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Friday, October 16, 2015

Canned hunting ~ another big tusker hunted in Zimbabwe by a German

The tuskers of Kerala have mightily impressed me.  Of the big ones at Guruvayur, Gajarajan Guruvayur Kesavan perhaps is  the most famous and celebrated one.  It was donated to the  temple by the royal family of Nilambur in 1916. Standing over 3.2 meters tall, Kesavan was known for his devout behavior. Kesavan died in 1976 aged 72, on a  Ekadasi day, considered very auspicious.   His anniversary gets celebrated, a life size statue exists and a film made on it, directed by Bharathan was a great hit. 

Moving away from Kerala, it is an image that will haunt conservationists: one of Africa’s most majestic creatures lying dead on the ground as a white Western hunter poses proudly by its side. Barely three months after the shooting of Cecil the lion caused global outrage, a German hunter has risked the wrath of animal lovers once more by shooting dead one of the largest elephants ever seen in Zimbabwe.

Mystery surrounded the identity of the elephant, which was estimated to have been between 40 and 60 years old, but had never been seen before in Zimbabwe’s southern Gonarezhou National Park. Its  tusks, which touch the ground in a photograph taken moments after its shooting, confirmed its exceptional nature, weighing an estimated 120lb each.

Hunting animals is a sports – a colonial vestige  - killing animals and displaying them as trophies – was a pastime of British – and this practice perhaps existed even before ….. miles away in Maasai Mara, the Maasai people have traditionally viewed the killing of lions as a rite of passage. Group hunting, known in Maasai as olamayio, gives the lion population a chance to grow. Maasai customary laws prohibit killing a sick or infirm lion. The killing of lionesses is also prohibited unless provoked. Is there really any valour in killing a lion with many modern gadgets ? ~ and what is accomplished by such killing ??

In June 2014, I had posted on the killing of a 50 year-old elephant named Satao, one of Africa’s last ‘great tusker’ elephants.  Tsavo Trust, a Kenyan-based Non Governmental Organization that works to protect the security of wildlife,  reported that Satao was shot dead by poachers using poisoned arrows.  2014.  ‘A great life lost so that someone far away can have a trinket on their mantelpiece,” the statement said. The poachers cut off the elephant’s face and stole the tusks, but conservationists who have studied Satao for several years identified his body from the ears and other marks on this body earlier in June and immediately reported to authorities.

The killing of a lion caused global outage. Millions around the world reacted with shock when it was revealed an American hunter paying tens of thousands of dollars had killed Zimbabwe's most famous lion, Cecil. While the way Cecil was lured out of Hwange National Park to be killed was truly horrendous, it does not reveal the darkest side to Africa's hunting industry. There is more sinister and dastardly - canned - or 'captive' - hunting in neighbouring South Africa, where lions have been reduced to little more than 'farmyard chickens', bred in their hundreds on private reserves before being released just so that high-paying tourists can hunt them down using guns - or bows for the ultimate 'trophy' kill.

Now this report in MailOnline makes it clear that Cecil is not alone nor would be last – a German hunter reportedly paid $60,000 for a permit to hunt the animal as part of an 21-day organised hunt  and killed a large elephant with 122lb tusks in a game park in Zimbabwe. The elephant is thought to have been the biggest shot in living memory when it was killed on October 8 in Gonarezhou National Park in south-east Zimbabwe.

The German hunter was assisted by a experienced hunter who acted as his guide on the 21 day hunting trip !! ~ what a valour !! – plain gruesome mindless killing – not a sport.  The identity of the elephant remains unknown but it is thought to have been in its mid-40s and had not been spotted in the park before it was killed.  It is suspected that the tall tusker may have come from the Kruger Park in South Africa.

'His tusks were so big that they dragged along the ground when he was walking,' it is stated. Locals queried that - 'The most disappointing thing is that when a local Zimbabwean kills an animal for food for his family, he is sentenced to between 5 and 15 years in prison but when a wealthy foreign hunter comes in and shoots an animal, he gets away with it. What message are we giving the people?'

Remember that Cecil, the lion, a major attraction at Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park, was killed by US dentist Walter Palmer in July as a part of an organised hunt.   The lion  was killed with a high-powered crossbow, prompting furious protesters to brand the American a 'murderer'. Mr Palmer's dental practice in Minnesota was later forced to close temporarily as campaigners spent weeks outside. Animal rights charities criticised the decision this week not to prosecute the dentist, but officials in Zimbabwe insisted he had filled out the proper paperwork allowing him to hunt.

Mindless killing ~ who named them sport and what sort of virtue people exhibit by killing unarmed animals with power weapons ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

16th Oct 2015.

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