Category Archive 'Big Game Hunting'
14 Sep 2015

Botswana’s Hunting Ban Costs the Natives


William Moalosi, a farmer and former hunting guide in Sankuyo, Botswana

The New York Times discovers that the 2004 hunting ban in Botswana is not popular with that country’s villagers.

SANKUYO, Botswana — Lions have been coming out of the surrounding bush, prowling around homes and a small health clinic, to snatch goats and donkeys from the heart of this village on the edge of one of Africa’s great inland deltas. Elephants, too, are becoming frequent, unwelcome visitors, gobbling up the beans, maize and watermelons that took farmers months to grow.

Since Botswana banned trophy hunting two years ago, remote communities like Sankuyo have been at the mercy of growing numbers of wild animals that are hurting livelihoods and driving terrified villagers into their homes at dusk.

The hunting ban has also meant a precipitous drop in income. Over the years, villagers had used money from trophy hunters, mostly Americans, to install toilets and water pipes, build houses for the poorest, and give scholarships to the young and pensions to the old. …

[I]n Sankuyo and other rural communities living near the wild animals, many are calling for a return to hunting. African governments have also condemned, some with increasing anger, Western moves to ban trophy hunting.

“Before, when there was hunting, we wanted to protect those animals because we knew we earned something out of them,” said Jimmy Baitsholedi Ntema, a villager in his 60s. “Now we don’t benefit at all from the animals. The elephants and buffaloes leave after destroying our plowing fields during the day. Then, at night, the lions come into our kraals.”

Read the whole thing.

06 Aug 2015

Lion Hunting Is For Cowards

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Peter Hathaway Capstick was an American travel agent who became so fascinated with Big Game Hunting that he first moved to Africa and became a professional hunter. Capstick then subsequently became one of the all-time most successful writers of blood-curdling accounts of hunting adventures.

Thousands of international commenters accused Dr. Walter Palmer, slayer of “Cecil” the lion, of being a coward. Capstick’s story of one lion charge offers a very different perspective.

In a life of professional hunting one is never short of potential close calls. With most big game, especially the dangerous varieties, one slip can be enough to spend the rest of your life on crutches, if you’re lucky, or place you or sundry recovered parts thereof in a nice, aromatic pine box. Of course, many individual animals stand out in one’s mind or nightmares as having been particularly challenging or having come extra-close to redecorating you. One of the hairiest experiences I have had was with the Chabunkwa lion, a man-eater with nine kills when my gunbearer Silent and I began to hunt him in the Luangwa Valley. We came within waltzing distance of becoming still two more victims.

My mind went over the lion charges I had met before: the quick jerking of the tail tuft, the paralyzing roar, and the low, incredibly fast rush, bringing white teeth in the center of bristling mane closer in a blur of speed. If we jumped him and he charged us, it would be from such close quarters that there would be time for only one shot, if that. Charging lions have been known to cover a hundred yards in just over three seconds. That’s a very long charge, longer than I have ever seen in our thick central African hunting grounds. In tangles like this, a long charge would be twenty-five to thirty yards, which gives you some idea of the time left to shoot.

Ahead of me, Silent stiffened and solidified into an ebony statue. He held his crouch with his head cocked for almost a minute, watching something off to the left of the spoor. The wild thought raced through my skull that if the lion came now, the rifle would be too slippery to hold, since my palms were sweating heavily. What the hell was Silent looking at, anyway?

Moving a quarter of an inch at a time, he began to back away from the bush toward me. I could see the tightness of his knuckles on the knobby, thornwood shaft of the spear. After ten yards of retreat, he pantomimed that a woman’s hand was lying just off the trail and that he could smell the lion. The soft breeze brought me the same unmistakable odor of a house cat on a humid day. Tensely I drew in a very deep breath and started forward, my rifle low on my hip. I was wishing I had listened to mother and become an accountant or a haberdasher as I slipped into a duck-walk and inched ahead.

I was certain the lion could not miss the thump-crash of my heart as it jammed into the bottom of my throat in a choking lump, my mouth full of copper sulphate. I could almost feel his eyes on me, watching for the opportunity that would bring him flashing onto me.

