I guess I have to be honest here before I go any further, and tell everyone that I really, really don’t like lions. They’re big, smelly killing machines. It’s easy to love them and think they are adorable when you’re looking at them on your 50-inch plasma TV in your living room in the suburbs, instead of living in fear of being eaten by them. [I really, really don’t like lions by Robert Mazambane; Sunday Sun, August 2nd 2015.]Also worth reading: a column in the UC Berkeley alumni magazine by environmental reporter Glen Martin, from which:
Ultimately, wild animals are disappearing in Africa because they are worthless to the people who live with and near them. Kenya’s hunting ban has been in effect since 1977. During that time, the country’s wildlife has declined by more than 70 percent. The country’s subsistence farmers and pastoralists can derive no legitimate utility from the animals. Indeed, wildlife makes their lives harder. Elephants raid their crops, destroy their water systems, stomp cattle and the occasional farmer. Lions, hyenas, and leopards kill their livestock. Better to shoot the elephant and poison the lion. An African savannah devoid of lumbering pachyderms and lolling lions may make a New York animal rights activist weep, but to a Samburu pastoralist or Kikuyu subsistence farmer it constitutes a lovely prospect, one promising peaceful nights uninterrupted by the trumpeting of elephants raiding the pumpkin patch or the squeals of goats enduring evisceration by hungry lions ...The problem is of course that a great many of us do live in a cartoon, one populated by stock characters as two-dimensional as Tom and Jerry.
Emoting over Cecil isn’t going to save the African lion. The African lion is not the Lion King, just as Daffy Duck is not representative of a typical mallard in a North American marsh. We don’t live in a cartoon, and our problems are not solved by anthropomorphizing wildlife. Blanket trophy hunting bans may make us feel better, but they will only accelerate the slaughter. [Lionizing Cecil Makes Us Feel Good, But a Trophy Hunting Ban Will Accelerate Slaughter by Glen Martin; California, August 3rd 2015.]
In a society dominated by shallow emoting, the views of people like Mazambane and Martin, who actually know something about the subject under discussion, don't get much of a hearing.
(For some reason Martin's remarks about anthropomorphizing wildlife brought to my mind the joke current in the late 1970s, when Richard Adams' rabbit story was all the rage: "You've read the book, you've seen the movie, now eat the pie!")