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

Trophy hunters, you’re wrong. Dead wrong.

Trophy hunting hurts, not helps, conservation.ByCyril Christo | Jan. 25, 2021,


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“Trophy hunting and poaching are essentially the same, except that trophy hunters pay thousands of dollars for the pleasure.  Or the American taxpayer pays for it—Donald Trump’s sons have regularly hunted endangered species at tax-payer’s expense because security guards go with them.  And it’s hard to see where sport is involved—one of the president’s sons killed an elephant by shooting a high-powered rifle at him from a plane, and all trophy hunters hunt with guides or guards to protect them. In contrast, most of the poachers are from the local populations and are hunting because they’re far from rich and need the money. But the result is exactly the same—literally thousands of animals, especially endangered species, are killed by these people.”

     —Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

“We live in a time of ‘consumer civilization’ and elephants and lions…for hunters on safari, are fundamentally, like cars and refrigerators: objects that are ‘consumed’, that is, destroyed, to give way to others which are better or cheaper…But whereas cars and refrigerators can be replaced with the greatest ease, lions and elephants, once they are’ consumed’ disappear forever.”  

       —Alberto Moravia, “Which Tribe do You Belong To?,” 1972

“I do not want to live on a planet where there are no lions anymore.”

      —Werner Herzog

Photo credit: Lysander Christo

How many times have we heard rangers say, why should I spend years, possibly sacrifice my life for a lion, or elephant or rhino, if someone is going to come to this park and kill these animals? “These animals are sacred,” a ranger told us in the Selous, one of the main centers of the elephant poaching crisis a decade ago, where 50,000 were killed in Tanzania alone, due to poaching. We had gone to Tanzania 20 years ago and there were more than 100,000 elephants then. What happened? They were shot and destroyed by the poaching crisis, in the same areas where trophy hunting was allowed to exist. Today there may be only about 40,000 in all of Tanzania. Over 60 percent loss. A supreme tragedy.

While some celebrities have been attacked recently for voicing their concern about trophy hunting, specifically in The Guardian article of January 15, they are not the voices we should be worried about. They are not working against conservation. They may not have the pedigrees and scientific know how some are invested in. But they are also not accepting donations from hunting lobbyists. They are not making baseless claims, they are simply concerned citizens who are very worried that their children may indeed only have the fictional “Lion King” to witness in the not very far-off future. Because the lion is trending towards extinction. They are not basing their stance on “myths” as Pieter Kat of Lion Aid exclaims and ignoring science. Rather it is the other way around. As he underscores, “Trophy hunting proponents have never been able to clearly show that trophy hunting actually benefits the survival and conservation of targeted species, and instead rely on soundbites and slogans. The list of species supposedly benefiting from trophy hunting in the article is laughable – none of them have flourished because of trophy hunting. Sure, rhino numbers have increased in South Africa, but only because they were placed in private ownership on game farms where the owners could do what they wanted with them. Trophy hunters were one source of income for these rhino farmers, but rhinos were removed from the wild to stock the farms, and no privately held rhino can in any way be seen to contribute to conservation of the wild population. It is dumbfounding to see that lions are also on the list of species “conserved” by trophy hunters as there is absolutely no evidence of this – to the contrary, there are multiple examples where significant damage has been caused to lion populations living at the borders of national parks that abut hunting concessions.”

If one needs any more proof … a case in point, just a few days ago, a guide in Ruaha, Tanzania, one of the last great strongholds of the lion on the entire continent, wrote me to say that lions are not doing as well as they used to in Ruaha. Why? Because only a few miles away are several hunting concessions targeting lions. He should know what he is talking about. He was born a few miles from the park and has been a guide for more than 15 years. Lions don’t stay put. They move around and once outside the park’s perimeters, if there are trophy hunters eager to blow their brains out, that’s what happens. Areas that have allowed trophy hunting as in the Selous have been ransacked, especially in the last decade. Elephants were massacred as they haven’t been in 30 years.

The children without degrees, without science backgrounds, without PhD’s, know that we are diminishing nature almost beyond repair. As the great philosopher Kant once said, we are not the “titular lords of nature.” But we continue to act as if we were. Africa’s native people did not knock out 10 million elephants in the last century. Foreigners did. From Europe, America and of late, Asia. Native people, pastoralists from the Simien mountains in Ethiopia, to the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Mara in Kenya, and all over Africa were kicked off their lands to make way for wildlife reserves and some of these were made into hunting concessions. All those like Roosevelt who triumphantly made Africa their playground. 

The local people were evicted, yes, even for reserves, and National Parks, all in the name of “green” colonialism as Guillaume Blanc makes abundantly clear in his book “L’Invention du Colonialisme Vert” (Flammarion 2020). As European countries and America have hugely benefited from the gifts of Africa’s lands over the last century, it will be time for greater investments to be made to the oldest continent or else the movie the “Lion King” will indeed be all that the children have to look forward to. The practice of trophy hunting for the sheer sake of killing is entirely a foreign construct. 

Make no mistake. Where trophy hunting is allowed, poaching often follows. While the 200 million dollar trophy business – industry is doing well, it is not sustainable for the long term survival of species involved. Safari clubs pay researchers and scientists to vindicate their claims. In corrupt countries “poor governance and weak regulation” thrive according to Kat of Lion Aid, which leads to “unsustainable trophy hunting.”

When is the wildlife of the world ever going to be able to breathe? Hopefully before they breathe their last because with climate change creating a fury in the gestation of animals worldwide, one day any kind of trophy hunting will be considered a barbarity. As animals have shorter gestation periods they end up having earlier than expected births, which affects feeding patterns and many other cycles humans have altered over the last few decades.