I lifted my foot to slide it slowly forward and heard a tiny noise just off my right elbow. In a reflex motion, I spun around and slammed the sides of the barrels against the flank of the lion, who was in midair, close enough to shake hands with. His head was already past the muzzles, too close to shoot, looking like a hairy pickle barred full of teeth. He seemed to hang in the air while my numbed brain screeched SHOOT! As he smashed into me, seemingly in slow motion, the right barred fired, perhaps from a conscious trigger pull, perhaps from impact, I’ll never know. The slug fortunately caught him below the ribs and bulled through his lower guts at a shallow but damaging angle, the muzzle blast scorching his shoulder.

I was flattened, rolling in the dirt, the rifle spinning away. I stiffened against the feel of long fangs that would be along presently, burying themselves in my shoulder or neck, and thought about how nice and quick it would probably be. Writing this, I find it difficult to describe the almost dreamy sense of complacency I felt, almost drugged.

A shout penetrated this haze. It was a hollow, senseless howl that I recognized as Silent. Good, old Silent, trying to draw the lion off me, armed with nothing but a spear. The cat, standing over me, growling horribly, seemed confused, then bounded back to attack Silent. He ran forward, spear leveled. I tried to yell to him but the words wouldn’t come.

In a single bound, the great cat cuffed the spear aside and smashed the Awiza to the ground, pinning him with the weight of his 450-pound, steel sinewed body the way a dog holds a juicy bone. Despite my own shock, I can still close my eyes and see, as if in Super Vistavision, Silent trying to shove his hand into the lion’s mouth to buy time for me to recover the rifle and kill him. He was still giving the same, meaningless shout as I shook off my numbness and scrambled to my feet, ripping away branches like a mad man searching for the gun. If only the bloody Zambians would let a hunter carry sidearms! Something gleamed on the dark earth, which I recognized as Silent’s spear, the shaft broken halfway. I grabbed it and ran over to the lion from behind, the cat still chewing thoughtfully on Silent’s arm. The old man, in shock, appeared to be smiling.

I measured the lion. Holding the blade low with both hands, I thrust it with every ounce of my strength into his neck, feeling the keen blade slice through meat and gristle with surprising ease. I heard and felt the metal hit bone and stop. The cat gave a horrible roar and released Silent as I wrenched the spear free, the long point bright with blood. A pulsing fountain burst from the wound in a tall throbbing geyser as I thrust it back again, working it with all the strength of my arms. As if brain-shot he instantly collapsed as the edge of the blade found and severed the spinal cord, killing him at once. Except for muscular ripples up and down his flanks, he never moved again. The Chabunkwa man-eater was dead.

Ripping off my belt, I placed a tourniquet on Silent’s tattered arm. Except for the arm and some claw marks on his chest, he seemed to be unhurt. I took the little plastic bottle of sulfathiozole from my pocket and worked it deeply into his wounds, amazed that the wrist did not seem broken, although the lion’s teeth had badly mangled the area. He never made a sound as I tended him, nor did I speak. I transported him in a fireman’s carry to the water, where he had a long drink, and then I returned to find the rifle, wedged in a low bush. I went back and once more put the gunbearer across my shoulders and headed for the village.

Silent’s injuries far from dampened the celebration of the Sengas [a people from southeastern Zambia], a party of whom went back to collect our shirts and inspect the lion. As I left in the hunting car to take Silent to the small dispensary some seventy-five miles away, I warned the headman that if anyone so much as disturbed a whisker of the lion for juju [a charm or amulet], I would personally shoot him. I almost meant it, too. That lion was one trophy that Silent had earned.

The doctor examined Silent’s wounds, bound him, and gave him a buttful of penicillin against likely infection from the layers of putrefied meat found under the lion’s claws and on his teeth, then released him in my care. We were back at the Senga village in late afternoon, the brave little hunter grinning from the painkiller I had given him from my flask.

05 Aug 2015

Zimbabweans Do Not Miss “Cecil”

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It has gradually become apparent that reports claiming that “Cecil” was famous in Zimbabwe and some kind of specially beloved lion were simply a fabrication designed to manipulate the public’s emotions.

In reality, Zimbabweans, when asked, reply that they had never heard of “Cecil” and are simply puzzled by all the uproar over the death of one perfectly ordinary lion.


