Today I am posting two articles from the guardian, that are both graphic and emotional. The first I read while walking to school this morning. It’s about Rhino poaching in Kenya. This past week alone, seven Rhinos were hunted and killed in - of all places - Rhino reservations across Kenya. The Rhino horn is a very rare and expensive trade commodity, mostly going to South East Asia for use in cancer medications and aphrodisiacs, according to the article. Although these ‘cures’ are not related in any way to traditional Asian medicine, they are largely responsible for the existence of the Rhino poaching industry today.
The second piece is about canned hunting in South Africa. Here there is a big industry for breeding lions in capacity to later be game for North American and European trophy hunters for leisure hunting. This is called the ‘canned hunting' industry. There are more lions bred in captivity for canned hunting than exist in the wild. Hours after being born these death row lions are taken from their mothers as cubs to dampen wild instinct. They are then used in petting parks where tourists will pay money to come play with the tame cubs, likely unaware of their future fate. I should mention that there are also a number of other animals that are raised in captivity for game hunting in South Africa, but this video focuses on lions, maybe for their rarity and endangered nature.
After reading these two pieces this morning, I had to sit a little and wonder about the heart of man. Whatever religion you profess, I would argue that it is clear we live on a special planet, full of life and wonder. And that it is something to be admired, respected and preserved. Every day we lose dozens of species forever because of the way humans have chosen to exploit resources and environments, completely changing and manhandling the lives of other creatures with which we share this planet. At a time when we could potentially be losing these large mammalian species forever as well, instead of conserving and preserving, we are trophy hunting. What is in the heart of a man, that it would bring him good pleasure to hunt and kill such a majestic creature for sport? To hang its head on a wall? To grind its horn into a nonsense juice? As far as I am concerned, that desire, that pleasure or pride or whatever it gives, is dark and sick. It is a cancer that seems to be spreading with wealth.
Legislation to ban these types of activities or support enforcement does not seem to be feasible once the demand continues to exist. Plugging the demand seems a thin hope as well. Thin, but alive. And I personally believe that reduced demand is the more permanent solution to the problem of endangered animal abuse. I believe that there is something in the heart of a man that can be bigger than the desire to shot animals dead for fun and we have to figure out a way to grab that part of a person and bring him out to see what is going on. Anyway, that’s a whole discussion on it’s own, but I wanted to share these articles and hopefully have folks pass along as well.