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, 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.

Cecil the lion ‘died in agony’ 10 hours after being shot by hunter, says zoologist

While the world didn’t learn about Cecil the lion until after his death, Andrew Loveridge knew the animal for years. The zoologist had been studying lions around Hwange National Park since 1999. (A. J. Loveridge)


Read Story Transcript

Cecil the lion died “in agony” 10 hours after he was first shot, says a zoologist who had fitted him with a tracking collar.

The animal’s death made headlines around the world in 2015, after U.S. dentist Walter Palmer shot and killed him, with the help of a local hunting guide.

“We know that Cecil then probably ran away — about 20, 30, 40 metres away — into some bush and survived for the next 10 hours with a devastating arrow wound,” says Andrew Loveridge, who has spent his career studying Cecil and the other lions in the Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.

They didn’t bother to go and kill it, to put it out of its misery.– Andrew  Loveridge

Loveridge was able to piece together the lion’s final hours through data from the satellite collar, and testimony from staff at the local hunting camp.

“When we spoke to the hunting tracker, he said that he could hear the animal struggling to breathe,” Loveridge tells The Current’s guest host Liz Hoath.

“So it was obviously close by, and they didn’t bother to go and kill it, to put it out of its misery.”

Loveridge thinks Palmer wanted to claim the kill as a bowhunting trophy. But in order to do that, he says that “he would have to kill it with a bow and arrow, he can’t go and shoot it.”

“I guess they wanted to wait for the animal to die of its initial wound.”

The new claims about the manner in which he died are made in Loveridge’s book Lion Hearted: The Life and Death of Cecil and the Future of Africa’s Iconic Cats, set to be published next week.

For his part, Palmer issued a statement after the outcry over Cecil’s death, which said, in part: “I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favourite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”

Palmer never faced charges in the incident, and the charges against his local hunting guide, Theo Bronkhorst, were thrown out by a Zimbabwean court.

Andrew Loveridge argues that conservation efforts have to become a global responsibility, not just paid for by African governments. (Simon & Schuster Canada; Regan Arts)

A species under threat

Loveridge says he was accustomed to seeing the lions he studied be killed in trophy hunts. In fact, Cecil was the 42nd male lion in his study group to be killed by hunters.

According to figures from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), African lion populations declined by about 43 per cent between 1999 and 2014.

And yet, Loveridge says trophy hunting is not the only, or even the most significant threat to Africa’s lion populations.

The lions live in almost constant tension with local people, who see them a danger to their agricultural livestock, and an impediment to economic development.

Andrew Loveridge says hunting is only part of the reason that lions are endangered. They are losing their habitats, and natural prey, as farms increase in size and number. (A. J. Loveridge)

“We can’t talk about conserving lions, without understanding that African perspective of lions,” says Loveridge.

“Lions are dangerous animals, they kill people’s domestic stock, they sometimes kill people, they kill people’s kids. And people are frightened of them.”

“They have a lot of respect for them — they don’t necessarily want to live with them.”

With the human population in Africa expected to double in the century from 2000 to 2100, according to United Nations estimates, there’s pressure to make sure that the economy can grow, in order to support the people who live there.

But that means the lions’ habitat would invariably shrink.

Habitats will shrink as the human population in Africa grows, bringing lions into greater conflict with farmers. (Jane Hunt)

Global responsibility

Loveridge says much more will need to be done to ensure that wildlife and people can continue to live side-by-side, and that lion populations are preserved.

He says conservation has to become a global responsibility, not just paid for by African governments, which are the least able to devote money to it.

“Western governments could fund conservation in a heartbeat if they wanted to.” says Loveridge.

“It’s a fraction of the defense and development spending that governments spend all the time.”

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this page, where you can also share this article across email, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.

This segment was produced by The Current’s Alison Masemann.

Big Game Hunter Gets Shot Dead While In Africa Hunting Lions

A Croatian trophy hunter who’d hunted ‘everything that could be hunted in Europe’ has been shot dead in a freak accident while taking part in a South African hunting expedition.