What lion?” acting information minister Prisca Mupfumira asked in response to a request for comment about Cecil, who was at that moment topping global news bulletins and generating reams of abuse for his killer on websites in the United States and Europe. …

For most people in the southern African nation, where unemployment tops 80 percent and the economy continues to feel the after-effects of billion percent hyperinflation a decade ago, the uproar had all the hallmarks of a ‘First World Problem’.

“Are you saying that all this noise is about a dead lion? Lions are killed all the time in this country,” said Tryphina Kaseke, a used-clothes hawker on the streets of Harare. “What is so special about this one?”

As with many countries in Africa, in Zimbabwe big wild animals such as lions, elephants or hippos are seen either as a potential meal, or a threat to people and property that needs to be controlled or killed. …

“Why are the Americans more concerned than us?” said Joseph Mabuwa, a 33-year-old father-of-two cleaning his car in the center of the capital. “We never hear them speak out when villagers are killed by lions and elephants in Hwange.”


Goodwell Nzou explains just how ridiculous all this self-indulgent Western sentimentality about lions appears to Africans who actually have experience of living with lions.

So sorry about Cecil.

Did Cecil live near your place in Zimbabwe?

Cecil who? I wondered. When I turned on the news and discovered that the messages were about a lion killed by an American dentist, the village boy inside me instinctively cheered: One lion fewer to menace families like mine.

My excitement was doused when I realized that the lion killer was being painted as the villain. I faced the starkest cultural contradiction I’d experienced during my five years studying in the United States.

Did all those Americans signing petitions understand that lions actually kill people? …

In my village in Zimbabwe, surrounded by wildlife conservation areas, no lion has ever been beloved, or granted an affectionate nickname. They are objects of terror.

When I was 9 years old, a solitary lion prowled villages near my home. After it killed a few chickens, some goats and finally a cow, we were warned to walk to school in groups and stop playing outside. My sisters no longer went alone to the river to collect water or wash dishes; my mother waited for my father and older brothers, armed with machetes, axes and spears, to escort her into the bush to collect firewood.

A week later, my mother gathered me with nine of my siblings to explain that her uncle had been attacked but escaped with nothing more than an injured leg. The lion sucked the life out of the village: No one socialized by fires at night; no one dared stroll over to a neighbor’s homestead.

When the lion was finally killed, no one cared whether its murderer was a local person or a white trophy hunter, whether it was poached or killed legally. We danced and sang about the vanquishing of the fearsome beast and our escape from serious harm.

Recently, a 14-year-old boy in a village not far from mine wasn’t so lucky. Sleeping in his family’s fields, as villagers do to protect crops from the hippos, buffalo and elephants that trample them, he was mauled by a lion and died.

The killing of Cecil hasn’t garnered much more sympathy from urban Zimbabweans, although they live with no such danger. Few have ever seen a lion, since game drives are a luxury residents of a country with an average monthly income below $150 cannot afford. …

The American tendency to romanticize animals … and to jump onto a hashtag train has turned an ordinary situation — there were 800 lions legally killed over a decade by well-heeled foreigners who shelled out serious money to prove their prowess — into what seems to my Zimbabwean eyes an absurdist circus. …

We Zimbabweans are left shaking our heads, wondering why Americans care more about African animals than about African people.

Read the whole thing.

04 Aug 2015

Derbyshire on all the “Cecil the Lion” Outrage

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John Derbyshire explicates the two-minutes-of-hate observed all over Western society in honor of Dr. Palmer, the lion-slayer.

[W]hy the massive nationwide hysteria over a lion killed in a remote, badly misgoverned country, under some rather technical issues of local illegality, by a hunter who plausibly was not aware of those issues?

Because, inevitably, the whole incident became refracted through the lens of current public discourse in the U.S.A. into a skirmish in what I call the Cold Civil War: that is, the everlasting struggle between, on the one hand, the Progressive goodwhites who dominate our country’s mainstream culture—the Main Stream Media, the universities and law schools, big corporations, the federal bureaucracy—and, on the other hand, the ignorant gap-toothed hillbilly redneck badwhites clinging to their guns and religion out on the despised margins of civilized society.

