Canned hunting


Chris McBride is a dude. He brings important concepts to the public in large text and colour pics. Probably his major work is The White Lions of Timbavati, written in the early 70s about the emergence of individuals with a cream coat and the conservation questions thus posed. Chris is still rocking and researching in Africa to this day. Go Chris!

His wife Charlotte is still taking the air too. I guess at some point she gave up her 34 mile nightly round trips through lion country in that breakdown open sided vehicle. Running to camp with her daughter, both singing loudly, when the car blipped out yet again. Nuts!

My coworker Kate dropped the White Lions hardback on my desk one day. I spent some time admiring the style Chris and his wife brought to the savanna. In one colour plate, Chris, long, lean and flexy, rocks twill flares and a fitted cord jacket like Jarvis of the Bushveld.  His wife Charlotte is splendid in a midnight blue kaftan. She coolly guts an impala for the camera while their daughter plays with a spleen or something.

For a scientist, McBride was open about his mental struggle with the white cubs. He worried they would be social outcasts and unsuccessful hunters. Foreseeing lingering starvation, he wondered whether he should sell them to zoos and invest the capital back into the game.

He didn’t. Told you he’s a dude.

Those lions were OK. But their offspring have become part of an international freak show.

Do we object to raising and shooting a lion in captivity (for a trophy)? Many do. The first thing we’ll say is it’s unsporting. I think unsporting may have started with long-range weapons.

There is a huge issue with keeping big predators captive, and it’s still allowed all over the world.

The thing about lions is, they cause a lot of suffering themselves. Of course they are merely expressing their lion-ness, and we can expect no more. We can’t blame them for their means of survival. However, the world would be a better place if they had a little compunction in how they killed their prey. Herbivores go down in a blaze of neurons, and they don’t have to be dead for the feasting to begin. Then there’s the way they separate the men from the boys, and their fanatical devotion to napping.  They’re not going to do anything about climate change.

And maybe this is fundamentally why some people are OK with raising a white lion, semi-taming it, then blowing it away for cash. What’s the difference between this and doing it to a food animal? What are our choices? The McBrides must have seen this one coming., and they probably still find it hard to answer. 

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