This week saw the unwelcomed return of dentist Walter Palmer, 60, to international media coverage. Palmer was widely denounced over his shooting of “Cecil the Lion” for a trophy five years ago. He is now back with a series of gruesome pictures with a dead ram from Mongolia. The argali ram is considered “near threatened” but are a favorite for trophy hunters including a similar hunting trip by Donald Trump Jr.
As many of you know, I am no fan of such trophy hunts. I often hike in remote spots to see bears and other animals in their natural habitat. In addition to the controversy over the shooting of “Cecil the Lion”, there were subsequent controversies of an Idaho hunter taunting animal advocates and killing giant elephants or giraffes or famed wolves or mountain goats or hundreds of hippos for trophies. We also discussed the shooting of an iconic elephant as well as disgusting videotape has emerged of a trophy hunter shooting a sleeping lion. Then there was the outrage is over pictures of English hunters posing with dead zebras. Shooting a zebra is about as challenging with a long-range rifle as shooting a neighborhood dog.
In the latest case, Palmer reportedly paid up to £80,000 to slaughter to kill the ram. Palmer has a long array of pictures with giant dead animals and has become the face of those who pay a great deal of money for such thrill kills from elephants to lions to giraffes.
I cannot understand the joy of killing one of these animals or the challenge of doing so. I seek out these animals and take pictures with the same ease it would be to kill them. Yet, many feel a tremendous release in killing these animals and posing with their dead bodies. Aa someone who hikes great distances to see such animals in the wild, the idea of then pulling out a high-powered rifle or bow to kill one of them is as foreign a notion for me as would be cutting a painting out of its frame at a museum to possess it. There is a desire to dominate over the animal, to possess it. It is not for food. It is for fun. The fun of a thrill killing of an animal that is entirely oblivious that you are even in the area. It has the same awareness as it would if it were shot in a zoo. The difference is that a dentist travels a long distance for the enjoyment of seeing it die in nature.
I know many on the blog disagree with my environmental views and particularly my views of trophy hunting. However, after all of these years, it still remains a mystery to me about why this is such a thrill or release for these hunters.