Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hunting lion in South Africa

There's a piece in today's Times which touches on the movie White Lion and the big business and sport of lion hunting in South Africa.

Yes, sport. And big business

$40,000 a head for a lion bred in captivity: Canned hunting.

On the subject of which, in the early 80's  (I think), the late great, lauded heart surgeon Chris Barnard, South African, who performed the first heart transplant ever, was photographed infamously in the more infamous girlie rag Scope, on a drunken hunting trip, literally throwing cans of beer at a wounded lioness. [I've looked for references to this article, but can find nothing online...]

Hunting for trophies makes me sick. I have sat near 'hunters' on flights to South Africa, the proverbial loud Americans who are going to "Africa" on "safari" to "hunt lion". With fat smiles and complacent confidence about the wild continent.


There are ads in inflight SAA magazines showing men squatting proudly beside huge dead animals, holding the animal under one hand the gun in the other.

What men.

I am not against shooting a deer if you are going to eat it. Or a South African bokkie for that matter. Perhaps I should be, and I'm not sure that I could, even though perhaps I should. Since I eat meat.

But a person with a gun against an animal for fun? For sport? Sport is a competition between equals! I feel the same way about shark and big game fishing. Why not just bait a hook with meat and drag it behind a truck to catch a leopard, reel it in, hook in mouth, spitting and snarling and clawing, hoist it over the side and wack it on the head.

Wow. You impress me.

Yes, this post says nothing useful. It is a rant. A self undulgent blast of hot hair full of contradictions.

Now I'm going to the butcher for my sausages.


  1. And it's not just confined to SA; there are ranches in Texas where you can do the same thing - shoot imported exotic animals for sport.

    I don't have problems with hunting deer here in NC if you plan on eating the meat. However, some hunters take the easy way out and set up feeding stations to lure the deer in. After several weeks of doing that, the deer get used to feeding in that one location. They then become sitting ducks for lazy hunters.

  2. An older student at school asked me if I hunt yesterday. Her husband would like me to go. I've never met him, mind you, and the idea of going hunting, something I've never done, with a bunch of swell guys who have hunted feels like a social disaster for me. So I declined.

    I suppose dragging the bait behind a truck would be useful if you were hungry. Trawling, I think we call that.

    But the abstraction of hunting, where specialized people and tools practice what the rest of us do not lends itself to the bizarre. They believe they are at the height of the practice, and the rest of us are like, wtf.

    Any hunting on predators is a step out of touch with reality, just too much an abuse of power.

  3. The Hemmingway Syndrome.
    Far too much testosterone and alcohol-fuelled bravado.

  4. The entire idea of flying to another country to kill their animals is abhorent - almost makes me want to send 10 bucks to PETA - only almost.

    A neighbor bow hunts deer and shares the venison, which we do eat and thoroughly enjoy, but there is nothing "sporting" about the type of hunting you are describing.

  5. I feel so sick when I see them arriving at customs in Joburg with their rifles, coming to shoot a majestic animal, a beautiful animal that has been bred just for them to kill? What do they get out of it? The lion is put there for them to kill, there is no self defense or danger. Is there not some video game of a lion they can shoot at to stroke their egos, because surely it is exactly the same? Sick. There is nothing to respect in it.

  6. I agree 100%, you summed up exactly what I think.
    Hunting has been on a very rapid decline in the last 30 years and hopefully will completely disappear with younger generations obviously not seeing the appeal of it.

  7. Jy's die moer in vandag, ne.

  8. petro - ja nee

    Karen - Texas and South Africa have some strange things in the middle of SA you can still find big hair :-)

    frank - ooh, that would have been interesting. Good subject for a movie, and then it would all Go Horribly Wrong...

    dinahmow, mostly no alcohol, interestingly. But the bravado, that is the crux of the matter.

    webb, now...bow hunting. That gives me chills. I'm glad they and you eat eat the venison (pie?)- but I don't get the bow thing...

    Po - ja. I don't know. I nearly threw a fit when I saw the ads on SAA.

    Lambert - My brothers and father hunted occasionally long, long ago, and one brother still does, with a passion. Hunting and a love of firearms seem to go together. And that's always rather troubling.
    Carrying the biggest stick syndrome - it fascinates me.

    Vissie! Ja, hoe't jy geraai??? Die wereld is befok. Going to fetch the wors tomorrow, gods willing. I roasted my coriander today and ground it per your instructions.

  9. Feel your pain. Anyone who'd like to go hunting lions should be made to watch this first:

    Not gruesome at all and just the kind of thing that makes you happy inside. Well, it did for me anyway. It's done the rounds, but if you haven't seen it, it's well worth it.

  10. I agree 100%. Hunting to eat is acceptable, although I confess I don't think I could do it, except on the brink of starvation. As a carnivore I acknowledge my own hypocracy. Hunting as entertainment is brutal.

    Your concluding sentence still has me laughing.

  11. I remember the drunken hunt by Chris Barnard, the article appeared in a "Custos magasine". I have also searched for a copy of the article as my father burnt all my magasines/files/notes when I moved out of his house.

  12. I am ordering an archive on DVD of all the issues of Custos magasine. If you send me your email address I will send the article to you if you want. I know this article was posted ages ago, but.......


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