Hunting show hostess Melissa Bachman recently shot a lion in Africa, posted the triumphant picture on Facebook and now ABC (among many other enlightened parties) are all over her. An ABC World News segment shows New York-based Lana Zak petting a tame and cuddly cub on location in a South African zoo, while purring that: “lions like these are beloved in Africa.”
Maybe by some of Zak’s yuppie counterparts in places like Capetown and Nairobi. But not by Africans who live among wild ones. Lions are certainly beloved in Hollywood, the Upper East Side, Georgetown, etc. It’s a different story in the African bush.
Ask hunters who’ve been on Safari what happens when they whack out a lion or leopard or elephant. Sure, in Hollywood, Manhattan, London and Paris they moan and wail. But in the immediate vicinity of this form of pest-control the locals REJOICE! There’s a "Lion Dance" a "Leopard Dance" an "Elephant Dance." “Let’s celebrate!” cheer the locals. “A pest is dead!”
Go ahead and call them crazy because they rejoice when a menace to their livelihood and lives is gone. We wouldn’t understand. We only rejoice like that when our team scores a touch down.
Imagine the bug-spray man coming to your house: "Tell ya what," he says. "I’ll give ya 100 bucks for every roach I kill, $200 for any rats and a cool 500 semolions for a whack at the raccoon messing up your attic."
You’d be dancing the Watusi too. And the The Twist and The Hustle and The Bump and the Boot-Scootin’ Boogie. You’d also make sure to have a few of these creatures around for his next visit.
Turns out that those yahoo hunters who visit Africa from flyover America (Bachman hails from Minnesota) are much more “culturally sensitive” than most Greenies on a Starbucks counter in Manhattan or Georgetown. Here’s Paul Funston of South Africa’s Endangered Wildlife Trust: "The real solution to preserving lions lies in giving the local people incentives to tolerate lions on their land."
“To tolerate,” got that, Greenies-Weenies? In brief, given their fondness for the flesh of African natives’ cattle (and that of the natives themselves) Mr Funston infers that, among rural Africans, lions are normally considered intolerable. But this comes from a person actually familiar with the views of rural Africans. (i.e. not the type of person ABC saw fit to showcase on their show.)
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.