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:Obviously 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.