The best reason to be much more circumspect about whether to even want to kill any animals for trophies is that their very life support system is being undermined. A few cases in point. Gray whales have been washing up on shore in the dozens the last few years. An endangered species having a hell of a time holding on, hunting or no hunting. The mass mortality of saiga antelope in central Asia where 200,000 just keeled over back in 2015, the year of the Paris Climate Agreement. The culprit? High temperature and humidity helped bacterium pasteurella multocida type B to run rampant. In the blood the bacteria create toxins that breaks down the immune system. The mortality rate was 100 percent. The same kind of event happened with 300 elephants in Botswana in the summer of 2020, that fateful year due to cyanobacteria poisoning in waterholes. Do we need any more proof that we need to cool our jets, particularly the bullets that come flying out of our guns, aimed at the innocent, not for food but for vanity?

It is not just our immune systems that are breaking down, it is Nature’s as well. And frogs and fish and birds. It is our very place in the world that is unravelling. That is one very good and enormous reason why trophy hunting will have to be replaced with a greater humane, moral and philanthropic consideration from the elite. If the moral argument isn’t enough for making trophy hunting a thing of the past, then perhaps the climate chaos, the irrevocably altered temperature gradient of existence that will force us to change our ways. Once and for all.

Photo credit: Lysander Christo

Hunting to survive belonged to the first peoples of the world long before colonialism started to bag lions and tigers and bears. Of course, the bounty Europeans put on wolves could fill entire ledgers over the last 2,000 years. And what the Roman Emperors did with gladiators mutilating innocent predators from Africa and the Middle East to entertain their guests was shameful. We have not changed much. But in Africa, you would be hard put to find any African needing meat, who would hunt for fun. Now that we have lost 70 percent of the world’s animal population, we need a new act in our social behavior towards other species. The bacteria and microbes are unto us. And bagging large game won’t mean much when we’re the one’s being decimated by the soldiers of plague. 

Long ago, a remarkable writer called Elspeth Huxley who knew Kenya like the back of her hand, wrote, “It isn’t sport; it isn’t even exciting. True sport involves equality between the rivals, you see. They give handicaps in everything from horse racing to ping pong, in order to achieve a rough equality; but they never give a handicap to the beast. It isn’t sport its murder. There’s only one sporting way to hunt big game, and that’s the old way, the way these natives follow- to hunt on foot with spears and bows and arrow, weapons a man can make himself out of materials ready to his hand. That’s fair and that’s fun. It’s a battle of wits between one man and one beast: a test of which can command the greatest cunning, the keenest senses, the highest skill. Man, if he uses his wits, can usually win; but it’s a victory worth having, because it doesn’t go to the coward or the dolt. So you have the brains and resources of every one from geniuses like Priestley and Pasteur to modern big business combines like ICI and du Pong, pitted against the wits of one poor African lion.” And as for the element of danger. Huxley explains, “There’s no danger at all in going after some wretched animal, whose only idea is to escape, armed with a battery of expensive high velocity rifles and flanked by a couple of professional sharpshooters. If any one wants to hunt, let him use a bow and arrow and match his wits against those of a lion or an elephant, as some of these natives do.” 

Fortunately we have met with these early elephant hunters, the best on earth and they used bows and arrows exactly to Huxley’s recommendations except that they had been on the land tens of thousands of years before the European powers ransacked and desecrated the bush. The question today remains, how much are we willing to spend on conservation to make sure the wild holds on to even a glimmer of itself? The facts speak for themselves. While millions of dollars are spent on animals being bagged, the local communities do not pocket the money…It goes to the hunting factions. It goes to the government. It goes to private industry. And animals and the local people do not benefit. It is the last great gasp of colonialism in the most mercenary sense. 

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, who knew a thing or two about the old ways and who actually wrote “The Old Way: A Story of the First People” (2007) and who authored the classic on the oldest people on earth, the Bushmen, in “The Harmless People” (1959), exclaimed that “trophy hunting and poaching are essentially the same.”  She should know. She spent serious time in Botswana in the 1950s before most of us were even born. And she knew the greatest hunters on earth intimately. For people to survive on the ground for 80,000 years straight is no mean feat. For 1,500 centuries humans roamed as hunting clans and survived and killed in order to eat and clothe themselves. Our civilization will have claimed maybe 3,000 years, industrial society, maybe 200 years. And in that short period we have brought the earth to its knees.

Areas that have allowed trophy hunting as in the Selous have been ransacked, especially in the last decade. Elephants were massacred as they haven’t been in 30 years because of a wayward morality spent on the lapels of vanity.

Save African Animals’s report “The Myth of Trophy Hunting as Conservation” underscores the same argument, that limited “legal” hunting is indeed a “smokescreen” for poaching. Considering mammals all over the world are experiencing the effects of viral infections and climate change due to changes in the marine or land environment, it would behoove all of us, to rethink our love affair with carcasses and animal body parts. It seems obscene and insane to be taking part in these grim and gruesome rituals when Nature is facing upheaval.

Behold the financial argument. Money is involved. It helps the local communities. Actually, hardly any money goes to the indigenous people.

Kat adds as for “community support” – schools, clinics, fees paid, durable employment – there is precious little evidence as the trophy hunting industry has always worked under veils of opacity, tax avoidance, bribery, false financial reporting and similar murkiness. Claims of “sustainable” hunting are largely unsatisfactory as the hunting operators do not allow independent assessments of trophy species’ population numbers in their areas – quotas are largely assigned on the basis of the operators’ own population counts and negotiations with wildlife authorities. With regard to “saving millions of acres for wildlife” – the facts again are not there. This is most clearly evidenced by the lack of interest in current tenders for hunting areas, as 40 percent of former hunting areas in Zambia and up to 70 percent in Tanzania are so devoid of wildlife that hunting operators have lost all interest. And finally, claims that hunting operators effectively control poaching in their concessions — there is no worse example of this myth than the Selous Game Reserve made up of 80 percent hunting blocks — where elephant carcasses were piled up high and deep during the recent poaching epidemic in Tanzania.

