We have yet another disturbing account of a trophy hunt. This time the victim is still breathing. His name is Mufasa and he is a rare white lion who was rescued and sent to a rehab center. Now tribal leaders are refusing to give him back and instead want to sell the right to shoot the young lion among eager trophy hunters.
As many on this blog know, I am no fan of trophy hunting. I simply fail to see why it is impressive or thrilling to shoot a giraffe or elephant with a high-powered rifle. I just do not understand the thrill kill in shooting a beautiful animal. I often hiked considerable distances to see these animals in the wild and cannot imagine finding joy in killing them. We previously followed the controversy over the shooting of “Cecil the Lion” by American dentist Walter Palmer from Minnesota. What was most striking was the complete disconnect in how such kills are seen by hunters versus the public at large, as shown by the subsequent controversy of a Idaho hunter taunting animal advocates and other such hunts (here and here and here and here and here).
In this case, Mufasa was bought illegally and taken from his owner and brought to the Wild For Life rehab centre in Rustenburg in 2015. He is one of 300 such beautiful animals in the world and officials wanted to release him into a wildlife park in Limpopo. However, tribal leaders had other thoughts. They have some legal bills and other debts and want to sell the right to shoot Mufasa.
What is difficult for many is to yield to virtual extortion by these tribal leaders who are essentially holding Mufasa hostage: either pay us money or we will shoot this helpless animal.
According to the Sunday Times, South Africa’s North West Department of Rural, Environmental and Agricultural Development is now trying to get back custody of Mufasa but officials have been told that Mufasa is going to be auctioned off to “recover legal costs.”
The terrible thing is that they will find plenty of hunters who want the joy of shooting this animal and being the one to take its life.