Dr. Palmer is, of course, a badwhite. The evidence for this in in his actions. Hunting charismatic megafauna for sport is a thing only badwhites do. Big game trophy hunting is in fact as typically, characteristically badwhite as shopping at Whole Foods, or patronizing microbreweries, or listening to NPR are characteristically goodwhite.

For a full catalog of typical goodwhite lifestyle choices I refer you to Christian Landers’ 2008 book Stuff White People Like—slightly out of date now, but still reliable on most points. I have occasionally entertained the notion of putting out an updated version to be titled Stuff Goodwhites Like, with a companion volume titled, of course, Stuff Badwhites Like. Big game trophy hunting—indeed, hunting of all kinds—would definitely be listed in that latter volume, along with commercial beer, pickup trucks, Protestant Christianity, side-clip suspenders, NASCAR, and other badwhite favorites.

Read the whole thing. Derbyshire’s dissection of Jimmy Kimmel is too good to miss.

01 Aug 2015

Another Point of View

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29 Jul 2015

British Papers Hunt US Dentist, And You Can Kiss Zimbabwe’s Big Game Goodbye

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“Cecil” the lion.

A series of tear-jerker articles in British newspapers concerning the taking of a lion at the beginning of this month on the outskirts of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park has unleashed an astonishing tizzy of violent emotionalism and anti-hunting bigotry on the part of the international media’s ill-informed and urban-based mass audience.

Dr. Walter Palmer, a Bloomington, Minnesota dentist who is also a long-time and spectacularly accomplished big game hunter, has been pilloried for effectuating the demise of a mature, 13-year-old male lion, referred to by the Press as “Cecil.” (Wikipedia notes that, typically, “Lions live for 10–14 years in the wild.”) Lions, of course, do not have names.

All the heart-string-tugging malarkey about poor “Cecil” was apparently started by the head of one of those Timothy Treadwell-style, self-appointed, one-man “Save the Charismatic Wildlife By Giving Me Money!” Conservation Charities. Johnny Rodrigues, a Madeira-born former Rhodesian farmer and operator of a failed trucking company, founder and Chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, seems to be the original source of Cecil’s biography and all the complaints.

The story, as told to the BBC, went:

A hunter paid a $55,000 (£35,000) bribe to wildlife guides to kill an “iconic” lion in Zimbabwe, a conservationist has told the BBC.

Allegations that a Spaniard was behind the killing were being investigated, Johnny Rodrigues said.

The lion, named Cecil, was shot with a crossbow and rifle, before being beheaded and skinned, he added.

The 13-year-old lion was a major tourist attraction at Zimbabwe’s famous Hwange National Park.

Zimbabwe, like many African countries, is battling to curb illegal hunting and poaching which threatens to make some of its wildlife extinct.

Mr Rodrigues, the head of Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said the use of a bow and arrow heralded a new trend aimed at avoiding arrest.

“It’s more silent. If you want to do anything illegal, that’s the way to do it,” he told BBC’s Newsday programme.
‘Lion baited’

However, the lion, which had a distinctive black mane, did not die immediately and was followed for more than 40 hours before it was shot with rifle, Mr Rodrigues said.

The animal had a GPS collar for a research project by UK-based Oxford University, allowing authorities to track its movements.

Mr Rodrigues said Cecil’s killing was tragic.

“He never bothered anybody. He was one of the most beautiful animals to look at.”

The lion had been “baited” out of the park, a tactic which hunters used to portray their action as legal, Mr Rodrigues said.

Two guides had been arrested and if it was confirmed that the hunter was a Spaniard, “we will expose him for what he is”, he added.

The six cubs of Cecil will now be killed, as a new male lion in the pride will not allow them to live in order to encourage the lionesses to mate with him.

“That’s how it works… it’s in the wild; it’s nature taking its course,” Mr Rodrigues said.

If somebody had fallen out of that Land Rover, it looks to me like “Cecil” would have bothered him.

Mr. Rodrigues was clearly in error on a variety of details.

The hunter was not Spanish, and was actually the American Dr. Palmer. The lion was undoubtedly shot with a longbow, not a crossbow. Dr. Palmer obviously did not bribe anybody. He would have been paying, as is typically required for non-citizens hunting in African countries, per diem for the safari guiding services of a professional hunting company, which would have run something on the order of $1800-2200 a day. (Example: CMS Safaris) He would additionally have paid a $10,000-15,000 trophy fee to the government of Zimbabwe for the privilege of taking a lion.