Much of the money goes to the middlemen, the commercial outfitters who make the operations possible. The amount of financial support local communities could use now is staggering. It will not be alleviated by killing off the best of Africa’s mammals. They have enough to deal with.

Between 2004 and 2014 about 1.7 million trophy animals were shot, eliminated from the gene pool of their ecosystems, forever. And 200,000 from threatened species. In ten or certainly 20 years’ time, this will be impossible either biologically or legally. To kill a lion for 50,000 dollars, a guaranteed kill for the sake of killing begs the question, what is in the mind or heart of these men, mostly men, that necessitates massacre? When I was in Africa as a teenager there may have been over 250,000 lions. Today, the “king” of beasts is edging towards extinction. There may be only 15,000 left. About the same population as polar bears. All the other beings are being mutilated for “fun” for gladiatorial hubris. Something is wrong deep down in the matrix of our being, if we continue to think this is fun. If it is not fun, it is F U N, Fundamentally Undermining Nature.

One day trophy hunters will be forced to go to jail for 20 years for taking out such stupendous life forms. It will be considered illegal, and this activity, like poaching, will be considered criminal. Maybe by that that time there will hardly be any tigers or lions or polar bears left in the wild. Some guide or herdsmen will tell a hunter from Europe or the Midwest, I know where there are still some leopards left. I saw a polar bear a few weeks ago, let’s go shoot him! And the poor leopard sensing the smell of a killer will run for its life. Maybe it will survive for a few more days or months only to be hounded again by the remorseless monster of man. Until man’s spirit is finally crucified on the altar of final loss. Until there is nothing left to crucify. And the last lions will be fenced behind barricades pacing with the inexorable loneliness of loss for a horizon its forefathers once knew, that now lies corralled behind steel, and cement and barbed wire. What will that reality do for the human spirit? We will be aiming gun barrels at ourselves. We will have reached the point of the untenable, for us and what remains of the four-footed ones. And we will “lose our minds” as an elder told me in Kenya at the heyday of the elephant massacre. “The only thing left will be to kill ourselves.”

What vanguard of unruliness and wantonness and blood letting is necessary to prove one’s manhood today? Control, discretion, grace and true power comes from restraint. The power lies in wanting to see beings thrive rather than having an arrow go through their nose and come out the back of their head, like a poor deer once had to endure. What will convince the children of the future that their parents are not insane?

Robots will take over much of the world in the future. Flying cars. Many machines we haven’t dreamed of. But what still resides in the woods, the lakes or on the savannas of Africa or the forests of Asia and the Amazon, will determine if we will still be able to call ourselves human. 

As the next generation of children inherits an immensely fragile globe, we have to ask ourselves, what indeed will there be left living or alive for them to experience?

Photo credit: Lysander Christo

In terms of extermination, we are on the road to a day when in 30 years, in could be very, very hard to find anything moving that is not caged or behind bars. To find a black maned lion gazing back at us with the deep eyes of immensity its species embodies may become a miracle. There is enough monetary wherewithal and elite savvy to allow, encourage and ensure that life thrives as opposed to the tremendous energy we have used to undermine, mine and drain the world of life. If we have any regard for the children we keep putting on this planet then the heart will have to start to take charge and start to love life, as opposed to shooting a bullet through the brain of the world as we have done all too formidably in the last 200 years.

Bill Clark has worked with Interpol and has had two generations of experience with rangers in Kenya, which has one of the best tract records of any country in Africa. He writes, “One concern is that The Guardian article criticises Kenya for having a consistent policy prohibiting trophy hunting for 44 years.  There is suggestion that the ban on trophy hunting is responsible for the decline of certain wildlife populations in Kenya.  But the fundamental journalistic responsibility to check putative facts has not been met.  Why didn’t The Guardian ask Kenya Wildlife Service to respond to this allegation?” 

I am aware of the decline of certain populations in Kenya — elephants for example. But the catastrophe there was due to ivory poaching decades ago. Elephants have now doubled their nadir, and continue to expand. Trophy hunting had nothing to do with this matter.

There are many problems with trophy hunting that are not even mentioned in the article — perhaps because they are inconvenient to the author’s biases? Why is there no reference to the impact of poaching on the morale of park rangers in Africa? I have worked with many who expressed blatant pessimism over being assigned to risk their lives (about 100 African park rangers are killed in the line of duty annually) protecting elephants from poachers when those same rangers know for certain that some of those very same elephants will be shot legally by foreign trophy hunters in the near future. That dispirits many African rangers.

It should not take a rocket scientist, or a scientist paid by hunting groups, to speak out for the very reckless, inhumane, seditious practice of trophy hunting, to know that we have our priorities completely upside down as a species. One day when the last tiger is shot in India, or the last lion dismembered for body parts in Africa, or the last polar bear has drowned after her final 30 miles swim because she couldn’t find ice or seals to feed her cubs, will we hear from a small girl, so very intent on seeing the eyes of the wild gaze back at her, look up to her hunter dad and simply say, “How could you. How dare you! Who are you? What have you done?”

She will know just how much the arc of injustice and mutilation and vanity has broken the back of life and existence on what used to be a miraculous planet.

“Lions are going extinct—this is well known—but because Palmer evidently paid $50,000 for the privilege of murdering one of them, his act was welcome. A local poacher who needed money might kill a lion because he could sell the skin, and his act would be considered criminal. Literally hundreds of dollars for the privilege of doing so.  It’s said that trophy hunting is “managed” by the authorities, they say, but the animals killed by trophy hunters and poachers were managing themselves perfectly well before we came along.  We don’t own the natural world although we think we do—we just contribute to its destruction.”

—Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Learn more about Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson’s work at their website.


Don Jr. Told Dad’s Supporters “Have Fun” With Biden Campaign Before Bus Incident

Donald Trump Jr. speaks at a rally in support of his father, President Trump, in Orlando, Florida, on October 11, 2020.
Donald Trump Jr. speaks at a rally in support of his father, President Trump, in Orlando, Florida, on October 11, 2020.

BYChris WalkerTruthoutPUBLISHEDNovember 2, 2020SHAREShare via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via Email

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President Donald Trump criticized the FBI on Sunday for announcing an investigation into some of his supporters in Texas for harassing and endangering the lives of passengers on a Joe Biden campaign bus last week — an action that may have been inspired in part by the president’s own son just a couple of days prior.

Video on social media showed motorists, many with Trump 2020 flags or other insignia demonstrating their support for the president, surrounding a Biden for president campaign bus on a Texas interstate highway on Friday. The drivers shouted profanities toward the bus riders and attempted to slow the bus down to a complete stop.

The bus ended up slowing to 20 miles per hour at one point on the highway. Other videos shared online revealed more violent behavior, including a Trump-aligned pickup truck appearing to ram itself into the side of a vehicle that was escorting the Biden bus.

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After the video appeared on social media, the president tweeted out his support for his supporters who surrounded the bus, displaying an edited video that omitted their more violent acts. “I LOVE TEXAS!” Trump said on Twitter Saturday.

Later, the FBI announced that it was looking into the matter.

“FBI San Antonio is aware of the incident and investigating,” FBI spokesperson Michelle Lee said to CNN.

The announcement prompted the president to complain on Sunday about the fact that an inquiry into his violent supporters had been opened.

“In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong,” Trump said, suggesting that the FBI should look into antifa instead.

At several points during his presidency, Trump has used his bully pulpit to criticize a number of institutions, including political opponents and the media, in a manner that has oftentimes inspired his backers to act violently. It’s possible, however, that this time around, Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., inspired his father’s supporters to behave maliciously.

Days before the apparent attack on the Biden bus took place, Trump Jr. shared a video message to the president’s supporters in Texas, encouraging them to harass a planned event involving Biden’s vice presidential running-mate, Kamala Harris.

“It’d be great if you guys would all get together, head down to McAllen and give Kamala Harris a nice Trump train welcome,” Trump Jr. said in the message published on Wednesday.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?creatorScreenName=truthout&dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-1&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1321543980165857283&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Ftruthout.org%2Farticles%2Fdon-jr-told-dads-supporters-have-fun-with-biden-campaign-before-bus-incident%2F&siteScreenName=truthout&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=500px

“Get out there, have some fun. Get out there, guys,” he added.

Harris or Biden were not onboard the bus during the apparent attack, but Democratic candidates running in local races were riding on it, including former state lawmaker Wendy Davis, who is running for a U.S. House seat in Texas. After the dangerous provocation on the highway unfolded, Davis and others on the bus canceled their planned campaign event due to safety concerns.

‘This will make lib heads explode’: Donald Trump Jr posts 2024 picture

Donald Trump Jr

Lauren Aratani in New York

Sun 25 Oct 2020 17.37 EDTLast modified on Mon 26 Oct 2020 09.55 EDT


Donald Trump Jr signs books at a Marriot Hotel on Long Island.
 Donald Trump Jr signs books at a Marriot Hotel on Long Island. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Donald Trump Jr posed in front of a “Don Jr 2024” sign in Nevada on Saturday, posted the picture online and waited for “the lib heads to explode”.

‘Owning the libs’: how Donald Trump Jr became the unlikely political heir apparent

 Read more

“Hahahahaha,” wrote the president’s oldest son, on Instagram. “Oh boy. This was a sign up at the Fallon Nevada Livestock Auction. This will make the lib heads explode.” (“Lib” being short for liberal.)

“To whomever made that thanks for the compliment … but let’s get through 2020 with a big win first!!!!!”

Though Nevada went for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden leads Donald Trump Sr there this year, it is considered a swing state. Democratic voters are concentrated in Las Vegas and its suburbs while Republicans can be found in more rural areas.

Trump Jr, 42, is best known as an internet provocateur who shares both his father’s brashness and his inclination for sharing disinformation.Advertisementhttps://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Since his father won the White House he has not been involved in policy like his sister, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, or as active in running the Trump Organization as his brother, Eric. He also has two half-siblings, Tiffany and Barron.

But Don Jr does seem to be the Trump offspring most inclined to politics and he has turned into a valuable campaign surrogate with a knack for communicating with the president’s base.

“Don Jr represents the emotional center of the Maga universe,” Jason Miller, a senior advisor on Trump’s campaign, told the New York Times, using an acronym for “Make America Great Again”, a Trump slogan.

Trump Jr has only joked about running for office but he – and his sister – have registered strongly in polls regarding notional Republican candidates for 2024, whether to succeed his father or to attempt to deny Joe Biden a second term.

The president’s oldest son has also published two books with political themes, seeing the first top bestseller lists, if with help from the party, and suffering embarrassment over a mistake on the cover of the second.

Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump among top Republican picks for 2024

 Read more

A Vice reporter recently suggested that Pennsylvania Republicans were floating the idea of Trump Jr replacing Pat Toomey, a Republican senator who has announced he will retire. Trump Jr himself has not spoken about the Pennsylvania seat.

