There are times when apauling news must be shared. When I caught John Varty’s post on Facebook revealing the most vile secrets of trophy hunting in Africa, I was horrified. With his permission, what follows is his open letter…
In support of the ongoing investigation into the death of the dominant male lion Skye, who was killed in the Umbabat Reserve, I am republishing the letter I wrote to Theo Bronkhorst, the professional hunter who shot Cecil the lion. Incidentally, the American hunter Palmer and Theo Bronkhorst were never prosecuted.
I grew up in a hunting environment. Both my father and grandfather were hunters. I estimate that for every lion taken, we walked and tracked with brilliant Shangaan trackers over 100kms. Out of every 30 hunts, one was successful.
The problem I have with you and many of your colleagues is, you are living a lie, you are unethical.
When you sell in Vegas and other places, your brochures advertise that you can get the biggest lion for your client. It is well known that wealthy clients will pay extra for an extra large lion and elephant above 60 pounds ivory.
You knew where Cecil the lion’s territory was. You knew if you pulled a bait in that area, you would stand a good chance of getting him.
I trust you will tell the court how much Palmer paid you over and above the normal head tax for an extra large lion. Palmer is wealthy, his mentality is money can buy him big trophies. So he offers more money for big elephant, big lion and big bear.
I am suggesting that this is where your ethics evaporate. The lure of the big dollars!
The other problem I have, is that you know very well that if you take off dominant males, it will cause havoc in the social system of the pride. Is this ever discussed with the client that after you have shot the dominant male, infanticide will occur and cubs may die! I suggest this is never ever mentioned!
The next problem is you know that Cecil must weigh between 450 and 500 pounds. To kill an animal this size with a bow and arrow at night, you have to be highly skilled. Palmer spends his days looking in peoples mouths. He boasts he is good, but how good?
You know that a .375 or .458 should be the weapon used. However, you allow him to shoot with a bow. Why? Because he pays you more money!
Palmer shoots with a bow and arrow to feed his giant ego. Consequently, he wounds the animal.
So Theo, every which way you turn, you are compromised. You are shooting a dominant male with an inferior weapon because he is paying you more money.
You will counter by saying the money Palmer paid goes into conservation. How much of the $55 000 dollars goes into the park, the conservancy, the permit or the local community?
How does the death of Cecil and all the other lions you have taken, benefit the camp fire project?
How many trackers do you employ compared to the eco tourist operators who photographed Cecil day after day, week after week, year after year?
What was Cecil’s value alive compared to your $55 000 dead?
I have some more problems. When I grew up, baiting was considered unsporting. How many lions have you taken using the recorder, where you play distress calls of buffalo or calls of foreign male lions?
All your leopards are taken over a bait from a hide or with a pack of dogs treeing the leopard. Where is the fair chase in that?
As you get towards the end of the hunt, your client will take any leopard, male or female. How do you know that female leopard you’ve taken out doesn’t have small cubs in her den? Even from close, it is difficult to tell if she’s suckling or not. How many leopard cubs have you orphaned?
Theo, I understand it’s difficult to make a living and raise a family in a country which has been run into the ground by atrocious management.
However, you and your colleagues in Zimbabwe and those PH’s (professional hunters) doing canned lion hunting in South Africa, are nothing more than mercenary soldiers killing icon animals for money.
I suggest you sit down and do some serious soul searching on the cruelty you create and how you earn a living.
Tread lightly on the Earth
[The author is responsible for the accuracy of this content.]
Thank you John. This horrible unethical practice of trophy hunting in Africa that is destroying lion populations must be stopped. Please share.