It is by no means impossible that Mr. Rodrigues is correct as to the total amount of hunting and trophy fees contributed by Dr. Palmer to the Zimbabwean economy and in support of wildlife conservation in that country. Trophy big game hunting is expensive and represents the principal source of revenue in African countries used to protect wildlife and to prevent poaching.

If one looks at the situation correctly, Dr. Palmer was harvesting an aged, trophy lion in exchange for a massive infusion of cash. The ability of African countries to collect those kinds of trophy fees and the ability of sport hunting to provide African employment and to bring that kind of money into the local economy constitutes the best possible kind of motivation for African governments to take a serious interest in the protection, preservation, and survival of big game species. When one lion can bring Zimbabwe $55,000 in cold hard cash, you can bet that lions will not be permitted to be exterminated in Zimbabwe.

The British press stories, based on Mr. Rodrigues’ accusations, claim that the lion was lured outside the park intentionally by baiting, but the later accounts all make clear that “Cecil” wandered out of the park and was shot when found going after bait which had been placed legally to attract leopard. Nobody baits lions, but leopards (absent any other practical method) are typically shot over bait.

Further accusations express outrage that Dr. Palmer shot a collared lion, but “Cecil” was a handsome specimen with a large and very full mane. Looking at two photographs of him, I certainly cannot see a collar. It is obviously unfair to blame the hunter for not seeing a collar buried deep in a lion’s mane.

And, apparently, the harvesting of a collared lion inadvertently by a sport hunter is not unusual. (Telegraph)

The Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University has tracked the Hwange lions since 1999 to measure the impact of sport hunting beyond the park on the lion population within the park, using radar and direct observation.

According to figures published by National Geographic, 34 of their 62 tagged lions died during the study period – 24 were shot by sport hunters.

The Press piled on inflammatory details obviously intended to stir readers’ emotions. The newspaper accounts all note that the lion was initially wounded, and then subsequently followed up and killed by gunshot. And then! the poor lion’s remains were outraged and violated. He was skinned and decapitated, the newsprint screams. Urban readers are clearly intended to regard Dr. Palmer and his professional hunter as barbarians on a par with ISIS, running around decapitating lions. Of course, a trophy game animal is commonly skinned and its skull taken and preserved, so that they can be mounted by a taxidermist.

Zimbabwe, of course, is an incompetent and corrupt left-wing kleptocracy run by primitive natives, so all this international brouhaha is provoking exactly the kind of pompous official response one might expect. Dr. Palmer’s lion trophy has been confiscated, and the professional hunting firm is being charged with taking the lion illegally. Zimbabwean authorities now contend that the lion was taken on a farm whose owner had not been allocated any permit allowing a lion to be harvested. If that story is correct, of course, the violation would not be the fault of the American dentist. The visiting hunter pays that $1800-2200 per diem to the professional hunting company precisely so that his White Hunters will guide him to locations where the trophies he is after can be legally hunted and see to it that all of the necessary licenses and permits are in order.

Poor Dr. Palmer, as the result, of all of this has become the object of literally thousands and thousands of pieces of hate postings, many of them explicitly yearning for him to die a painful death, and he has been forced to close his office and go into hiding.

How well do you suppose the safari industry in Zimbabwe will be making out next year? What do you suppose Zimbabwean game license fees funding that country’s conservation revenues are going to be like? As we sit here, you can count on it, letters cancelling next year’s safaris are being written. And it follows inevitably that game protection funding will be down to zip, and poaching and illegal lion taking in the general vicinity of Hwange National Park will be flourishing on an unprecedented scale for many years to come, all thanks to Mr. Rodrigues and all the animal lovers writing news reports for British newspapers.

Dr. Palmer with trophy leopard.

08 May 2014

New Record Grizzly Bear

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Fox News reports that a Grizzly Bear taken last Fall near Fairbanks by a fellow out hunting moose has broken the Boone & Crockett record.