Speaking to the Guardian this week, Rick Wilson, a former Republican consultant and member of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, called Trump Jr “a post-Republican Republican … there only to engage in that performative dickery that is lib-owning in the Trump world. It is a political performance art to show your contempt for norms, institutions and education.”

Wilson went on to explain why, should Trump Jr actually consider a run for office, that might be an asset.

“It has become the ideological underpinning of the GOP. There’s no party of ideas any longer. There’s no there there except for sort of the screeching fury of Trumpism.”

This L.A. hunter killed an elephant. Now he’s a PETA target in bid to end trophy hunting

An African elephant in the wild.



In mid-December, Aaron Raby shot and killed an elephant. Hours later, he had a piece of it for dinner, with a side of sliced tomato and avocado.

A self-described “blue-collar” Los Angeles crane operator, Raby paid more than $30,000 for the once-in-a-lifetime experience — traveling more than 10,000 miles to South Africa to shoot and kill the tusked pachyderm. He then paid roughly $10,000 to have its head preserved as a souvenir of his adventure.

Yet Raby may never receive his trophy — which is still in South Africa being prepared by a taxidermist — if California enacts new legislation, Senate Bill 1175.

The legislation, which has passed the state Senate and is expected to pass the Assembly on Tuesday, would prohibit the importation and possession of animal parts from a list of endangered and threatened African species, including elephants, lions and rhinos.

“It’s time to wake up and realize that we’re in the middle of a mass extinction event,” said Sen. Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park), who wrote and shepherded the bill through the Senate.

Similar legislation passed both the Assembly and Senate two years ago but was ultimately vetoed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, who called the trophy ban “unenforceable.” Stern said circumstances have since changed, and is confident the current governor, Gavin Newsom, will sign this year’s bill.

For Raby, the consequences of his latest kill are just starting to unfold. After the hunt, he posted images of his trophy on Facebook, YouTube and AfricaHunting.com, a website for hunters.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal rights activist organization, independently obtained video of the elephant shooting, which it released Monday and plans to use in a late-session campaign to ensure passage of Stern’s legislation.

Raby said he has faced threats and online harassment before, such as when he posted an image of himself with a lion he had killed. But the PETA campaign is sure to bring him a new notoriety, and deepen the debate about trophy hunting.

“I don’t understand why this is anybody’s business but my own,” Raby said. “What I did is legal. I didn’t break a law. They’re going to place a ban because a bunch of … crybabies that don’t like hunting.”

California has become a focus of the trophy fight partly because the federal government has vacillated on banning such imports. This year, the Trump administration approved the import of a lion trophy from Tanzania, the first since lions began receiving protections in January 2016 as a threatened species.

Fearing the administration may approve more trophy imports, wildlife advocates are hoping California will provide a line of defense.

For years, trophy hunting has also quietly divided conservation biologists. Last fall, that split became publicly acerbic within the pages of the prestigious research journal Science.

Some experts argue the practice provides funding for local communities, raises money for wildlife management and gives people who live near dangerous or destructive animals — such as lions and elephants — an incentive to conserve them instead of kill them.

An African elephant is pictured on November 17, 2012 at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. AFP PHOTO MARTIN BUREAU (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)


Does trophy hunting ‘enhance survival of the species’? Trump administration policy allowing elephant trophies stirs debate

Nov. 16, 2017

Others say there is no evidence that trophy hunting provides these benefits, and, even if it did, they question whether killing and dismembering such creatures justifies those ends.

The scope of the imports is vast. In 2017 alone, more than 650,000 wildlife trophies were imported to the United States, including species considered internationally rare or threatened, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service.

Last winter, after years of diligently saving, Raby embarked on a two-week hunting expedition in South Africa, led by a pair of experienced safari guides.

A video of the hunt, which PETA shared with The Times, shows a startled elephant facing the hunter and his phalanx of guides and trackers. As the young male pachyderm looks on — his ears widening — the guides set up a tripod upon which Raby places his rifle.

Raby shoots, and the bullet hits the elephant in its head. The elephant crumbles to his knees. Over the next 2½ minutes, Raby shoots the elephant four more times — three more hitting the animal’s head. The footage shows the elephant breathing heavily, groaning, bleeding and struggling to get up.

Raby’s guides continue to encourage him to get a cleaner shot. They never offer or attempt to intercede to quickly end the animal’s suffering.

The video cuts off before the elephant dies, although later footage — which Raby posted on YouTube and his Facebook page — shows crews skinning and deboning the elephant.

Raby has killed hundreds of animals across North America, as well as in Europe, Africa and Russia. Photos of his forays can be viewed on his public Instagram page, including one that shows a dead wolverine and another in which he is hugging a dead leopard.

The elephant was the culmination of Raby’s African “Big Five” quest. He’d already killed a lion, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo and leopard.

Raby said he hunts not for the kill, but for the experience and adventure of the hunt — living outdoors, cooking around a campfire, tracking an animal and immersing himself in the wild.

He also notes that lions regularly kill agricultural and pastoral animals — and occasionally people — while elephants can destroy homes and crops.

“We pay a lot of money to hunt these animals,” Raby said. “If we didn’t hunt, that land would be converted into cattle ranches and there’d be poaching. They don’t want lions killing their cattle or elephants destroying their crops.”

Mike Axelrad, a trophy hunter from Texas, said hunting provides financial incentives that prevent poaching. He said animals are often poisoned if considered a nuisance — a painful and often prolonged death.

Craig Packer, a biology professor and director of the University of Minnesota’s lion research center, said there are examples of successful trophy-hunting conservation preserves in countries such as Namibia and Zimbabwe — in which the proceeds from international hunting expeditions have provided funding to conserve wildlife habitat and employ people from local communities.

