(…paying big bucks just to have bragging rights about it)

Some people not only have more money than brains, they’re also so pathetically in need of showing off to the world that they have it to burn, they’ll indulge in any kind of useless perversion to prove it.

To accommodate such idiots, South Africa, has apparently set up a system which has rapidly become a billion dollar a year industry which allows fat-wallet bearing visitors, seeking some kind of big game trophy, to pay big bucks just to get bragging rights as big bad-ass lion hunters. That is, instead of going after really wild born-free lions out in the bush (not only risky, but also not possible because those big cats are considered endangered), they are instead taken to special preserves where lions are bred and born there just so they can be slaughtered later for that purpose.

Which raises an interesting question… should such people be considered real “hunters” or should they simply be tagged as “pussy cat maulers” because of their killing tame disinterested lions from the safety of a specially equipped vehicle?

Hunting for food is one thing, and hunting against a marauding lion, much as the Massai do on foot and with only a spear in hand, is also still within the realm of acceptability. Trophy hunting however…is something else…which we regard as more akin to pimping and child-molesting than anything else; but, in this instance, killing more or less tame lions which have never been in a “wild” state, and mostly hand fed, is perhaps even lower than that.

Trophy hunting is nothing new, of course, but even when it was de-rigeur for Royals and other elites, with their posh safari comforts and logistics, the actual “hunting” of wild elephants, lions, tigers, rhinos, etc, was done more or less on foot and face to face, which made the odds of having the hunter maimed or killed by that big game he was after…more or less…even.

Such a practice as there is now in South Africa however makes a mockery of the word “hunter”. It has no redeeming social value beyond the immediate profit it provides those who work at it as purveyors of such a “service.”

We’ve only experienced two “big game” events in our time. One was when we were charged by a 600 pound wild boar in Germany, because our dog had accidently disturbed it. It was a close call because one of its last tusk slashes sliced open one of our bull hide tanker boots as cleanly as a razor might have, before our double barrel shotgun blast killed it. But at least killing that huge creature did provide us with some fine dining, so it was not a useless result.

The other was up in the mountain wilds of the former Kingdom of Laos. Here too, because our campsite accidentally blocked his travel along that jungle trail, a large clouded leopard made a wild snarling leap out of the darkness trying to go over us just to get by. As we fell backwards drawing and firing our 45 pistol in reflex… while one of his hind paws smacked the top of our head, as it landed dead with a large thud a few yards down trail beyond us. Seeing that beautiful creature lying dead and limp there left us with no thrill of accomplishment but only with a deep sense of loss, especially when our hill tribesman guide quickly began skinning off its beautiful pelt, and, as was their custom, extracting and offering us its two fangs as a successful hunter’s rightful trophy honors (honors which we later gifted back to him, much to his pleasure).

Well, at least these were reasonably justifiable killings of two actually wild creatures. Not tame hand raised ones. Creatures which we had not intended to harm, but were forced to do so from the circumstances of our encounter with them.

At least we can say we didn’t pay for that privilege just to indulge in any prideful sense of superiority.