Armchair Animal Activism

Yesterday I saw the same story regarding TV host Melissa Bachman posting a photo of herself smiling and posing with a lion she had hunted and killed posted repeatedly across my social mediaverse.  You can read the story here  and here is the photo:bachmannObviously the consensus was an outcry of extreme indignation and horror.  I agree with this response to the world of trophy game hunting.  However, it got me thinking about the reaction.  Big game hunting is a massive tourism sport, it brings an enormous amount of money into African nations with limited resources and it is a constant source of struggle between conservationists, animal lovers and those interested in the economic benefit of  allowing it to continue.

Exotic trophy hunting seems to be an easy animal rights cause to get behind.  It is a sport limited to the rather wealthy and exists far away from reality for most people.  The outrage to this story is quite understandable.

But where is the outrage to the many other forms of sport hunting that are harmful to animals?  Duck, quail, deer and so on have scheduled hunting seasons throughout much of the country.  Certainly there are those who hunt for sport but then go on to eat the animals.  However, many do not.  Then what about fishing?  It’s hard to believe the outrage would have been similar if she had posted the same photo with a giant marlin on a deep sea fishing boat.

So is the emotional revulsion to the lion killing somewhat hypocritical if the same standard is not applied across the entire animal kingdom?  Certainly the limited number of certain species can cause greater outcry to ensure extinction doesn’t loom, but the African Lion is not yet on the Endangered Species List.  Is it really more of a reaction based on our emotional attachment to the MGM lion, the Cowardly Lion and Simba and the majesty of the King of the Beasts than a genuine and consistent reaction to the hunting for sport of the other species that share the planet with us?

Is it hypocritical then to feel so strongly about this one instance, as many do, and yet have no opinion on the pervasive hunting seasons for other animals?  Or is it okay that we seem to care more about those species that are idealized in film and literature because we have greater affection for them?

More simply, it may just be another example of a social media hurricane moment where those who continuously fight for the rights of all animals get the rest of us to join them in indignant outrage for a 24 hour news cycle before we move on to the next massively shared story tomorrow.

Possibly it boils down to the fact that we like some animals more than others, and thus are more interested in protecting those specific species.  I’d imagine that there isn’t a Mosquito Conservation and Protection Society anywhere.  It just seems there is a vaguely delusional and inappropriately self-righteous aspect to behaving like an animal activist who feels “so strongly” proclaiming for a day about this one incident if you have not done, and are not doing, anything else.


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9 Responses to Armchair Animal Activism

  1. Doug Wright says:

    I have a very hard time with this, maybe because of the size of the animal in question. And her posing over it with that big smile doesn’t help. Deer, quail, ducks in Africa I can deal with as they may used as a source of food for the impoverished.


    • I get that, absolutely, was considering the nature of the visceral response – is it about animal rights, or about our affinity for particular animals causing a greater outcry than others. Thanks for weighing in!


  2. Toby Wolter says:

    I believe your comments have some merit….however, I also believe that people,everywhere, are waking up to the injustices perpetrated on most animals. How many people, today, hunt for meat? And how many hunt for the head to hang on their walls? And the elephants who are slaughtered for their ivory (one every 15 minutes)……. I think most of the people responding to Melissa Bachman are becoming aware of how mankind is gradually destroying itself.


    • Hey Toby, thanks for responding! I agree, I think there is more awareness of the way in which animals of all kind are being treated. I was just interested in the extreme reaction to this particular instance from many people in my social media world, who don’t seem engaged on the issue in in any other circumstances. Thanks for your thoughts!


  3. shadreyer says:

    I do get your point but I think you also missed a few. For example yes the lion is not listed as endangered but as vunerable and we have a huge problem with the gene pool of our lion population getting smaller and weaker as trophy hunters go for the biggest of the species to ‘hang on a wall’. To really get a real idea of what the big problem truly is I suggest you look at whatthe rreal conservationist experts say (not those calling themselves conservationist when in factthey just profit off hunting safaris or are glorified alternative live stock breeders0 like Chris Mercier

    Canned Lion Hunting in a Nutshell


    1. 50 years ago an estimated 100,000 lions roamed across Africa.

    2. Lion habitat has declined by 75% since then and lion numbers have dropped to less than 20,000

    3. Only 9 countries in Africa have more than 1000 lions, while Tanzania alone now has 40% of the whole lion population

    4. The African lion is heading for extinction.

    5. Main driver for lion destruction is the reckless breeding habits of Africa’s human population. For instance, Kenya had a small population of 5 million people at the end of WW2, but that population has exploded to over 30 million.

