly, the animals that we live side by side with.

In my eyes, I see this quote as a message to the world and its leaders on why trophy hunting (the act of killing a wild animal for sport) should not remain legal any longer.

Most people struggle to understand why hunters want to take life from such beautiful animals.

The statistics from a 2016 report from the International Fund for Animal Welfare found that 1.7 million hunting trophies were traded between nations between 2004 and 2014, of which 200,000 were endangered.”

Even though this data was collected a few years ago, it still highlights the ever increasing number of trophies being exported and traded, meaning more and more animals are being killed. Which I believe needs to stop.

There is an ongoing biodiversity crisis on our planet. Biodiversity refers to the variety of animals and life on earth and sadly this is ever decreasing. A statistic from CareOurEarth says that the current rate of global extinction is 100 times higher than the average over the last million years.

Serious action needs to take place in order to prevent any more of the Earth’s biodiversity from being lost- and this must start with change. Trophy hunting laws might be a good place to start.

File:Cecil the lion at Hwange National Park (4516560206).jpg
Walter Palmer’s killing of Cecil made international news in 2015. It is estimated that hunting has led to the lion species’ gene pool shrinking by 15 percent in the space of 100 years.

This lion, Cecil, lived in Hwange National Park in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe. On the 2nd July 2015, he was killed by American trophy hunter Walter Palmer. Cecil was allegedly lured out of his enclosure then shot with a bow and arrow and left there in extreme pain. Palmer then came back the next day to shoot the lion. On discovery that Palmer had a permit, making the murder legal, controversy arose. A petition was created to change laws on big game hunts in Zimbabwe.

There have been numerous cases where hunters have told journalists and news broadcasters that there is a conservation side to trophy hunting. Some argue that the land allocated for trophy hunting provides protection to species’ habitats and can benefit local communities with both employment and wildlife (when done correctly).  Canned hunting in particular means the animals are bred and the species are saved from otherwise definite extinction in the wild.

And yet the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation found that that only 3% of hunting revenue went to causes such as helping communities. This tells us that there is only a minor contribution to communities and they are able to cope with or without the revenue brought in, even before any ethical considerations.

These so called acts of conservation make the wildlife into an economical asset, which does not solve the problem- rather, it endangers species by giving them an economic value that humans might seek out. The treatment of species which are not yet endangered as assets to be collected or traded will surely lead them to the same fate as those already under threat.

Fortunately, there are wildlife conservation examples to be seen, mainly in Africa, which help preserve suffering species from game hunting. An example is The Makalali Game Reserve ,which is one of South Africa’s private reserves. Their aim is to counteract illegal hunting and wildlife trade by game hunters preying on critically endangered animals. The conservation area gives shelter to the animals known as ‘The Big 5’: lions, elephants, leopards, buffaloes and rhinos.

File:Herd of Elephants.jpg
Elephants are in the top five most sought after animals for trophy hunters.

These animals are the most likely to be hunted due to their distinctive features; whether that is tusks from an elephant or a fur coat from a leopard- these are financial opportunities to hunters, who will either illegally or legally sell these items as commodities, or keep them for their own display.

The ban of trophies being imported to the UK through new laws has seen improvement, and is expected to dis-incentivise hunters who can no longer bring their trophies home. This is a glint of hope but there is a lot that still needs to be done.

I end this article with yet another quote by Sir David for the younger generation to ponder on.

“Cherish the natural world, because you are a part of it and you depend on it.”

Feature lion image © Kevin Pluck via Wikimedia Commons

Cecil the lion picture via Wikimedia Commons © Daughter#3

Antelope in the grass © Stevepb via Wikimedia Commons

Elephants picture © Benh Lieu Song via Wikimedia Commons

House members reintroduce bill to ban cub petting, keeping big cats as pets

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

January 11, 2021 0 Comments

House members reintroduce bill to ban cub petting, keeping big cats as pets

Americans today are more aware than ever before about the horrors that big cats endure in captivity at the hands of exhibitors and roadside zoo owners. Photo by the HSUS236SHARES

A bill that would prohibit public contact with big cats like tigers, lions and leopards and ban the possession of these animals as pets was swiftly reintroduced in the U.S. House today, suggesting that the measure is poised for early action in Congress.

The Big Cat Public Safety Act had already passed the House in the last Congress with nearly two-thirds of members supporting it but the session ended before it could be taken up by the Senate. It was reintroduced today by Reps. Michael Quigley, D-Ill., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn, the original sponsors of the bill, and we will be working with all of our might to ensure it becomes law.