Pero Jelinic, a 75-year-old hotelier from the Croatian island of Pag, had already killed one lion and was about to shoot another when he was struck and killed by a stray bullet on a remote farm this past Saturday.

Jelinic’s friend Slavko Pernar said Jelinic was a ‘passionate’ hunter who travelled to Africa to land a lion trophy after he found himself seeking a new challenge, the Daily Mail reported.

Credit: Facebook/Pero Jelinic
Credit: Facebook/Pero Jelinic

It is not yet clear who was responsible for firing the shot that killed Jelinic, police said.

Jelinic was shot while he was in the North West province of South Africa, having travelled there with two friends to hunt big cats ‘to complete his extensive trophy collection’.

According to Pernar, a close friend of Jelinic’s and a fellow hunter, Jelinic was particularly keen on claiming the head of a lion ‘to crown his rich hunting career’. For the past year he had even leased his hotel out so he could commit fully to his ambition and enjoy his retirement.

“Pero was a passionate hunter of big and small game, and in search of that he travelled most of the world,” Pernar told Croatia’s Jutarnji List newspaper.

“For the past year he had leased his hotel to dedicated himself to the things he planned to accomplish and enjoyed a deserved retirement.

“He, unfortunately, received the ugliest end – he died in South Africa doing what he loved. His office, a hunting hall, was full of trophies, deer and bear specimens and everything that could be hunted in Croatia and Europe.”

Jelinic was killed at Leeubosch Lodge, a property a four-hour drive from Johannesburg and 40 miles from the border with neighbouring country Botswana.

The property is known for keeping lions in captivity for the sole purpose of their being hunted – a controversial industry known as ‘canned’ lion-hunting.

The owner of Leeubosch Lodge, Dr Gideon Engelbrecht, told News24 that he was not at the farm when Jelinic was shot dead.

‘I was at my surgery when I received the call. I arranged for a helicopter to take the man to hospital, but that’s all I am going to give you at this stage, because the case is still under investigation,’ he said.

South Africa’s ‘canned’ lion-hunting industry, which legally breeds lions in captivity to be killed by hunters, is known for being a lucrative business which is also highly controversial among animal lovers and hunters alike.

Lions at Lion Park in Johannesburg, South Africa. Credit: PA
Lions at Lion Park in Johannesburg, South Africa. Credit: PA

Hunts in this industry keep lions in a confined space using fences, giving them a zero chance of escape and giving the hunter the best possible chance of claiming his trophy.

In November 2015, the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA) voted to disassociate itself from canned lion hunting in the country and banned its members from taking part in such expeditions, calling them ‘vanity hunting’.

However, PHASA reversed the ruling last year, a decision which received severe criticism from animal rights groups across the globe.

Police have confirmed that they have opened a case of culpable homicide into Jelinic’s death. They are also investigating charges of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

However, they ‘do not suspect any foul play’ in the shooting and investigations into the death are ongoing.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Ass-backwards Defined: Make good shot with your weapon, then with your camera  

Spend some quality time behind the camera and make the buck of a lifetime into a lifetime memory with a top-drawer photo.

Hunters in the Carolinas who take trophy bucks rarely turn down a trip to the taxidermist, even though a quality mount may cost hundreds of dollars. But few spend time taking capture quality photos of their kills. A shoulder mount over the fireplace will showcase a quality animal, but photographs from the day and place of the kill will better capture the event.

To make a great photographic memory, hunters need to be prepared and have a good digital camera ready in case a lifetime buck ventures into range. While a professional-level camera will take photos of the best quality, the technology available in most consumer-grade digital cameras is more than adequate.

Today’s cell phones do much more than just make and receive calls, and if their cameras shoot more than 5 megapixels, they are a valid option after a trophy buck hits the dirt. The key is to keep the phone/camera perfectly still to take the best shot.

Settings are important, and while hunters can fine-tun the white balance, focus, aperture and shutter speed, the auto functions on cameras and smart phones in most conditions.

