Briefly, some big game hunters were out of a stroll in scenic Zimbabwe, undoubtedly scouting for rare and endangered animals they could blow holes through. For sport. They riled up a group of elephants, who took exception to the interruption–and almost certainly has some qualms about big game hunters because elephants are smart, they remember faces and scents pretty much forever, and they certainly know what a white guy with a “boomstick” means. The elephants charged, shots were fired, and Theunis Botha, a prominent professional hunter and guide who is credited for developing a hunting technique in which packs of dogs are used to run down leopards, was pancaked beneath the body of the wounded elephant as it fell.
I know I shouldn’t take pleasure in the death of another human, and I don’t. I do, however, appreciate the concept of karma and the sweet, smoky scent of irony on a warm summer day. In general, like most rural Westsylvanians, I don’t give hunting a second thought. My dad did hunted a bit. My grandfather hunted pragmatically, not for trophies but to fill the freezer. That’s how it has been here forever.
Trophy hunting is a whole damn different thing. Wealthy people traveling around the world, venturing out from posh enclaves and led to optimal positions to squirt out a few rounds at exotic creatures. When the kill is over, lackeys take the skins and heads, usually discarding the meat, to be shipped home for the great valiant hunter to hang on the wall.
The argument is made that big game hunting supports local economies by filling lodges, hiring guides, and employing a platoon of service employees who carry and load the weapons, for example, drive the vehicles, pour the cocktails, as well as perform the butchering and preparing of skin and head.
Along with this comes the reasoning that by allowing a percentage of rare and endangered animals to be shot and killed revenue can be generated to support conservation, which is sort of like arguing that school districts should invite rich foreigners to hunt a certain number of teachers and use the fees to balance school budgets. Well, maybe if it was my tenth grade algebra teacher?
I might be tempted to think better of big game hunters if they were pushed out of the back of a land rover in the middle of the savanna with a knife, six feet of nylon cord, and a compass and left to fend for themselves, but what passes as “hunting” in this context is really just “killing.” The guides know where the animals are, kills are virtually guaranteed (staff will make sure the target dies if the hunter misses or only manages to wound it–no one goes home empty handed!).