Desert lions can be hunted in the name of sport (Paul Goldstein)
Blog Words : Paul Goldstein | 19 October

All in the name of 'sport'?

Following the death of a young, healthy male desert lion last week, award-winning wildlife photographer Paul Goldstein lets rip at trophy hunters

Try to imagine being a desert lion, imagine the enormous hardships of just putting food on the table. When you turn on the tap this morning, imagine what a lion goes through just to slake its thirst in one of the most inhospitable and driest wildernesses in the world.

Then imagine that some of your traditional enemies (ie bipeds) are actually researching your species, determined to make sure that your precarious existence can continue to be eked out.

Now imagine someone with a gun wanting to shoot you. This hunter is maybe a fat Texan crammed into some ludicrous camouflage, he/she already has many animal ‘scores’ printed on his reinforced bed-stand, and carcasses as wallpaper. Now paying $30,000 to shoot an old elephant bull on its last set of teeth about to die a long harrowing death from starvation, could, in some circle be defended, not a desert lion, not ever.

Thirteen days ago a ‘professional’ hunter (shall we change that erroneous term to murderer) shot and killed a productive male, ‘collared’ lion. The hunter had a permit and was warned not to put this particular animal in the cross hairs, but as a despicable trophy collector, he was only interested in the fully maned head that would look ‘good’ on his wall.

There are precious few lions in the desert let alone productive ones. Alive they are of huge benefit to the continuity of the bloodline and of course to tourists. Dead and it can wipe out whole genealogies but can of course light up any room in the hunters house. It is not just productive and breeding lions that are cherished targets, somehow each year several permits are given out to shoot breeding desert elephants!

Any fully paid up member of the human race would like to know how this was allowed to happen and how both the hunter and hunting company have escaped censure. The most likely result is a ‘paid off’ cover-up will take place with the whole affair stinking, both the carcass and the corruption of anyone involved with this slaughter.

Poaching is at an all-time high currently, rhino and elephant bodies littering the African continent. Do not have romantic notions of poachers being loin clothed with bows and arrows, they are sophisticated murderers with high tech gadgetry and ordnance. But there is no value in a lion’s head not even in the murky and absurd world of Chinese traditional medicine, to allow this sort of mindless destruction to gnaw at one of Africa’s most priceless birthrights.

One live dark-maned male lion is a priceless asset in any currency, one dead one is just another stinking stain on an already tarnished desert canvas.

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