Larry Fitzgerald and a pal were moose hunting near Fairbanks, Alaska, when they came across fresh bear tracks in the snow. Three hours later, the auto body man had taken down the grizzly that left the prints, an enormous bruin that stood nearly 9 feet tall and earned Fitzgerald a place in the record books.

Although Fitzgerald shot the bear last September, Boone and Crockett, which certifies hunting records, has only now determined the grizzly, with a skull measuring 27 and 6/16ths inches, is the biggest ever taken down by a hunter, and the second largest grizzly ever documented. Only a grizzly skull found by an Alaska taxidermist in 1976 was bigger than that of the bear Fitzgerald bagged.

I’m not really a trophy hunter, or anything,” Fitzgerald, 35, told “But I guess it is kind of cool.”

Fitzgerald brought down the bear from 20 yards, with one shot to the neck from his Sako 300 rifle. He said he and hunting buddy Justin Powell knew from the tracks he was on the trail of a massive grizzly, but only learned this week that he held a world record. …

Bears are scored based on skull length and width measurements, and Missouloa, Mont.-based Boone and Crockett trophy data is generally recognized as the standard. Conservationists use the data to monitor habitat, sustainable harvest objectives and adherence to fair-chase hunting rules.

26 Feb 2014

Anti-Hunting Bigots Cost Namibian Conservation a Lot of Money

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Black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)

The rhinoceros is a traditional member (along with the elephant, lion, leopard, and Cape buffalo) of the dangerous game Big Five of African big game hunting. The rhino, and especially the black rhino, has been off the available game list for years and years, due to reduced numbers of animals as the result of their continual persecution by poachers. Rhinoceros horns bring lots of money on the black market, being in demand in Arab states as the traditional prestige material for dagger (jambiya) handles and in even more demand in the Orient for use as an aphrodisiac.

The Dallas Safari Club, an affluent and elite organization of experienced hunters, recently made a dramatic effort to do something for the black rhino. They arranged with the government of Namibia for a special permit to be issued to allow one hunter to harvest one black rhino, the permit to be auctioned with the proceeds going for rhino conservation. The animal to be harvested would be a carefully-selected aged bull and a problem animal needing to be harvested for the good of the remainder of the herd. This auction was meant to illustrate in the clearest possible way the direct link between sport hunting and the conservation of endangered game species.

But, despite the generosity of those Texas hunters, a vicious publicity campaign vilifying the auction and its participants and finally threats of violence, was believed to have significantly depressed the bidding, resulting in a much smaller than intended conservation payment.

Diana Rupp, at Sports Afield, told the story in this month’s issue.

In January, at a banquet at the Dallas Safari Club (DSC) convention, something historic and important happened in the annals of hunting as a conservation tool. A permit to hunt a black rhino was auctioned to the highest bidder, fetching a cool $350,000–100 percent of which went straight back into the rhino conservation program in the nation of Namibia, where the hunt will take place.

You probably heard about the controversy surrounding the auction. In the real world of scientific wildlife management, there actually wasn’t much controversy at all about the idea–every important international scientific wildlife organization, including the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), agreed that auctioning the permit was a sound idea for conservation and that the money it would raise would be of tremendous importance to Namibia’s rhino conservation program. The hunt would target a specific old male—one that was past its breeding prime and had become dangerous to the young rhinos in its herd—and the money raised from hunting this single, selected rhino would contribute to saving the overall black rhino population.

Namibia hoped that auctioning a permit in the USA would push the price of the permit (and the money going back to its conservation program) to extraordinarily high levels. Unfortunately, it also brought the antihunters out of the woodwork. No amount of explaining the science behind using carefully controlled hunting as a conservation tool could placate the screaming masses who poured their energies into thousands of virulent Internet posts. They were not attempting to raise money to help rhinos–far from it. They were only attempting to stop the hunt.

The online attacks escalated into death threats to DSC members and their families. Whoever purchased the auction tag, it was made clear, would be the target of threats not just to themselves, but to their families and businesses.

Understandably, many potential high-dollar bidders pulled out. You can’t blame them for not wanting to put their family members and employees at risk. And suddenly a tag that at one point might have sold for as much as a million dollars had almost no takers.

