Day 376: Protectors or Poachers?

At least five South African lion farmers have been fingered in investigations in which lionesses are killed in Botswana and their cubs smuggled to lion farms in South Africa, where a multimillion rand industry caters to the international trophy-hunting market.
"I don't want to say lion breeders as a whole are involved but there are definitely five or six people that I know of," said conservationist Sarel van der Merwe, chairman of the African Lion Working Group.
About 700 lions are killed in trophy hunts in South Africa each year, with the average price for a lion hunt being R360000, said Adri Kitshoff of the Professional Hunters' Association of SA.
There are about 160 lion-breeding farms in South Africa in which up to 5000 animals are held in captivity, according to Fiona Miles, of international rescue organisation Four Paws.
The hunting of captive-bred lions and the extremely lucrative trade in lion bones with Southeast Asia is legal in South Africa, despite mounting pressure for both activities to be banned. Wildlife experts believe that the canned hunting industry fuels the illegal cross-border trade in lions.
Botswana is known for its strict conservation policies. President Ian Khama, a keen conservationist, has decreed a total ban on hunting from January.
According to a report in the Botswana daily newspaper Mmegi, the trade in lion involves live animals, skins, trophies and game meat. Big cats from Botswana are fed into the "canned hunting" industry in South Africa.
"Everybody knows what is going on," said Van der Merwe.
"The guys in the Problem Animal Control Group (a government body thatdeals with "problem" predators in Botswana) all have cellphones. Instead of reporting problem animals to their superiors, they call farmers in South Africa."
If the problem animal is a lioness, she is shot and her cubs are smuggled out.
"Her carcass gets buried and later that is smuggled out too, to be sold to traders who deal with people in Asia."...
he regulations under which a captive-bred lion may be hunted are set by the provincial conservation authorities. Though the Free State has about 80% of South Africa's captive lion population, most lion hunting takes place in North West.
"In the Free State a lion has to roam free for three months before it can be hunted," said a hunting expert. "In North West, it only has to be set free 48 hours before the hunt."
Miles said: "Lions born in captivity lead a very sad life. They are removed from their mothers within a day or two of being born, hand-raised and used for petting.
"When too big to manhandle, they are put back into the breeding system and then finally end up being hunted. Generally, the living conditions of these animals is substandard and unnatural."
Canned hunting was banned in South Africa in 2007. T he SA Predator Association appealed against the banning and won the case in the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2011.
International hunters mount the animal's head after the hunt but are not allowed to take the bones and meat of the animal.
Farmers most often sell the animals' skeletons to traders who export them to Vietnam.
"We double our price, just by selling and delivering the bones to Vietnam," said a trader who legally exports lion bones.
According to Pieter Kat, of the international advocacy group Lionaid, tiger bones are used as a "health tonic" in traditional Chinese medicine and, like rhino horn, have no medicinal value.
As tiger populations become increasingly threatened - the population of wild tigers falling from around 100000 at the turn of the century to the current estimate of possibly as few as 3200 animals - lion bones are being used to replace tiger bones. - Times Live

Every day I find a new reason to be ashamed of my species. For the love of money we will dishonour life, over and over again. For the love of money we will torture. For the love of money we will strip bare. For the love of money we will terrify. For the love of money we commit daily genocides. For the love of money we will rationalize our evil. For the love of money we will forget about the things we've done for our money.

Those who have money will not give it up, and those who do not have money are so busy trying to survive and not piss off their masters that there simply is no thought of making a change.

We have not been developed to think of others, to treat others the way we would like to be treated. We have been developed to think of our own interests, to only do that which will benefit us. This is the way we think, the way we make choices - the basic foundation our entire lives are built upon. Obviously this is a problem. Can we change?

We live in a perpetual state of trying to feel good, feel happy, attain some magical goal - we are self involved so that we do not spare a thought for real solutions to real problems - fashion crises not included.

Are we capable of compassion or empathy? So far the evidence indicates that these are rare abilities, we prefer to restrict our empathy and compassion to ourselves, and even then only in a superficial sense. We may empathize with close friends and family, but only to validate their egos and persona's in a relationship of co-dependency: you validate my choices and I will validate yours.

We despise seeing any form of change in each other, we want the people in our lives to remain constant, stable, predictable. Facing situations that may force us to re-evaluate ourselves and our actions is simply not an option - so static people and environments are preferred.

Human Nature is what we call it, what we use to justify ourselves. "We can't change, it's just the way we are." Obviously this statement in itself will ensure that we do not change, so long as we keep feeding it. We claim to have free choice - where? I do not see it. All I see is a bunch of people too afraid to stop being the malicious and selfish creatures we were shaped to be by hands that were not our own.