Unfortunately, he said, in most places, these reserves don’t translate into the desired outcomes because the money spent by hunters — a lion hunt can range from $20,000 to $70,000 — doesn’t come close to the kind of money needed to conserve biodiversity and manage habitat. Or employ enough people to have a meaningful effect on a community.

In addition, corruption in many countries and regions often makes it impossible to know where the money is going, to whom, and how the hunts are regulated.

“Many of these hunting preserves are fly-by-night operations. Business owners swoop in, sell big takes, and leave. They aren’t in it for the long term,” he said.

Others dispute Packer’s examples of hunting’s benefits.

“The emperor has no clothes,” said Adrian Treves, a conservation biologist at the University of Wisconsin and director of the Carnivore Coexistence Laboratory.

Treves says there are no concrete data supporting the idea that hunting promotes biodiversity, habitat conservation or local employment and engagement. Proponents tend to repeatedly cite the few studies that bolster the argument for hunting, creating a body of research that boils down to “self-citation,” he said.

An even bigger issue, said Chelsea Batavia, a conservation biologist at Oregon State University, is ethics.

“We know these animal are intelligent, they have emotional capacity and they have complicated social lives,” she said. Even if proponents could demonstrate that trophy hunting benefits conservation, she added, “do the ends justify the means?”

The debate, she said, needs to be seen in the context of colonialism, in which European traditions were and still are imposed upon Africans. What is needed, she said, are alternative conservation measures that aren’t issued from the top or from outside, but supported and embraced by local communities.

PETA is requesting that officials from South Africa investigate Raby’s hunt and, in particular, the prolonged death of the elephant.Newsletter

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In a letter to officials at the Balule preserve, Jared Goodman, PETA’s vice president and deputy general counsel, said the kill violated the preserve’s requirement that animals are provided with “ethical and humane” treatment and that its guides comply “with the highest moral and ethical standards in recognition of a reverence for life and good sportsmanship.”

As for Raby, he said he’d leave California if Stern’s legislation becomes law.

“We’re not all bloodthirsty, psycho machines that people make us out to be,” he said. “I promise you, I can read an animal better than someone who is against hunting. They say they like animals, but they don’t know anything about them.”

Kimberly Guilfoyle — Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend and top Trump campaign official — tests positive for coronavirus

By Kaitlan CollinsJeremy DiamondJim Acosta and Caroline Kelly, CNN

Updated 6:47 AM ET, Sat July 4, 2020

Kimberly Guilfoyle tests positive for coronavirus


(CNN)Kimberly Guilfoyle — the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr. and a top fundraiser for the Trump campaign — has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a top official for the committee she leads.”After testing positive, Kimberly was immediately isolated to limit any exposure,” said Sergio Gor, chief of staff for the Trump Victory Finance Committee. “She’s doing well, and will be retested to ensure the diagnosis is correct since she’s asymptomatic but as a precaution will cancel all upcoming events. Donald Trump Jr was tested negative, but as a precaution is also self isolating and is canceling all public events.”Guilfoyle tested positive in South Dakota before she was set to attend the President’s event at Mount Rushmore, a person familiar with the matter and a campaign source familiar with the matter said.Guilfoyle was not with the President and Donald Trump Jr. has so far tested negative, the person familiar with the matter said. That source said Guilfoyle had not had recent contact with the President, but she was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was backstage for his rally there and, was also at his event in Phoenix.Guilfoyle’s positive test was first reported by The New York Times.A former Fox News personality, Guilfoyle assumed the role earlier this year of national chairwoman of the Trump Victory Finance Committee, where she is credited with expanding its ranks of fundraisers.Guilfoyle and Trump Jr. had been in the upper Plains region hosting high-dollar fundraisers for several days, people familiar with the matter said.Guilfoyle has “been with a lot of the campaign donors” in recent days, one source familiar with the matter said.Billed as a “Mountain West Ranch Retreat,” one event occurred in Gallatin Gateway, Montana, from Tuesday until Thursday, according to one of the people.Another event was billed as the “Rapid City Roundup Retreat” in Rapid City, South Dakota, from Thursday to Friday.The people said Guilfoyle was not seen wearing a mask during the events.She is not the first person close to the President to test positive for the virus. A member of the Navy who serves as one of Trump’s personal valets tested positive in May. Additionally, eight Trump advance team staffers who were in Tulsa tested positive for coronavirus.All of Trump’s campaign staffers who worked on the rally in Tulsa were quarantining last week after interacting with several colleagues who later tested positive for coronavirus, CNN reported at the time. Campaign aides are tested before events, per the Trump campaign’s safety protocols.The news of Guilfoyle’s test comes not long after Trump Jr. posted images that falsely suggested that masks and face coverings don’t help prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus.Experts say wearing a mask or other face covering could reduce the transmission of Covid-19 by as much as 50%.Earlier this week, Trump Jr. posted an image on Facebook of a lab where scientists were working in certain hazmat suits known as positive pressure suits. Text on the image says, “This is what virologist wear to protect themselves from a virus. Don’t worry, though. Your bandana probably works too.”The image is from 2017 and was taken at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province.In posting the image, Trump Jr. wrote, “Solid point.” The post has received more than 40,000 shares and over 69,000 reactions on Facebook.This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Fredreka Schouten, Maeve Reston, Ryan Nobles, Donald Judd and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.

Big game hunter who has killed more than 5,000 elephants says he is ‘totally unrepentant’ after being named in investigation into plummeting numbers – and admits killing 60 lions, 50 hippos, and 40 leopards

Ad 00:12 – up next: “Elephant poacher says national parks have more elephants than space”

An African hunter who claims to have killed more than 5,000 elephants says he is ‘totally unrepentant’ about the deaths he has caused.

Ron Thomson, 77, who worked in Africa’s national parks for almost six decades, claims he was not hunting the animals for pure sport but was managing population that would otherwise have got out of control.