Fortunately, several brave and generous DSC supporters stepped into the breach, and the hunter who did purchase the tag (for what is still a record-setting amount), should be considered a conservation hero. One of the loudest detractors of the rhino hunt was Bob Barker, the anti-hunting former host of The Price is Right. Responding to him on CNN’s Piers Morgan Live a few nights after the auction, the hunter said he wanted to tell Bob that, with regard to the rhino permit, “the price was wrong.”

He was correct. This auction should have raised a lot more for conservation, and the only reason it didn’t is because of the shortsighted tactics of closed-minded people who don’t understand wildlife management.

06 Feb 2014

Leopard Charge


Sensitive urban viewers should avoid watching this video, which contains extreme violence and death.

Hunting Report:

In Zimbabwe, yet another P[rofessional] H[unter] has been attacked by wild game in the field. This time a leopard mauled PH Chap Esterhuizen of Martin Pieters Safaris in the Omay North Campfire Area. Esterhuizen and Pieters were guiding subscriber Aaron Baker and his brother Mike while filming an episode of the television show, Hunting with the Pros. Seems Baker’s brother wounded a leopard late on the evening of August 24 [2009]. After searching for a while, the PHs decided they should return in the morning when they would have plenty of light. The next day they jumped the leopard not 20 yards from where they had quit searching the night before.

The cat ran 100 yards and took cover in thick grass, where the group tried to flush him by throwing rocks. The leopard finally came out silently, low and fast. The group of hunters shot five times as it came, connecting with a load of buckshot and a round of .458 that hit squarely, breaking the cat’s left shoulder. The cat spun and launched itself at Esterhuizen, covering 12 yards in two leaps on three legs. Although Esterhuizen tried to feed the animal his rifle, the leopard hit him full on in the chest, biting him and knocking him over. Esterhuizen momentarily pushed off the cat, which then locked onto his left wrist. After three kicks, he got the cat off of his chest, but it remained clamped on his arm. At this point Baker’s brother got a clear shot and killed the leopard less than five feet from where the attack had begun.

Esterhuizen was flown out by private plane to a hospital in Bulawayo. Both of his calves were lacerated and he had four puncture wounds in the chest and multiple bites to his left arm. Luckily, he is expected to make a quick recovery. The leopard weighed in at 160 pounds.

When wounded, a leopard has a particularly good chance of avenging himself on the hunter obligated to follow him up. Leopards are not enormously large. They have excellent natural camouflage, and they can charge very fast. When he arrives in the hunter’s lap, the aggrieved leopard will be found to constitute a solid mass of muscle operating razor-sharp teeth and claws. His habit of dining on carrion also assures that the leopard’s edged weapons will be carrying a motherload of highly infectious bacteria.

Apparently, this unlucky professional hunter recovered. The leopard, of course, did not, but he certainly got his licks in. That was a nice charge. No hesitation at all. He managed to inflict a very impressive of damage in the short amount of time he had. I wondered how it would have come out, had there been fewer staff involved. I would guess, followed up by a single human, this leopard would have won.

Don’t feel too sorry for the leopard, viewers. He was a hunter himself and took just as much pleasure in the stalk and the kill. In the end, we all have to go, and this leopard went out bravely, leaving major marks on his enemy, and in hot blood. I’d say that was a pretty good way to go, assuming one doesn’t actually get to win.

Hat to to African Hunter Henry Bernatonis.

16 May 2013

“How I Killed the Tiger”

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Tiger Again Coming To The Charge

The actual story referred to in the title of Lieut.-Colonel Frank Sheffield’s How I Killed the Tiger (1902) amounts to only 36-pages (including numerous, highly evocative, illustrations), but even the second edition is not easy to find and will cost you something in the neighborhood of $100.

But we happily live in the age of marvels, in which even such esoteric treasures are already scanned in and sitting there available in electronic form at the touch of a fingertip.

Col. Sheffield’s yarn is quite a story.

I would not myself want to take on a fully grown Bengal Tiger with an unreliable percussion fowling piece, even if I had a couple of General John Jacob’s explosive bullets in my pocket. But, if I had been so foolhardy as to do so and wound up once knocked down and mauled by a tiger, I’d like to hope that –like Col. Shefield–, faced with another charge, I’d still have “some kick in me” and stand there, Bowie knife in hand, “determined to make a hard fight for it.”