Americans today are more aware than ever before about the horrors that big cats endure in captivity at the hands of exhibitors and roadside zoo owners like Joe ExoticTim StarkKevin “Doc” Antle and Jeff Lowe. Cub-petting activities offered by these ramshackle operations provide baby tigers, lions and other big cats for the public to pet, feed, play with and be photographed with. Some exhibitors haul big cat cubs to fairs, festivals, shopping malls and other random venues and charge people to interact with the babies.

As Humane Society of the United States undercover investigations have revealed, these practices inflict cruelty and suffering on so many levels. Tigers are bred continually in order to provide a steady supply of infants. The cubs are torn from their mothers at birth. They are fed irregularly, constantly woken from their sleep, and physically abused when they resist being endlessly handled. When the cubs reach three to four months of age and are too big for public contact, they are typically warehoused at roadside zoos or pseudo sanctuaries, or sold as pets to make way for more infant cubs. This constant cycle of breeding and dumping big cats is why we have such a large surplus of captive big cats in the United States.

Conservationists have also long feared that tigers discarded from the cub petting industry may be feeding the illegal market for animal parts used in traditional Asian medicine.

The pandemic has provided yet another reason to ban cub petting. The coronavirus has been found in tigers, lions and snow leopards in captivity, leading the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue a rare advisory to big cat exhibitors to discontinue hands-on encounters with wild cats in the interests of public safety and animal welfare.

There is neither doubt nor debate among a majority of Americans that we need the Big Cat Public Safety Act to become law. This is commonsense legislation and it is long overdue. No one needs a pet tiger or lion in their backyard or garage, and no one needs to take a selfie with one, especially at such tremendous cost to the animals and at such risk to human and animal safety. Please join us in urging your U.S. Representative to cosponsor and push for the passage of this bill without delay.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Wild animals are reclaiming cities and streets during coronavirus lockdown

Afoot and light-hearted, they’re taking to the open road.

Amid the global lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus, striking images taken in South Africa’s popular Kruger National Park — which has remained shut since March 25 — show a pride of some 15 lions napping in the middle of an empty paved road.

CNN reports that on any typical day, this area would be packed with tourists on safari excursions. But that doesn’t mean that the travelers would get to experience this sight.

“This lion pride are usually resident on Kempiana Contractual Park, an area Kruger tourists do not see,” the park tweeted Wednesday. “This afternoon they were lying on the tar road just outside of Orpen Rest Camp.”

That isn’t the only atypical sight.

“Lying on the road during the daytime is unusual because under normal circumstances there would be traffic and that pushes them into the bush,” Kruger spokesman Isaac Phaahla tells CNN. “They just occupy places they would normally shun when there are tourists … People should remember that [Kruger] is still a largely wild area and in the absence of humans, wildlife is more active.”

It isn’t just Kruger that’s shut down. Despite initially announcing a 21-day lockdown for the country, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in early April that he would extend the quarantine at least until the end of the month.

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Monkeys in India sit outside during quarantine.AFP via Getty Images

This isn’t just a sight limited to South Africa. Worldwide, with the coronavirus keeping humans inside, wild animals have taken to the streets to have their own play — even in cities. People in New Delhi have spotted monkeys looking for food in an alleyway lined with closed shops. In Venice, Italy, clear blue canals have lured swans and fish before tourists return in gondolas.

Here’s a look at some more.

You goat to be kidding me

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Mountain goats roamed Llandudno, Wales, as people remained inside under coronavirus-related lockdown.Getty Images

In the north of Wales, herds of wild mountain goats have claimed the empty streets of Llandudno as their own. Known as the Great Orme Kashmiri goats, they typically live on a nearby hill that looks over the town, rarely heading into it. North Wales police reportedly said the agency received a call about the wandering herd — which had been grazing on people’s hedges and gardens — but there was no need to intervene.

“We are not aware of officers attending to them as they usually make their own way back,” the police said.

Mountain goats take over Welsh town

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A purrfect match

More locally, 50-year-old Latonya “Sassee” Walker — who’s cared for Canarsie’s wild cat population for a decade, has doubled the number of cats she looks after. She told The Post that typically she cares for four colonies of feral cats. But with many elderly folks stuck inside, she’s taken on more. She brings the cats dry food, wet food and water, predicting she’ll spend more than $600 this month because with restaurants shut, there’s no garbage for them to eat. She’s even brought them in to be spayed and neutered.

