Throughout history, human beings have killed wild animals to defend, avenge, profit or feed themselves. They still do. But there are a few who kill for another reason: pleasure. Why the pain and death of a beautiful creature gives them gratification is puzzling – perhaps they had father issues as teenagers – but there are more important questions that need answers. DON PINNOCK tries to sort out the truth from the rhetoric.
Are trophy hunters protectors of biodiversity, as hunting associations and some conservationists claim, providing funds and a reason to protect wild areas? Or are they heartless killers of defenceless wild animals who need trophies to reinforce their fragile egos? The more vexing question – leaving aside for the moment peasant farmers defending their stock, commercial farmers shooting for biltong and poachers harvesting animal parts – is whether the only way to sustain wildlife in Africa beyond its national parks is for rich hunters to be able to kill it.
To make any headway with these questions, we need to ask if hunting protects wilderness, if it’s sustainable and who gets the money? Why hunters take pleasure in killing we’ll leave to their therapists.