“How I Killed the Tiger” text

“How I Killed the Tiger” plates

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

25 Mar 2013

David Chancellor’s “Hunters”

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South African photographer David Chancellor’s new book on African Big Game trophy hunters, Hunters was scheduled for publication on March 15, but must have been delayed since Amazon does not have copies yet.

Slate recently published a preliminary review, offering a sample of Chancellor’s photographs which are certainly worth looking at.

Big Game trophy hunting is an extremely expensive activity, and its end result is commonly the personal trophy room, a grandiose display of taxidermy testifying to levels of wealth and superbia which almost inevitably provoke a negative reaction. Today’s popular culture is pathologically hostile to both, and is even more predictably hostile to hunting, especially the hunting of large, charismatic, and commonly classified as “endangered” Big Game species. So the cards are obviously stacked against the human subjects of Chancellor’s photography from the beginning.

I get the impression that Chancellor succumbed a bit by contagion to some understanding of the hunting instinct, but his careful phraseology seems determined to maintain an “objective,” supposedly neutral, perspective on all this.

I suppose the photographer must have found himself on the horns of a grave dilemma. On the one hand, it would obviously be totally unacceptable to the community of fashion to be found unreservedly celebrating killing animals for sport, and, worse, for trophies! Yet, who but the members of the Dallas Safari Club and others of the same ilk are going to be buyers of such a book? Describing his subject matter in terms agreeable to PETA would not be such a good idea either. So Mr. Chancellor is clearly obliged to walk a very careful prose line.

David Chancellor’s book, Hunters, is a collection of work from photographer, who is based in South Africa, on the world of tourist trophy hunting.

“For many years I’ve been interested in the increasing overpopulation of man and how that clashes with wildlife,” Chancellor said about his initial interest in photographing Hunters.

Hunters examines the actual hunts as well as the end result, where hunters return to their homes filled with their “trophies.”

He also examines local African communities who benefit from the large amounts of money hunters pay to go on these hunts. Chancellor’s images bring to life a hot topic that has divided hunters, conservationists, and animal-rights activists. He isn’t making any judgments about any of the groups and hopes his images will allow for a better understanding of the process from all sides.

“I was working with hunters who were saying hunting and conservation go hand-in-hand, and that was when things got interesting to me,” he said.

To gain access to the hunters, Chancellor needed the help of individuals who accompanied mostly Americans and Eastern Europeans on hunts around Africa. …

Chancellor quickly discovered while trailing the hunters that he needed to be present with them throughout the entire length of the hunt in order to create the most accurate and emotional images.

“You need to be there the second after they’ve done what they’re going to do because that is the moment they will react to an animal after a kill,” Chancellor said. …

To complete the cycle, Chancellor wanted to photograph the trophy rooms of the more seasoned hunters and spent time in Dallas with members of the Dallas Safari Club.

“I found myself documenting these guys who say they’ve hunted for 25 years and want to hunt a leopard or lion, and I photographed them … but at best what I’ll produce from that hunt is an individual with a lion … the only way (to complete the book) was to go back to where he actually has all of his trophies and produce a portrait that would complete the task, to show his entire career in one portrait,” Chancellor said.

23 Aug 2012

Shooting An Elephant

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An elephant hunting video in which the professional hunter very competently stops an unexpected charge. I’d call that a pretty good moment of excitement. It would be nice to know in what country they were hunting, what caliber rifle (probably a .458) that professional was carrying, but they never properly annotate these.

And, yes, Virginia, there are a number of African countries in which elephants can legally be hunted, in which elephant numbers are excessive, elephant populations are rising, and in which elephants create serious problems by coming into conflict with human beings. Trophy fees for elephants are extremely high, and the monies raised fund the conservation departments which control poaching.

Poor jumbo did bite the dust but, before shedding big salty tears, do take note that in the seconds prior to his demise he was advancing purposefully on the humans in the video with lethal intent. The elephant initiated hostilities against people who had every bit as much right to be walking in that African bush as he did.

Shooting a charging elephant at close range is an experience most of us will never have. In many cases, I expect just as well, because not everybody could shoot as fast and as straight as that professional hunter.

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