This week both conservatives and progressives were disgusted at Trump's move to allow trophies of elephants that were killed in two African countries to be imported. Trump's sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, have posed with an elephant, leopard, crocodile and other animals they killed in Zimbabwe; Trump defends them as "great shots, they love it."
This is not the first time the love of trophy killing has gone all the way to the White House. President George H.W. Bush, former Vice-President Dan Quayle and the late Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. were proud members of Safari Club International (SCI)--the bloodthirsty group that sponsored dentist Walter Palmer's murder of Cecil an African lion in the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe in 2015. Bush, Quayle and Schwarzkopf actually demanded that the Botswana government keep lion hunts available for trophy hunters and they are widely believed to have killed lions themselves on safaris.
Rich Americans, Europeans and Japanese have slaughtered so many mature male lions in Botswana that trophy hunters use a "mane-extension service" to make the immature lions they kill look more fierce for mounting by weaving fake hair onto them.
The killing of Cecil marked a turning point in the public's awareness of----and disgust at---- people who get a thrill out of killing exotic, endangering animals. After Cecil, 30 airlines refused to ship big-game trophies. Palmer posed with at least two other"trophy" animals before Cecil, flashing the same "Aren't-I-a-he-man?" grin.
in 2012, the King of Spain enjoyed killing an elephant, to the horror of his subjects, and the year before, the CEO of Godaddy.com, Bob Parsons, videotaped his own killing of an elephant. After Jimmy John's founder and CEO Jimmy John Liautaud proudly posted photos of himself with murdered elephants, a rhinoceros and a leopard, some began boycotting the chain.
Safari Club International Glorifies a Culture of Death
Unlike hunting groups that give lip service to conservation or skill, SCI is just unapologetically pro-killing. It "glorifies a culture of death," says Sea Shepherd's Paul Watson. SCI holds extreme killing derbies that celebrate slaughter like, the "African Big 5" club, in which hunters try to kill a lion, leopard, elephant, African buffalo and rhinoceros, and the "African 29" club, in which hunters kill 29 different animals including a lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, buffalo, three kinds of antelopes, a wildebeest, impala, gazelle and many more. In 2006, SCI defeated an amendment to the Marine Mammal Protection Act in the House of Representatives that would have banned the import of sport-hunted polar bear trophies from Canada. The NRA said restrictions on polar bear killing were "anti-hunting."
Pro-gun groups and trophy hunters defend the killing of exotic, endangered animals as "helping local economies" and even saving other endangered animals from death. The logic is no different from maintaining that sex tourists who abuse one 11-year-old girl save other 11-year-old girls from abuse.
You Don't Have to Go to Africa to Kill a Zebra
There is so much money in shooting exotic animals that trophy operations have sprung up in the U.S. "Hunters" can shoot zebras and other exotic animals at operations like Circle E in Bedias, TX and Heartland Wildlife Ranches in Ethel, MO for as much as $6,500 a head. "Hunters come from across the country to take aim at trophy animals," including zebras, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A three-day hunt for water buffalo at the Heartland costs $4,000.
A chilling expose in the Washington Post says that hundreds of exotic trophy operations exist in Texas alone, "some of which offer opportunities to bag or buy such unusual prey as Russian boars, nilgais, barasinghas, oryx, zebras, giraffes and wildebeests." Unless the species is endangered, federal authorities will not regulate such operations, says the Post. In one operation "staff members apparently used dart guns to tranquilize animals, then herded them toward hunters for the kill."
Owners of such exotic animal operations, which are backed by SCI, say those with ethical objections are trying to deprive them of their livelihoods. "These animals belong to me. I should be able to do with them what I want," Charly Seale, executive director of the Exotic Wildlife Association, the exotic ranches' trade group, told the Post. "The government just shouldn't be telling us what we can and can't do with them."
But public opinion is clearly changing. In 2016, a woman who spray painted "perv" and "scum" on Palmer, the Cecil killer's, River Bluff Dental practice was given probation and community service suggesting that even the courts are disgusted with warped, bloodthirsty trophy killing.
(Article changed on November 18, 2017 at 18:41)