Monday, 31 August 2015

Controversy... too soon?

(Photo editing credit: K.Lynch)

I'm about to enter the realm of controversy in the most diplomatic way possible. The above image is a photo-shopped picture of Cecil the lion, lying dead beneath its jubilant hunter (Walter Palmer) and guide. I'm aware that this topic is severely over exploited and outdated, however I have only just acquired an opinion as well as a medium to communicate it through.

I want to make clear that I am not about to commence heckling Walter Palmer. I feel that his life has already been ruined by the many ferocious smartphone wielding armies on the internet. (And also, he is way too easy to castigate).

There are multiple perspectives and arguments regarding the situation, but there are a few underlying things to address. The most common argument (primarily utilised by hunting supporters) is so: "Income acquired by the sale of permits for the trophy hunting of endangered animals benefits the conservation of the species". Okay, at first I was apprehensive about this argument, but after some research, it seems that there may be some truth to it. Sure, the income may be fed directly back into the maintenance of nature reserves and protection of endangered animals, but it still comes at a price: the systematic decimation of its animals. 

What frustrates me is the underlying motives behind hunters. They present these glorious arguments, disputing that they are performing inhumane practices by trying to justify themselves with grotesque amounts of money. Who knows exactly how this money is benefiting these "wild" animals. What do animals know what currency is anyway? If trophy hunters were as inculpable as they wished to be portrayed, then why aren't they prepared to donate the money to the cause that they so desperately advocate? 

I am not opposed to hunting. I believe that, while primitive, it is the most natural method of food collection since the beginning of mankind. However, times have changed. With the worlds population exceeding 7 billion people,  it would be ignorant to believe that sustainable big game hunting is feasible (hence the massive price of hunting permits). The days of nomadic survival methods are approaching an end, and people need to stop living their Rambo-themed alter ego. It is hard for me to comprehend that people could willfully shoot an animal as majestic as a lion in cold blood; entirely aware of the implications and repercussions of their actions. Show some self control!

Environmentalists opposing Palmer's actions typically produce the argument: "I shoot wildlife also... but with my digital camera". Yeah, it's hard to argue with that. I find it ironic that the only real difference between hunters and photographers is that one of them ends up with a fluffy, 3-dimensional picture on their living room wall. Kinda sad how materialistic that is huh?


This is where I reveal how much of a hypocrite I am. That's me just after what I would deem to be a successful spearfishing endeavor. I was in the water for over 2 hours, tirelessly surfacing for air every 60 seconds, then diving back underwater and repeating. After countless missed shots, shark sightings, and an induced ear infection, I finally made a shot! I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't having fun. Nothing compares to the rush of a hunt when you're submerged underwater, struggling for air and fighting the swell. 

The main difference here when compared to the hunting of big game animals is that I
was collecting food. It is not too bold a comment to say that our society has become sensitive to the meat acquiring process. I have a registered fishing licence, and abide by its rules. In my opinion, Spearfishing is more humane than rod fishing, as it eliminates the uncertainties. You know what you are trying to catch, and its size.

Did anything go to waste? Will there be huge repercussions for my actions? You know how the saying goes..."Plenty more fish in the sea"... not a mention of African animals.


There are a few things to take away from this argument:
  • I haven't really made any clear arguments at all.
  • This is my poor attempt to justify myself spearfishing.
  • I've probably pissed someone off.