However, animal rights campaigners point out that elephant numbers are in steep decline and say ‘management culling’ is often used as a cover for trophy hunting.

Mr Thomson was forced to defend his record after a report by the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting branded him one of the world’s most prolific elephant killers.

On his website, Mr Thomson also claims to have killed 800 buffalo, 60 lions, 50 hippos and 40 leopards.

animal on the water: Campaigners rubbished Mr Thomson's claims, saying elephant numbers are in steep decline and 'management culls' are often used as fronts for trophy hunts© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Campaigners rubbished Mr Thomson’s claims, saying elephant numbers are in steep decline and ‘management culls’ are often used as fronts for trophy huntsThat total does not include kills he made while leading a culling team that shot 2,500 elephants and 300 hippos in Gonarezhou National Park in the 1970s.

Speaking to The Independent, he said: ‘I’m totally unrepentant, a hundred – ten thousand – times over for any of the hunting I’ve done because that’s not the problem.

‘The problem is we’ve got a bunch of so-called experts from the West telling us what to do. I’m a trained university ecologist – I must surely know something about this.’

During his career he has held posts including game warden of Hwange National Park, and was a professional hunter for three years.

He no longer routinely hunts, though said he would go again if invited, and instead writes books about his experiences, including God Created Man The Hunter.

On his website, he is described as ‘one of the most experienced African big game hunters alive today.’

In videos posted to the YouTube channel of his wildlife organisation, The True Green Alliance, Mr Thomson outlines his view of wildlife conservation.

a man looking at the camera: Ron Thomson, 77, says he is 'totally unrepentant' after killing more than 5,000 elephants during a nearly six decade career working in Africa's national parks© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Ron Thomson, 77, says he is ‘totally unrepentant’ after killing more than 5,000 elephants during a nearly six decade career working in Africa’s national parksHe argues that elephants are not an endangered species, that wildlife parks in southern Africa have ‘ten to 20 times more elephants’ than they can sustain, and that this is destroying the environment.

Without proper management, including culls, he argues that the parks will be overrun and endanger far more species than elephants alone.

Eduardo Gonçalves, founder of the Campaign to End Trophy Hunting, rubbished Mr Thomson’s claims – saying natural animal populations rarely ‘overstock’ themselves.

‘The African elephant population as a whole is in very serious decline,” he said, adding that ‘there are numerous instances of “management culling” being used as a cover for trophy-hunting.’

Mr Gonçalves’ report claims that, since the 1980s, elephant numbers in southern Africa have declined from 1.3million to just over 400,000.

In the same time period, hunters from around the globe have taken more than 100,000 trophies back to their home countries.

The group said there has been a four-fold increase in the number of elephant trophies taken in 2015 compared with 1985, and the jump in the amount of ivory taken over the same period was nearly twelve-fold.

Related slideshow: 14 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know Elephants Could Do (Reader’s Digest)

Freak accident in ditch near Morristown kills popular hunting guide


Morristown resident Travis Pineur on a hunting expedition. He was killed Sunday in freak accident in a ditch during the blizzard. Photo courtesy of Caring Bridge

MORRISTOWN — A rural Morristown man killed while trying to free his pickup from a snowy ditch was a well-known big-game hunting and fishing guide who traveled the world in pursuit of trophies for himself and his clients.

Travis Pineur, co-founder of Nomad Adventures, died Sunday about 4 miles from his home in Morristown Township under a freak set of circumstances along a rural road, according to the Rice County Sheriff’s Office.

The 33-year-old Pineur chronicled many of his hunts in extensively produced videos on YouTube, where viewers see him hunting bear in Alaska, snow geese in Missouri and big game and fowl in New Zealand.

Pineur’s loss to hunting and fishing was felt not only in Minnesota but thousands of miles away.

H & H Alaskan Outfitters, on the Kenai Peninsula, posted on its Facebook page that “Travis’s personality was as big as the Alaska size game he hunted. He lived large, with adventure in his blood.

“Many of our clients had the privilege of hunting and spending time in the field with Travis. His dedication and skill were some of the best in the industry.”

On Sunday southwest of Faribault, a motorist who lives nearby stopped and attached a strap to the two vehicles, intending to pull the pickup from the ditch.

However, the strap broke on Tyler Nusbaum’s vehicle and sent the broken hitch hurtling toward Pineur’s pickup. The piece went through the windows of the camper top and the back of the pickup, and it hit Pineur in the back of the head, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Blizzard conditions prevented an air ambulance to respond to the scene, the Sheriff’s Office said. Instead, he was driven in an ambulance to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died.

Pineur is survived by his wife, Megan Pineur. The two were married last year and co-owned Nomad Adventures. Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.

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How Hunting Became a Macho Sport

CreditLeigh Guldig

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By Bruce Barcott

Sport hunting enjoyed a long and snooty history centuries before the establishment of the United States. King Henry VIII hunted stags the way President Trump golfs: often, with entourage and without apology. During Henry’s reign, peasants were allowed to snare wild hares, but the noble deer was off limits to those of low parentage; the physician Andrew Boorde declared venison a “lord’s dish,” and observed that great men “do not set so much by the meate, as they do by the pastime of kyllyng it.” What defined a gentleman, in other words, was his pleasure in the fairly played hunt, not his vulgar appetite for the steak.

In America’s colonial era, hunting remained a sport reserved for the elite. At Mount Vernon, George Washington indulged in the occasional mounted fox chase. “But elsewhere in the early United States,” the historian Philip Dray writes in “The Fair Chase,” “there was little recognition of sport hunting.”