If you have a digital camera, a small tripod can be helpful and can be purchased for as little as $20. Also, almost all cameras have a timer feature that can be used in concert with a tripod to take photos of the hunter with his trophy when no help is available.

 The only manual setting that should be adjusted is the flash. Even when sunlight is plentiful and the auto flash indicator didn’t turn on, adding flash can make a good shot fabulous. Adding flash is especially good when the sun is high because shadows can ruin a great shot, and hunters are likely to be wearing a hat or cap ­that will cover his or her face with shadows. A flash eliminates shadows, and during low-light conditions, it provide the light necessary to bring out colors and the fine detail in a crisp, quality photo. 

Beyond equipment, the biggest part of taking a good photo is the setup. The best photos are taken from the woods or in a natural setting where the deer was killed. Too many times, cameras aren’t pulled out until the deer is on the driveway, in the skinning shed or at the gas station where the background is ruined by an assortment of unwanted objects. Don’t let anything in the background take away from the photo.

The person holding the camera should set up several shots of the deer and hunter from different angles while always keeping the sun at the camera’s back. Any time the sun is off to one side or the other, it will cast shadows and can create glare that will ruin a photo. On extremely bright, sunny days, a few shots should be taken in a shaded area with the flash activated. While good sunlight is a positive, too much sun can cause the hunter to squint, and unwanted glare is a risk.

The best photos include the entire hunter and deer with just a little extra space all around. Fill up the frame with the subject; you need to be relatively close to the subject for the camera’s flash and focusing capacities to take effect. You can always crop the photo later.

A lifetime buck doesn’t come into range every day. Hunters should take precautions to take the best possible photos to preserve these special events for a lifetime of memories.

Hunters are livid over Trump’s elephant trophy decision
 November 20 at 5:24 PM

A herd of elephants stands near a water hole in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, east of Harare, in September 2013. Zimbabwean ivory poachers killed more than 80 elephants by poisoning water holes with cyanide that year, endangering one of the world’s biggest herds. (Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters)

President Trump’s announcement that he is delaying a decision on allowing elephant hunting trophies from Zimbabwe drew angry reactions from hunting groups and reignited a heated debate over whether killing iconic animals is the best way to manage their shrinking populations.

Last week, the Trump administration announced it would reverse a ban on trophy imports from Zimbabwe that had been imposed by the Obama administration. Two days later, however, Trump tweeted that elephant hunting is a “horror show” and suggested he would maintain the ban.

Hunters have criticized the decision to delay ending the ban. In voicing their indignation, hunters were careful not to blame the president. Instead, one of the largest and more recognized groups, Safari Club International, issued a call to arms against “hysterical anti-hunters and news media outlets” that “went into overdrive, attacking everyone in sight, including the Trump administration, SCI and even the National Rifle Association of America” after the decision was announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last Wednesday.

The Safari Club said the hold is the result of “shrill, negative reactions.” It asked supporters to use its “action center” to call in and tell Trump how much they appreciate the finding that Zimbabwe had enhanced its program to protect elephants, paving the way for allowing trophies of legally hunted elephants to be imported. SCI did not respond to requests for comment.

Mmmm…OK I’ll take it (let’s just shut up and not ask questions on this one guys, ‘K?) 

Little known fact about Trump — he actually opposes hunting! Here are his tweets criticizing his kids for big-game hunting in 2012.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Seventy percent of hunters who pay up to $20,000 for permits to legally harvest elephants are American, according to Campfire, a group in Zimbabwe that manages its elephant hunting program. The program’s revenue dropped from an average of $2 million per year before the ban in 2014 to $1.73 million last year, Charles Jonga, Campfire’s director, said in an email.

Jonga joined hunters in blaming Trump’s decision on others. “This is certainly not about President Trump’s reaction,” he said, “but about animal welfare lobbyists who have nothing to show for their misplaced belief that they can dictate to African rural communities how they should share their living space with wildlife.”

