Playing on Emotions
In recent months the social media frenzy on canned hunting has really ramped up. A few animal activists in South Africa started a group to help "save the lions" and mostly they play on internet viewer ignorance and use emotional images and propaganda to raise money for the cause. Not sure how much of the funds raised goes as wages and salaries and how much actually helps "save the lions".
I'm totally against Canned Hunting myself and actually - I don't much like hunting either. I love all animals and I'm the one hoping in those nature programs the penguin doesn't get eaten by the seal, or the zebra by the lion!
I hate seeing a dead animal on the tv or internet - let alone a cat on the side of the road - I even don't agree with fishing!!
But to say all lion breeding facilities breed lions for canned hunting is just ridiculous. Ok - I agree - like all breeding - there are dodgy breeders, and those that plain and simple "don't give a shit" about the animals, but there are also passionate and caring breeders in South Africa.
To say all lion breeders are supporting canned hunting is like saying all pitbull breeders are breeding the dogs for fighting.
I totally agree that those breeding lions for canned hunting should be stopped. For absolute sure! But is attacking every breeding facility the way to go?
Even worse that it's done on the modern day bullying replacement, known as social media.
Most online "activists" have not been to the facilities they are attacking, and blindly share propaganda as fast as it's supplied by the Facebook groups and twitter accounts feeding their insatiable emotional appetite.
Yes - a lion photo with a slogan does tug at the heart strings - and we all hate the thought of them being shot - look at Cecil as a prime example of how the general public and keyboard warriors are against the killing of such a majestic animal - me too!
But these days with most photo apps, anyone can add text to a photo of a lion and proclaim he's been shot by a canned hunter. Much like airbrushing of fashion photos and then the media proclaiming the model is too thin - she must have anorexia. No one is safe from the critical nature of those sitting behind their computer screen with not much else to do.
But what about the breeders who actually are breeding for the right reasons - the ones who also love animals and have a passion to see them survive the human race! Survive TB. These breeders are also being lumped into the same pile as the dodgy breeders - because a keyboard warrior has had an email from someones sister, saying she thinks they are involved in canned hunting, because she was there last April and now where is the lion she loved so much?
Did she check the tree?
The breeders breed for safari parks, zoos, private reserves and other breeders. Responsible and ethical breeders are using a microchip scanning system to track lions throughout their lives to prevent hunting.
Some lions are bred for use in movies - there's one being made right now about canned hunting no less!
So if a breeder breeds a lion to be in a movie about canned hunting - does that make the breeder of that lion associated with canned hunting? The question is as ridiculous as some of the accusations being bandied about by groups online who although have the plight of the lion at heart are somewhat misguided by emotion.
Some breeders are attacked for taking the cubs from the mothers at a young age. So let me ask them this....
Do you drink milk? Take milk in your coffee? Have milk on your cereal, cream on your porridge? Whipped cream on your pavlova?
Do you know how the cows get milk? The calves are taken away on the day they are born and the mother (cow) is milked every day for the rest of the season.
Don't even get me started on the shredding of male chicks (those cute little fluffy chickens which will never lay eggs).
Sometimes in farming and or breeding, things happen that don't happen in nature. The reason the cubs are raised by hand is because these lions will be less stressed being handled in later life. No zoo or safari park will take a lion that has not been hand reared - because it's ultimately less stressful for the animal. Long term.
Some breeders also use the lions for research and conservation - which means vet procedures at times, again, having been handled by humans as it grew up makes the stress of the occasional darting less impactful. This is how healthy Big Cat DNA is being preserved.
It's hard to find a TB Free lion in the wild - I say the wild - I mean Kruger Park. No where in South Africa can a lion be released in the wild. Even if Kruger wanted more lions (it doesn't), then the released lion from the breeder would contract TB from eating the Buffalo which have TB. Good breeders work hard to breed TB free lions and try and establish why the lion contracts TB from eating buffalo - yet the hyena doesn't. This sort of research is what will save the lions.
Even if I did agree with canned hunting - breeding lions for canned hunting is still better than them being poached.
A far more pressing issue in South Africa is one I wish would tug at the same emotional heart strings as the lions do. Because lets face it the lions are not about to become extinct. Rhino's on the other hand - ARE.
Over 890 rhinos have been poached in South Africa in 2015 alone (as I type), and 1215 were officially poached in 2014. These defenceless peaceful animals are shot on private property reserves and safari parks, illegally, often with military rifles, and their horn hacked off with a machete, often leaving behind a baby at foot to stress, (or worse they kill the calf to shut it up).
The poachers do it for a small amount - because they are poor they do it. The ones paying the actual poachers are organised crime and they earn upward from $65,000 per kg of rhino horn. So you can see the appeal. A poacher may be from a local township, perhaps uneducated, and offered $50 to kill a rhino. That's 500 Rand and a lot of money to him.
As long as there is a market in Asia for Rhino horn then this will not stop unless locals are educated. The government of South Africa can not afford to house it's own people so it has no spare money to protect wildlife in Kruger National Park so it's become the private reserve owners task to protect the Rhino. The future of the rhino depends on private reserves breeding the rhino successfully - and then protecting them from poachers.
The Facebook groups and online supporters for animals need to put their money and keyboard voice behind the rhinos - against the poachers. It's black and white unlike the Lion argument. Poachers all kill.
Rhinos could be extinct before the keyboard warriors' children are 15 years old.
if you'd like to put your hand up to actually hands on help then we have a couple of volunteer projects dedicated to protecting rhinos from poachers and you can help out.
- Keyboard Warriors - please go ahead and share this blog.