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Melissa Bachman attempts to explain - and reveals her sad lack of understanding about her lion

                                               Community lion burgers will be served soon

In a recent post, Melissa had this to say:

“I understand the photo I posted from my recent African Lion Hunting trip to South Africa could be upsetting to some, especially for those unfamiliar with the wildlife conservation policies related to the legal, government-controlled lion hunts in South Africa. While this photo is not unlike many other lion hunting photos that are constantly posted on the internet by other hunters, my photo has seemed to spark enough attention to call for a healthy debate surrounding the benefits of controlled hunting towards wildlife and habitat conservation.

The negative response surrounding the photo was swift and emotionally charged. So after taking some time to let these emotions settle, I would like to address the issue with some facts about the situation, as well as the widely misunderstood relationship between hunters and wildlife conservation.

The hunting of lions is a highly regulated activity by the African nations and conservancies where lion populations thrive. The government issues hunting tags for purchase, which carefully map back to population control. Please see some of the other articles I have posted in this group in support of these facts.

There is a delicate balance in nature when it comes to maintaining the population of many diverse species of animals, in which the government and a multitude of conservationist groups are intricately involved. 

In the United States for example, hunters purchase government issued licenses which in turn financially support wildlife conservation. The success of wildlife conservation in America has been emulated by other nations including in Africa where hunters provide the critical funding for wildlife conservation and management.

I legally purchased a hunting tag from the government of South Africa. The money spent on that tag goes back to The Ministry of Environment and Tourism to manage national parks and other game management units. Moreover, the lion I killed was used to feed individuals within the local conservation conservancy.

I would not - nor have I ever - hunted an endangered animal or hunted outside of my legal rights in the United States, or anywhere else in the world. The truth is that the major contributors (and offenders) to wildlife declines are not hunters. They are the unregulated and illegal poachers, ranchers who poison wild animals to protect their herds, and other human wildlife conflict associated with human encroachment and development.

It is my hope that everyone who reads this takes a closer look at the relationship between hunters and wildlife conservation. 

To those who have criticized my hunting, I hope you will consider that only through sustainable use of our natural resources will we reach a balance for both human and wildlife populations. “

Now let’s examine the many fallacies in that statement, and remind Melissa that the lion she hunted had nothing to do with conservation. 

  1. We must be completely clear about something that Melissa does not like to discuss. The lion she shot was raised in captivity. From birth, this lion will have had a great level of contact with humans, likely being bottle fed as a cub by unwitting volunteers drawn in by recruitment agencies, been cuddled with for endless photographs, been walked with by streams of tourists. Finally, the lion will have been made available for a “canned hunt” where the lion is placed in an enclosure and Melissa with a telescopic sight and a professional hunter at her side will have shot the lion for her smiling trophy picture. 
  2. This kind of hunting has nothing to do with conservation and is purely a commercial activity. Lions are purpose bred to be shot, and because they have been exposed to humans all their lives, have no instinctive fear of them. Even if Melissa’s lion tried to avoid the hunter he could not as he was fenced in. 
  3. The South African Predator Association (SAPA), representing members who breed a diversity of predators for the gun, said in a High Court case that breeding lions for trophy hunting had nothing to do with conservation. Their Chairman, Pieter Potgieter, recently made his memorable statement “How are lions different from chickens?” referring to the commoditization of animals bred for the hunt.

So in terms of conservation, Melissa has no leg to stand on. She made an easy kill at a cut-rate price. Hunting outfitters like the one she contracted with to shoot her lion offer cut-rate prices depending on the age and size of the animal. For example, on this site, hunters can select from a menu of animals on offer. A “big” male lion sells for $18,000, a “young” male for $13,350, a female for $5,500. Other options are a Ground Squirrel for $100 and a caracal hunt (with dogs) for $1,500. 

Melissa then comes up with some more astounding statements. 

  1. “I legally purchased a hunting tag from the government of South Africa. The money spent on that tag goes back to The Ministry of Environment and Tourism to manage national parks and other game management units.” Yes, the hunt was legal, but the money she spent will have gone in largest part to the hunting operator and the breeder. Such profits will be used to breed more lions in captivity – it is estimated that there is now an assembly line of something like 6,000-7,000 lions in cages on their way to be shot. No money will go back to lion conservation. In fact, recent figures from Botswana, where there is (not yet) any canned lion hunting, show that government received  0.0008% of national GDP from selling hunting permits (averaged over the last ten years). 
  2. “The government issues hunting tags for purchase, which carefully map back to population control.” Actually, in Africa there are two kinds of lions to be hunted. Captive bred lions like the one you shot, and wild lions. Neither category needs “population control”, so perhaps you are confusing lions with deer in the USA.  One can understand the confusion as both species are sort of brownish animals when viewed through a long-range telescopic rifle sight?  
  3. “Moreover, the lion I killed was used to feed individuals within the local conservation conservancy.” Yes, she actually said that. Lion meat is not eaten by communities in South Africa. Maybe she got confused with recent reports about “lion burgers” being sold at restaurants in Arizona, New Mexico, and Illinois closer to her home. 
  4. “It is my hope that everyone who reads this takes a closer look at the relationship between hunters and wildlife conservation.” I think we have taken that closer look and found Melissa’s attempts to justify shooting a canned lion wanting. If Melissa was a true hunter, she would have embraced the minimal ethical hunting standard of “fair chase” – the animal should have a chance of evading the hunter, and hunting therefore would require at least a minimum level of skill.

Overall, Melissa shows a very deep level of ignorance about hunting that lion. The best that can be said is that perhaps she was misled by the hunting operators and actually thought she was hunting a wild lion (inside a fence). SAPA has recently stated that their members should inform clients fully about the origin of their lion trophy,i.e.  was it born and lived its life in a cage? . Whether this will happen is not yet clear. 

Meanwhile hunters like Melissa still seem to believe their own propaganda to justify the killing, and I would urge her to become much better aware of the economics, the actual community benefits and the captive origin of the lion involved in her hunt. It might actually be an eye-opener for her to consider her activities with a measure of ethics.   

Picture credit: melissabachman1.blogspot.com


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Posted by Chris Macsween at 19:54

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