“The cats have no clue what’s going on because nothing has changed for them,” she says. “It’s not in my DNA to see a cat suffering and not do anything about it. I’m equipped to make a cat’s life better, so I’m going to.”

March of the penguins

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This penguin, named Wellington, got to meet a Beluga whale at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.SHEDD AQUARIUM via REUTERS

In March, with Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium closed to the public, penguins got the opportunity to explore their home thanks to no human visitors wandering about.

“Without guests in the building, caretakers are getting creative in how they provide enrichment to animals,” the aquarium told the Chicago Tribune. “Introducing new experiences, activities, foods and more to keep them active, encourages them to explore, problem-solve and express natural behaviors.”

With the aquarium closed to humans, penguins take opportunity to explore and visit other animals

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That means some penguins got to meet other aquarium inhabitants. One of them, a penguin named Wellington, saw Shedd’s Amazon Rising exhibit, looking around at the fish tanks with his head spinning in wonder. The fish even looked back.

“The black-barred silver dollars also seemed interested in their unusual visitors,” the caretakers tweeted.

Case of seized lion bones moving forward, NGO says

Niem Chheng | Publication date 03 March 2020 | 23:27 ICT Share Content image – Phnom Penh Post The lion bones seized in December are being examined. Wildlife alliance

Authorities on Monday opened packages of more than 280 lion bones seized in December at the Phnom Penh International Airport as the case progresses against the suspected owners who remain behind bars, said NGO Wildlife Alliance.

It said the shipment of 281kg of suspected lion bones smuggled from South Africa was opened on Monday while two Vietnamese suspects remained in jail. Cambodian Customs officials were investigating the case, it noted.

“Cambodia is a well-known transit country in the illegal wildlife trade for products heading to Vietnam and China. It is suspected that the lion bones were intended to be transported to Vietnam where they are popular in traditional medicines.

“Wildlife Alliance is pleased to once again be working with our colleagues in Customs in another major Africa-Asia wildlife trafficking case,” the NGO said.

Last December, joint forces from the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Counterfeit Products Committee, Customs officials, Camcontrol officials and a Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor seized the lion bones at the airport and arrested two Vietnamese nationals.

Court spokesman Kuch Kimlong, the Anti-Counterfeit Products Committee and Wildlife Alliance could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Last year, the Ministry of Environment warned souvenir vendors of trafficked goods made of exotic bones and wild animals that they would face legal action similar to those involved in money laundering and financing terrorism.

The notice came after 32 businesses in Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk province were found to be selling souvenirs made from rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory.

In February, UK-based Traffic, an NGO working on anti-wildlife trade, released a report saying Cambodia had seized more than 17,000kg of ivory from 2009 to 2018, including a seizure of more than 3.2 tonnes of ivory in 2018 that came from Mozambique.

It said more than 780 ivory products were recorded in 10 shops in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in 2015, with hundreds more recorded in 2019. It said almost 25,000 live mammals, birds and reptiles were seized from 2007 to 2015.

The NGO said the challenges for Cambodia in combating wildlife crimes were low penalties for criminals which did not serve as deterrents, difficulty in effectively implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the country being a transit point for transnational organised crime groups en route to Vietnam or China.

Meanwhile, the World Wildlife Fund Asia Pacific offices on Tuesday applauded China for its decision to ban the trade of wild animals and end unregulated wildlife trade, linking the consumption of wildlife to the possible cause of Covid-19.

WWF regional director for Asia Pacific Christy Williams said in a press statement that Southeast Asian countries must learn from China’s example and ban the sales of wild meat for the health of their citizens and to prevent damage to their economies, as is happening currently due to Covid-19.

“This means that they must stop the trade from moving into their territories. As we saw in the case of the domestic ivory ban in China, the trade will just move across borders where enforcement is less robust, creating new trade hotspots,” Williams said.


Fury as lions who mauled keeper set to face ‘death sentence’

Fury as lions who mauled keeper set to face 'death sentence'Image: Swane Van Wyk / Facebook

Animal rights activists are campaigning to save a group of lions who look set to be shot after they mauled their keeper to death. 

Swane van Wyke was killed by the animals while going about her routine tasks in their enclosure at Zwartkloof Private Game Reserve in Limpopo, South Africa.

An outpouring of grief from the tragedy has led some to call for the animals to be killed in response to the incident.

