NO SPORT IN THIS SPORT

I just wanted to mention a few things about the lion killed in Zimbabwe that is getting a lot of attention for those who may be unfamiliar with Africa or safaris. It looks like it might still be up in the air as to who killed it, so I will reserve comment about the dentist from Minnesota. First of all, the lion was collared and tracked in a national park. It was a very well known lion amongst park employees, rangers and visitors. A park favorite in fact, having lived in the area for it's entire 13 yrs. Most lions in African parks, and a lot of places elsewhere are habituated to safari vehicles, and used to seeing people. Especially this one - it was one of the most photographed and sought after in the park. I have seen photos and heard about this particular lion, and I have never been to Hwange National Park. No matter what you might have heard about hunting lions, there is absolutely no sport in killing one. It's mythology. They are most often found just resting in the shade, slowly walking or possibly feeding. "Hunting" them would be like driving up near a mailbox and firing at it. I have been on safaris where lions are within touching distance if I was crazy enough. So anyone under the misconception of this being a hunt or some sort of sport, please understand that is far from the case. The other thing is that whoever killed the lion couldn't have done so without the assistance of a local guide who without question knew this particular lion (it was famous, and had a tracking collar) and knew they were in a protected area. In fact, from what I have read, they baited this lion to get him away from park boundaries to shoot it. That's right, they lured possibly the best known lion in all of Zimbabwe out of the park with bait so they could kill it. Geniuses. So, I think this guide and his employers/trip organizers may be more to blame than the person who did the actual shooting. And while I'm glad this is getting attention, given the depleted population of lions and other endangered animals, this goes on every day in Africa and elsewhere and you never hear about it, because the cat or rhino or elephant isn't a park mascot. So please know, this is not a one time thing, nor are the consequences confined to this one lion. When a male lion dies, another male will typically take over the pride, and this most often involves killing the offspring of the dead male if they are still young. So when this lion was killed, more than likely so were his cubs.

Post Script: The dentist from Minnesota has in fact now admitted to being the hunter. He also said he worked with local people to actually get the lion. He claims he didn't know it was a well known lion, not that that matters much either way. I am willing to take him at his word, and as I mentioned above the local team that took his money and felt an obligation to get this guy what he came for, have much more to answer for than this dentist. They are poachers. It's a much bigger issue than this guy, or the woman who pops up online often posing with her kills, or putting the dentist's phone number online. I am glad it's getting attention, even under these horrible circumstances.