Trump tweeted Friday that he would put off a decision until he could meet with Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke. Zinke, an avid hunter and trophy collector, later issued a statement on Interior’s website and tweeted that he agreed with the president.

Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!

During the Obama administration, Fish and Wildlife had questioned Campfire’s management and how much revenue was devoted to the conservation of elephants. Animal rights groups such as the Humane Society International said much of the funding was lost to corruption. The arrest of Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, within days of the Trump administration’s favorable finding raised concerns.

Elephant hunting trophies are allowed to be imported to the United States from two other African countries, South Africa and Namibia. Another country, Zambia, was given the green light by the Fish and Wildlife Service last week. The current controversy focuses on the import of trophies from Zimbabwe.

On Monday, two environmental groups sued the Trump administration over the move to end the ban, which they called contrary to the slow and deliberate process called for under the Endangered Species Act, which lists African elephants as threatened.

“Trump’s abrupt backpedaling after public outcry, while appreciated, shows how arbitrary this deplorable decision was,” Tanya Sanerib, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “These incredibly imperiled creatures need a lot more than vague promises.”

The Center for Biological Diversity and Natural Resources Defense Council drew on Zimbabwe’s troubles in the announcement of their lawsuit, filed at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. To arrive at an enhanced finding that elephant herds are well managed, Fish and Wildlife must rely on “Zimbabwe having the plans, resources, funds, and staff to conserve elephant and lion populations.”

“But . . . corruption is already a huge concern” due to the ouster of Mugabe. Also, the groups noted, “Zimbabwe scored an abysmal 22 out of 100 on Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index.

“Poaching elephants for their ivory remains a significant threat in Zimbabwe. According to aerial surveys — known as the Great Elephant Census — Zimbabwe’s elephant population decreased 6 percent between 2001 and 2013, when the aerial surveys were performed.” They went on to point out that controversies over animal killing often arise in Zimbabwe, where Cecil the Lion was illegally tracked, shot with an arrow and killed by an American hunter.

Elly Pepper, deputy director of a wildlife trade initiative and program at NRDC, called Trump’s announcement a pleasant surprise but said he needs to do more. “These tweets are still really ambiguous,” she said. “And tweets don’t have any legal authority. We want to make sure that the administration doesn’t have its cake and eat too. We want to ensure they aren’t going to quietly start issuing trophy permits and enjoy public support because their tweets indicated they oppose trophy hunting.”

Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said his organization plans to work with Trump without taking legal action. But Pacelle questioned the idea of killing elephants to conserve them.

“Botswana disallowed all trophy hunting, and Botswana has more elephants by a long shot than every other country,” Pacelle said. “It’s recognized that this would damage the brand of the nation. Trophy hunting subtracts animals from nature. It diminishes the value of animal populations.”

During the controversy in 2015 over allowing a rhinoceros hunter to import the trophy head of a rhinoceros he planned to kill in Namibia, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature said concern over the act confused illegal poaching with well-managed hunting tourism.

“Well-managed trophy hunting has little to do with poaching, and indeed can be a key tool to help combat it,” the union said in a statement. Without it, African conservationists “would not be able to employ the upwards of 3,000 field rangers employed to protect wildlife and enforce regulations.” Namibia’s conservation is viewed by Fish and Wildlife as one of most responsible such programs in Africa.

Pacelle dismissed this type of argument. Hunters never say “we want to trophy hunt because we want to mount the head,” Pacelle said. “They always apply something to it. They could just give the money for conservation. But they want something out of it.”

In a year that saw the Ringling Bros. Circus fold after a century and a half following an outcry over its treatment of animals, the nation is experiencing a major shift in tolerance, according to Pacelle.

“That was a marker of how our attitudes have evolved toward elephants. We don’t want to see anyone chain them and have them perform silly stunts,” he said. “It’s worse to shoot them in the head.”

Read More

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Before elephants, Trump loosened limits on lion trophies

Lions are raised to be shot in South Africa. American hunters love it.