That would change, of course, and the evolution of a truly American style of hunting forms the subject of Dray’s enlightening and oddly bloodless new book. According to Dray, the critical turn from noble pleasure to blue-collar pastime came with the establishment of the myth of the frontier hunter. For that, America had Daniel Boone. Born on a Pennsylvania farm in 1734, Boone spent much of his early adulthood hunting and trapping beyond the western colonial border. A skilled woodsman, tough and common-born, Boone came to the world’s attention thanks to a land speculator named John Filson. Filson’s 1784 book, “The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke,” was really a long brochure, meant to inflate the value of the author’s real estate near present-day Lexington. For drama, Filson included in his encomium a chapter on Boone’s adventures in “the best tract of land in North America, and probably in the world.”

“While Filson wanted Boone’s example to show that courage and hard work could conquer the frontier,” Dray writes, “neither author nor subject possibly could have dreamed the extent to which Boone would become a mythic figure, a representation of the young country’s hopes.” Like all colonials on the frontier, Boone stalked his game as a poacher. His favored “Kentucke” ground belonged to members of the Shawnee tribe, who seized his furs and guns when they caught him trespassing. Frontiersmen who hunted on Native American ground often acted as an advance guard for settlers who would later steal the land outright. Hunting became a seemingly democratic sport open to all classes of white folk largely because there was no sheriff to arrest them for bagging the king’s deer. Not to say it wasn’t risky. Two of Boone’s sons were killed by Indians, and Boone himself lived to tell the tale only because of his uncommon ability to talk his way out of trouble with the tribes.

America’s first sports periodical, American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine, appeared in the late 1820s, not long after Boone’s death. At the time, “sport” connoted a kind of “Guys and Dolls” lifestyle: hard-drinking bachelors laying action on horses, dice and fighting cocks. When one sporting publisher realized that “hunting stories — hunters pitted against elusive, dangerous animals in forbidding terrain — possessed unique narrative power,” as Dray writes, the hook-and-bullet genre was born.


From the 1830s until the eve of the Civil War, men like Henry William Herbert made a living selling adventure tales larded with wily bucks and ferocious bears. Under the pen name Frank Forester, Herbert instructed his readers in the ways of rod and gun and, as a eulogist later wrote, “infected his readers with the same love of the chase he felt himself.”

In the United States, sport hunting is no longer merely a pastime. It’s often prescribed as an antidote to a recurring fear: the softening of the American man. Today’s alt-right blather about “snowflakes” and male feminization is nothing new. Washington Irving thought manly self-reliance ought to be instilled in America’s youth by sending them hunting on the Great Plains, rather than touring in Europe where they “grow luxurious and effeminate.” Outdoorsmen were vigorous, muscular Christians — nothing like those studious urban types, as Ralph Waldo Emerson noted, “with their pale, sickly etiolated indoor thoughts!”

Emerson’s fellow Transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau, prefigured today’s hiker-hunter cultural split. In “Walden” Thoreau considered hunting a necessary but distasteful stage in a man’s development: “No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly murder any creature which holds its life by the same tenure that he does.” The same schism played out a half-century later when the naturalist John Muir shared a camp at Yosemite with President Theodore Roosevelt. “When are you going to get beyond the boyishness of killing things?” Muir demanded of the famously avid hunter.

Any human who enjoys a Whopper with cheese kills things too, of course. He just does it indirectly. And therein lies one of the hunter’s greatest lines of defense. Dray, with typical evenhandedness, acknowledges as much. “Most of us reside somewhere along a very broad spectrum of hypocrisy regarding animal lives,” he writes. It’s a private and sometimes quirky thing, this ethical line each of us draws when it comes to hunting. I’ve hunted deer but could not justify going after elk. (I felt I hadn’t earned the right.) My dad hunted ducks with his father long ago but stopped because, he once told me, “I couldn’t see the sense in killing something that was so beautiful.” We both still love aquatic hunting — the pastime also known as sport fishing.

What is O.K. to hunt, when and why? “The Fair Chase” isn’t a book about ethics and philosophy, but Dray does a fine job introducing his readers to the issues in play. “Recreation,” he observes, “appears to be the offensive aspect” for a lot of hunting opponents. In a 2013 survey, 79 percent of Americans said they approve of hunting. Two years later, a separate pollfound that 59 percent of adults “think hunting animals for sport” is unacceptable. The difference seemed to be the word “sport.” Say “hunting” and many people think of grandpa stalking deer in October. “Sport hunting” conjures up images of rich white guys getting their jollies killing lions and giraffes. What emerges is a vague yearning for the culturally appropriate. It might be justifiable for members of the Makah tribe to hunt a gray whale, but it’s not O.K. for your white deer-hunter grandpa to shoot a beluga.

“The Fair Chase” can be frustrating at times. Dray’s historical method involves a bit of overlapping and backtracking, and he sometimes seems more interested in the literary description and public presentation of hunting rather than the act itself. Hunting is an emotional, blood-racing activity, and Dray seems happy to leave the intense feelings it provokes to in-the-field writers like Ted Kerasote, Pam Houston, David Petersen and Aldo Leopold. Still, he isn’t afraid to lay out hard truths, including the ways in which the National Rifle Association, once a hunting group, has hijacked an important and honorable pastime for gun-selling ends.

The history of American hunting is a decidedly mixed bag. “America’s love affair with sport hunting,” Dray writes, “led to enhanced appreciation of the great outdoors, and to public acceptance of the need for management of wildlife populations and wilderness; but it also contributed to the wholesale slaughter of birds and animal species,” and fed the myth of the American as heroic conqueror.

As Thoreau wrote, hunting may represent an early stage in human development. But it’s not one we’re likely to outgrow anytime soon.

Bruce Barcott is the deputy editor of Leafly and a contributing editor at Outside magazine.