This morning, while on my walk through a city park outside of Dallas, Texas I was unexpectedly back in Africa. The familiar squawking of a fledgling bird on the path ahead. The twittering wings and wide beak with mother bird poised to deliver breakfast. I’d not stopped quickly enough, or maybe it was the dog at my side that spooked them. They flew off into the nearby tree. I continued to watch the magical scene.
For some reason it threw me back to a confusing experience in South Africa. It was during a Sunday morning worship service. A fella stood and declared his faith in God and mentioned he and his teenage daughter were in “this lovely country for a safari”. His accent gave him away. As they left the church I called to them. I always like to say hello to a fellow American. As I’d suspected they were here on a hunting safari.
The hunters kept walking down the drive way. He appeared a bit embarrassed, maybe he felt awkward justifying his belief in a Creator while killing His creations. Of course the normal “trophy hunting brings in revenue” ensued, with my usual counter… “Why not just donate the money to wildlife conservation?”
Not wanting to engage further, although I was being civil, he and his daughter exited the property and made their way down the road. I stood watching them for a brief moment with a sore heart. She seemed no more than fourteen, yet already had a certain hardness about her.
This morning it struck me that trophy hunting and COVID-19 have something in common. Both show how conflicted we as a human race can be. We both strive to preserve and protect life at all costs, yet selectively turn a blind eye to violence and death.
During this pandemic the rich have the luxury to buy sufficient masks, even ‘buy’ access to testing kits. While the poor, less-fortunate and certain ethnic populations hit hardest by COVID-19 are left wanting. Life among humans is certainly not valued equally. The rich can buy their way in and out of just about everything. The less fortunate simply must take life as it comes.
Similarly trophy hunters don’t consider those of us who simply enjoy sitting and watching wildlife. Possibly even getting a fabulous photograph or out of the ordinary video clip. Trophy hunters get a thrill from selfishly killing and mounting a dead head on their wall. They rob the rest of us of well loved animals like Cecil the Lion or Voortrekker the elephant.
During this Coronavirus pandemic what are we teaching our children? What are they learning from us about protecting and preserving all life? About experiencing that sense of awe? About treating all life with equal respect and dignity?
It’s a grand time to take ourselves and our youngsters outdoors (where government restrictions allow) and reconnect with nature. Reconnect with ourselves in a way far too many of us have forgotten.
So what do trophy hunting and COVID-19 have in common? The dark side of the human experience.
Let’s not let either of them taint our spirits. Let us look to awe inspiring nature to renew our souls. Let us look forward with hope and do all we can to protect and preserve our endangered and threatened wildlife species. Let us help those who literally give their lives to do so… our wildlife heroes.
Helping is easy…
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