By now I've received more than a couple emails asking me what I think about Melissa Bachman and her now infamous lion posting on Twitter and the apparent ensuing hullaballoo following.
First- I don't watch television much, nothing on cable or satellite, and I am entirely unfamiliar with either her television show or her personally. I know she's been in the media after being bumped off of some survival show and frequently the target of anti-hunting groups. I have no idea about her hunting ethics or lack thereof. I generally avoid hunting television because it usually just disappoints or infuriates me. Celebrity hunters are something that admittedly confuse me.
Second- I did read some of the comments aimed at both her and at her detractors and her supporters. Gave that up pretty quickly too- a bunch of vitriol for naught. A lot more heat than light mostly and largely uncalled for.
Third- I've occasionally received the hate mail. I kinda hurts but mostly I just feel sad that somebody goes out of their way to try to piss me off. I suppose on a larger scale seeing someone publicly declare you should die painfully for doing something you love would pretty much not be fun.
Fourth- the comments I've seen, nearly in their entirety presume that the lion carcass was not eaten. In South Africa it almost certainly was…maybe not by Bachman, but someone chowed on lion and most everything else shot on the safari. "Trophy" hunting is hard to define for most hunters, I guess anti-hunters would be without reference.
The one fact I've seen little of is that of how the African model of wildlife management works. Unlike the American model- the success of the African model hinges upon the game animals having economic value. The very fact someone drops the (not inconsiderable) sum of cash to hunt lions is the ONLY reason there are even lions there to hunt in the first place. If lion hunting were illegal then the lions would surely be pushed aside by other profit making industries as a nuisance. Human farmers and ranchers have a long history of dealing with apex predators and crop depredators pretty harshly. The African model turns elephants and lions and other wildlife into a valuable resource rather than a dangerous or expensive nuisance. So rather than the local people poaching them off, they are protected and utilized as a renewable resource. The local populations utilize the meat, cash flows into rural communities without much industry and the wildlife have some serious advocates for their protection.
As much as the thought baffles me- it appears that old Simba took one for the team…without his death the entire area he lived would be devoid of wildlife and, maybe more importantly- devoid of lions.