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.)
And you’d be amazed at the tolerance the $20 to $100,000 (what it costs a tourist hunter in total fees to shoot an African Lion) generates in a country like Tanzania where annual per-capita income runs around $500.
"Welcome Mr Bwana hunter! I know of a real BIG Simba, sir (or madam!) Let me lead to him, most gracious Bwana hunter sir!" Far from being "threatened" (as a whole) by legal foreign hunters lions have, in these “yahoos” and “troglodytes,” their greatest champions.
In 2001 Botswana banned sport hunting for lions. In 2002 "animal-control" officers in Botswana killed more lions (because of cattle and human depredations) than sport hunters had killed the year before — and those had brought in a cool $30--50,000 in foreign exchange each from Melissa Bachman-type hunters.
In California, where animal rightists got cougar hunting banned in 1990, government "animal-control officers"(supported by hunter license fees) have killed more "problem" cougars than hunters themselves ever killed when they were allowed to hunt. And this was apparently fine with the same greenies who lobbied to end cougar hunting.
In brief, for humans to thrive a certain number of animals must die. They’ll either be killed by people like Melissa Bachman with smiles on their face or by government drones punching a clock and frowning. Either way the animals are just as dead. Hunters will pay out the wazoo for the privilege and take out the beast in a blaze of glory, then honor his memory with a dinner party or rug. The government performs a sordid (and expensive to taxpayers) execution then dumps them in a mass grave, like Fidel or Che Guevara’s execution victims.
"Wealthy trophy hunters, many from out of state, will pay for the pleasure of shooting a lion so they can hang mountain lions over their mantelpieces." Thus ran, word for word, the “scientifically- based” campaign to ban cougar hunting in California backed by the Sierra Club.
So now more "problem" (eating Californians' pets, and starting on the Californians themselves) lions are killed in California by frowning (taxpayer- and hunting license fee-salaried) wildlife officers than were killed previously by (tax-and hunting license-paying) hunters!
But at least none get hung over a mantelpiece. Instead, they're dumped in an incinerator. Yippee! Happy now, Greenies?
"The Puritan hates fox-hunting,not because it brings pain to the fox, but because it brings pleasure to the hunter."
- Lord McCauley
"Puritanism: the haunting fear that someone somewhere may be enjoying himself."
- H.L. Mencken
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.