    6. Human over- population in rural areas means lions are killed routinely to protect livestock.

    7. Trophy hunting is also a major cause of lion numbers declining, especially since the trophy hunter always wants the magnificent pride male, and once he has been removed, pride cohesion breaks down, with competing males killing all the cubs. It has been estimated that it can take 7 years before that pride can recover fully from the killing of the pride male.

    8. Because hunters have wiped out so many wild lions there is a demand for a constant supply of living targets and lion farming has increased dramatically in South Africa.

    9. In the last fifteen years the number of captive lions in S.A. has increased from almost zero to over 8000. That is twice as many as there are wild lions (4000)

    10. Lion farmers grow out lions for at least three years before they reach huntable size. To help pay the cost of rearing lions, lion farmers rent out their cubs to be played with by tourists. And they take in volunteers who pay to be allowed to work at a lion farm (deceitfully described usually as a lion sanctuary)

    11. What you can do to help the African lion:-

    a. Cub petting. Do not patronise any tourist resort where cub-petting is allowed.

    b. Volunteers. Do not volunteer at any facility where breeding of lions takes place. If there are cubs then it is a lion farm breeding centre.

    c. Write to your MEP. And ask her to ban the import of African lion/leopard trophies in to Europe.


  4. shadreyer says:

    And out of interest lion meat is far from palatable and full of disease namely feline aids which is present in a large amounbt of the population0if not all- and secondary infection from preying on TB infected buffalo. Therefore her statement about giving meat to locals is far from true and if anything could raise serious health issues too. We don’t eat lion in South Africa-only the restaurants in the USA puts lion occasionally on their menus as a gimic 🙂


    • Thanks for the incredibly informed contribution 🙂 To be clear, I wasn’t trying to diminish the horror of this incident, more listing the official ESL designation because a number of people I discussed it with said “well, I care more because lions are endangered.” My main issue was with how many people seemed so incredibly outraged by this photo (and frankly, it’s the graphic visual of her smiling, the gun and the lion that caused the reaction) who don’t seem at all engaged on the issues of hunting, game hunting, hunting for sport or any other kind of animal rights advocacy, so I wanted to consider whether it’s hypocritical or simply the result of our affinity for particular animals over others. Thanks for weighing in!!


      • shadreyer says:

        I’ve had a lot of conversations with people on why she in particular has received so much vitriolic attacks on this when in actual fact there are many photos of others trophy hunting, men, women, families and children.

        I’m not sure if the reason is a gender thing but I definitely think it’s got to do with her fame/notoriety as she has been in the news awhile back when a petition was put out to get her show cancelled by National Geographic. It worked, I believe they never renewed her contract because of that. So this is definitely not the first time she has been in hot water-although to be frank in South Africa she was hardly a household name until this. The other thing that definitely also got this whole issue steamrolling is the fact that the animal she killed was a lion. The last few years we have had a growing campaign against canned hunting with lions and quite a few conservationists trying to get the lion status raked from vulnerable to endangered. With recent developments with tiger bones getting more inaccessible for Chinese traditional medicine, lion bones are now the in thing to use. So we have such a growing awareness on lion conservation in South Africa and I think that is the area that infuriated many living here.
        The combination of these two issues just hit the right time and it has now blown all over social media. To be honest I’m quite happy if it’s a way to a means of getting our government to catch a wake up and reassess what is going on. Each province in South Africa has a different approach to conservation and different regulation. The province I live in is much stricter than our neighboring province for example.

        I work with volunteers in South Africa. The area I work directly in is more community and child care but I also work very closely with numerous true conservation organizations which are found in more outlying areas. 3 weeks back I took a trip to two of the conservation projects we work with. One is a large game reserve which hosts the Born Free Foundation and a wildlife rehab center. It’s also one of the most sought after game reserves in the world with apart from having local dignitaries like our president and vice-president, many international stars visit repeatedly-John Travolta and his family visit often. This particular game reserve was an old farming area and slowly the land has been restored to it’s natural state. And what is the most amazing thing is that they don’t do hunting at all on the reserve. It is a true example of how there are was of making a profit and truly being conservationists without having to kill an animal who they estimate has 15 years until extinction 😊


  5. Warren B. says:

    As a vegetarian for humanitarian reasons– that is, objecting to the killing of innocent animals simply because we find them yummy and the breeding of said animals for that sole purpose– I find this photo no less disturbing than a Peking duck hanging in a restaurant window, or ground-up cows’ muscles on a bun in a fast-food ad. Anyone who is outraged by that photo and then gets their sandwich fix at Chik-Fil-A is being disingenuous at best. (IMO.)


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