Officials from the zoo said in a statement: “We are obtaining advice from the proper authorities and agents in order for us to make an informed decision.”

Swane van Wyke was found collapsed in the enclosure with bite and claw wounds, and was pronounced dead on the scene by paramedics.

Fury as lions who mauled keeper set to face 'death sentence'
Image: Swane Van Wyk / Facebook
Fury as lions who mauled keeper set to face 'death sentence'
Image: Swane Van Wyk / Facebook


Activists say the case is further evidence that lions should not be kept in captivity at zoos.

Drew Abrahamson, of animal welfare group Captured in Africa (CIA), told SAPeople: “It’s sad yet again, that an innocent person has been attacked and lost her life, due to the confinement and abuse of lions in South Africa.

“Whilst the world’s conservation, wildlife and tourism professionals have long denounced this diabolical lion breeding industry, it’s further saddening to see that South African authorities continue to allow this unnatural industry to continue.”

Welfare group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals reinforced calls to save the lions. “It seems as though the appropriate informed decision would be to retire all the animals at Zwartkloof to reputable sanctuaries instead of caging them for human amusement and endangering their lives as well as those of the ranch’s workers,” the group said.

“The facility states on its website that it houses buffaloes, zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, leopards, and others and rents out rooms on site to people seeking a ‘bush experience’.

“No reputable facility would allow dangerous contact like this.”

Police confirmed the lion keeper was performing her regular duties when the lions attacked her.

It is not known the exact circumstances in which she was attacked, or how many lions were involved. Police said it is the responsibility of the zoo to ensure staff safety in animal enclosures.

What does this incident say about lion captivity? What should happen to the lions involved in the death of their keeper? Share this story!

Lion “Feeling Cute…Might Eat a Poacher Later”

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Lion trade: The secret threat faced by SA’s tourism industry


A recent study has shown that nearly half of the captive lion facilities in SA are directly linked to tourism through offering one or more unethical activities. Picture: Supplied

Annually, thousands of tourists flock to South Africa to experience our unique wildlife. But behind this booming industry is an ugly truth, many wildlife encounters support the mistreatment of iconic species, such as lions.

Tourism plays a vital role in job creation and contributed over R130-billion to the economy in 2017, about 2.9% of the total gross domestic product (GDP).

However, exploitative wildlife interactions such as cub petting, walking with lions and the associated volun-tourism sectors are all closely linked to the captive predator breeding, canned hunting and lion bone trade in South Africa. All of which has the potential to drastically damage South Africa’s reputation as a tourist destination.

A recent study has shown that nearly half of the captive lion facilities in South Africa are directly linked to tourism through offering one or more of these unethical activities, explained Fiona Miles, country director of FOUR PAWS in South Africa, one of the largest national animal welfare organisations fighting for the protection of big cats.

Dragging down the South African name


“Although global trends in responsible tourism are showing that tourism is moving away from such exploitative captive wildlife interactions, many tour operators at home and abroad continue to promote these activities to their clients,” said Miles.

“Local and international visitors carry on supporting hands-on captive wildlife facilities either through a lack of awareness or purely to get that perfect wildlife selfie.”

In addition, the captive lion trade has the potential to tarnish South Africa’s reputation as a conservation leader.

A recent Legacy Report of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism in the Fifth Parliament on the effects of wildlife interaction found the safari niche market has been marred by the growth of animal interactions and canned hunting, which have “damaged the country’s brand as a champion of wildlife conservation”.

According to a report by the South African Institute of International Affairs on the economics of captive predator breeding in South Africa, our tourism brand value could potentially be negatively affected by as much as R54 billion loss in revenue over the next decade, if the captive lion breeding industry is allowed to thrive.

Take a stand


But there is a way to prevent further damage to our image as a tourism destination, believes Miles, and this starts with ending the demand for these devastating activities.

“Collectively, we need to stop supporting any type of cub petting, walking with predators or associated volunteering options, whether this involves lions, tigers, or cheetahs, as none of these activities support conservation of the species in the wild, as many facilities would like you to believe,” added Miles.

“It is also time for all of the establishments offering these activities to put a stop to it.”

This is why FOUR PAWS is challenging both the tourism industry and the public to commit to their Lion Longevity Oath: A commitment to end all support of activities and interaction with captivate lions and raise awareness of lion trade and canned lion hunting.

Six major tour operator companies have already signed the oath in against visiting establishments where lion cub and other animal interactions take place.