Few things polarise opinion quite like big game hunting, and the debate around the merits of another maligned practice, canned Lion hunting, isn’t going to die down any time soon.
Most recently, there was a massive uproar around the Umbabat Reserve hunt, which involved a heated back and forth between conservationists and pro-hunting parties.
Here’s where they’re at now – Skye, the Lion at the centre of the furore, still hasn’t been located, and someone is trying really hard to cover their tracks!
“Since the commercial hunt of the lion on 7 June was discovered, attempts to establish full details from the reserve – which neighbours Kruger National Park – and the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) has been like squeezing blood out of a stone…
Journalists have been told that it was ‘an old lion, older that eight years’ but nobody is being allowed to confirm this. Elise Tempelhof of Die Beeld rightly noted that if it was an old, single male, why the secrecy?
[Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency Riaan] De Lange produced a photocopied image of the face of a dead lion that was clearly not Skye, but would not hand it over for further verification. He admitted that he “could show a picture of any dead lion”.
Skye had half the incisors on his lower jaw missing, a scar under his eye and a two very particular scars on his rump, but De Lange said the hunter only had this one picture to go on which did not show the lion’s teeth or the distinctive scars on his rump.
He said the hunting permit included permission to bait the lion, which is not normally allowed, but that it was done to allow the hunter to make sure he and the accompanying professional hunter could identify the correct lion to shoot.
But he added: “It’s pity we didn’t have more pictures,” De Lange told me. “If the hunter had other pictures, then there would be no excuse, but he only had this one, so one can’t blame him if he did shoot Skye.”
Oops, sorry for maybe shooting the wrong lion, but these things happen.
Just to reiterate – Skye, the leader of the Western Pride, has not been seen since the hunt on June 7. If it was Skye, his cubs will be killed by another male taking over the pride.
The hunt is full of permit violations, but here’s one that really pisses me off:
“It is completely unclear how baiting and shooting a lion from a hide complies with these Hunting Protocols, [which] also state that “hunting should be conducted according to set rules to ensure that the spirit of fair chase is honoured” and “A fair hunt may be defined as a competition in which the tracking and shooting skills of the hunter are pitched against the evasive abilities of the hunted.”
I’m still unsure how one party having a gun, and the other not, is a fair fight, because that’s almost as daft as trying to stroke a lion out the car window.
At least some heads are starting to roll:
“…Skye has not been seen since the hunt and one of his cubs was found dead. The Ingwelala Board initially demanded sight of the trophy skin and was refused.
Amid subsequent fall-out over the issue, the chairman and vice-chairman resigned. The new chairman, in a letter to the Ingwelala members, has assured them that the matter will be fully investigated however it is unclear how this is being undertaken, resulting in extreme disatisfaction among members.
Experts stress how the social hierarchy of lion prides are torn apart by the dominant male being taken out, so this case of mistaken identity could have a far-reaching effect on the area’s population.
All of this because some American imbecile wanted the thrill of murdering a wild animal, and those who handle the permits couldn’t be bothered to do their homework properly.
A tragic mess.[source:iol]
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