My Turn: Of man-eating lions and media crybabies
By Randy Biggerstaff
There is a full blown witch hunt in progress for Dr. Walter Palmer, of Minneapolis, due to the taking of a lion, Cecil, in Zimbabwe. Palmer’s Professional Hunter (PH) has been charged with luring the animal from the Hwange National Park to an area where Palmer shot the cat. I’m not sure which is more disgusting, the bald-face lies from Zimbabwe, or the blubbering of news anchors over something they obviously know nothing about.
Zimbabwe has always allowed the taking of big cats with bait, day or night. Dragging a scent line bait is perfectly legal if they started outside the park boundary — always has been. Taking a lion with a radio collar is also perfectly legal. This jive pap coming from Mugabe’s surfs was generated by the anti-hunting uproar, directed at their tourist industry — by sorely misguided people — who have watched sleepy lions, lounging in the shade, from zebra striped Land Rovers, while sucking on a green twig and martini for lunch.
The preservationists are signing petitions to have Palmer extradited, through the Lacy Act. The Lacy Act basically works in conjunction with the international agreement known as the Convention for International Trade of Endangered Species, or C.I.T.E.S. Our import agreement with Zimbabwe concerning C.I.T.E.S. includes leopard and elephant — where an import permit is required. (Lion — barring a recent change ‚ is not applicable.)
Now — as Paul Harvey would say — here’s the rest of the story, which the Palmer “lynch mob” obviously doesn’t comprehend, concerning “those darling lions.” The majority of lion hunters — myself included, years ago before prices spiraled out of control — are unsuccessful. Lions are as dangerous and unpredictable as they come — bar none! The number of people killed over the last century by big cats in Africa and India would easily fill up an NFL stadium — with overflow. Infamous man-eaters like the Tsavo lions, Njombe lions, Mpika lions, Revugwi, Chabunkwa, and Luangwa valley prides, along with hundreds of less famous lions — not to mention leopards (Africa and India) like the Panar and Rudraprayag cats, tigers (India) like the Champawat tigress, and scores of others, each leaving this big blue sphere with hundreds of notches on their teeth. Thousands of man-eating cases have gone unreported due to remoteness of locations, and more so, it has always been considered death by natural causes in the “bush.” Whether eating children deep in the Zambezi valley or viewed through a Nikon from a Toyota in a national park, they’re all the same “pussy cats.” Believe me, a big cat roaring at close range in the dark would run the Terminator’s pucker factor to 9.9!
The only value attached to wildlife in underdeveloped countries is monetary worth. Pull sport hunting out of Africa, and poaching — effectively controlled by the safari companies — will skyrocket, as witnessed by Kenya, Botswana and Angola. A safari operator friend of mine has literally hundreds of traps and snares picked up in his hunting concession in Mozambique — following decades of a hunting hiatus (civil war with Portugal) — in just a couple of years! I won’t attempt to tell you how valuable, and necessary, the safari industry is to local African indigenous populations. You wouldn’t believe me.
News flash: Zimbabwe just announced a policy change this last weekend. They are suspending all hunting of lions, leopards, and elephants. Consider this anti-hunters before jumping for joy: What has happened in Kenya, Angola, and Botswana will now take place in Zimbabwe. The consequences include the following: Plains game hunting will not sustain the safari industry in Zimbabwe. Prices, non malarial areas, and safety are too good in South Africa and Namibia. Dangerous game draws hunters to Zimbabwe! Poaching (rampant in Kenya, Angola, Botswana, and other non-sport hunting countries) — and the potential for man-eating will increase greatly, and expeditiously.
Thousands of malnutrition plagued African natives (especially children) will be deprived of hundreds of tons of much needed protein — donated by the safari industry annually. Tens of millions of safari dollars will no longer help the people,(thousands of natives are employed by the safari industry) and conservation/ anti-poaching programs of Zimbabwe. As with other non-hunting countries, Zimbabwe will now be forced to pay professional shooters millions to cull their herds — especially elephants — by the thousands. As with other non-hunting countries mentioned, the cull shooters slaughter cows, newborn calves — the whole nine yards — to fill their quotas.
In other words, with trophy sport hunting, a few of the old die so that the many can live. Bet your Kenyan photo safari guide forgot to mention that, didn’t he!
Randy Biggerstaff lives in Kannapolis.