Thursday, October 15, 2009

How a single bullet killed 25 lions (long version)

It is the dream of every ginger (male) kitty to be the king of beasts, but if the dream comes true,

it could become a nightmare.

To be a king of beasts, you must first be a lion cub, and that, to begin with, is tough. The lions' infant mortality rate, due to predators, parasites, disease, starvation, and other lions, is two-thirds within the first year, so chances are that you won't live past your princehood.

But assuming that you can reach 3 years of age, unlike your sisters, who will continue living in the pride for life, you and your brothers and male cousins will be summarily evicted from the pride.

Now out in the wide-wide-world of "sport hunting", you will have to hack out a niche for yourself. Up to this point, you've been protected by your father and uncle(s),

and fed and taught by your mother and aunt(s).

Now, not only do you have to protect yourself, you'll have to feed yourself.

So, you join forces with your brother and two cousins to form a 4-lion coalition, for self-protection, cooperative hunting, and, ultimately, to take over a pride by defeating the pride males.

You don't know this yet, but when your coalition drives out or kills the pride males, you will quite naturally kill off all their cubs. This is genetically programmed, so that the lionesses of that pride will get back in estrus, and have new cubs bearing your genes.

Likewise, if, while you were a cub, your dad and uncles lost the fight against younger bachelor lions, you'd be dead.

And don't think that once you have taken over a pride, life will be hunk dory. It is a myth that the females will do all the work while the males lie around all day. A pride male has his responsibilities:

1. to patrol and scent mark your territory daily to repel any interested bachelor coaltion - daily

2. to assist in heavy duty hunting of, say, buffaloes

3. to babysit the cubs while the lionesses are out hunting

4. to protect the cubs from predators

5. to defend the pride from marauding bachelor coalitions

While #1 may get you tired, #2 may get you gored, #3 may get you irritated, #4 may get you growling, #5 will really hurt, and may get you killed, which is why male lions will be old, worn, scarred and decrepit by age 10, and seldom live past age 12, while females can continue to bear young till 15, and live past 16.

Still want to be the king of beasts? Well, let me tell you about something much more deadly than even a big pride lion in his prime who, though lethal, can kill only one lion at a time. This thing is called a trophy hunter. When I was camping in Africa in the early 80s, I observed the following tragedy:

The pride where I was camping comprised 3 males, 10 females and 22 cubs. The 3 pride-males, named Agamemnon, Achilles and Hector, were about 6 years of age and very much in their prime. One of the lionesses was indeed named Helen. Their 22 cubs were thriving under their protection - protection against the coalition of four 4-year-olds, who have been loitering in the neighborhood. By their scent-markings they have been intruding into AAH's territory. Due to the superior fighting prowess of the three pride lions, they have kicked the butts of the Gang of Four, so far. They will be able to repel them for another couple of years, by which time they will probably have become the Gang of Three. This is a fairly stable long term scenario, which in lion terms spans 3 years, no more, by the end of which the current crop of cubs will have grown and be able to defend and fend for themselves. Or so the theory goes. What was unforeseen was that murderous thing called a trophy hunter. He killed Achilles with one shot in the chess, while Achilles was charging at him.

Now with only Agamemnon and Hector holding the fort, they were no match for the Gang of Four. Valiantly, they tried to defend their offspring, but it was a matter of fighting to the last cub before they themselves were slain. The 10 lionesses became the spoils of war. And so, a new leonine dynasty was born. But through it all, 25 lives were lost.

And let me remind my readers, all this tragic carnage was caused by one single bullet fired into the lion-heart of the one Achilles by one egomaniacal trophy hunter. Shame on you, Safari Club International. Shame on you, Mr. President, for supporting hunting.

Anthony Marr, founder and president
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)


Unknown said...

These look like South Africans, we live in South Africa and at that time, the president would have been De Klerk we are going to start lobbying Safari Club International. Thank you for the pictures and the info, we'll do our best to get involved as we do know a lot of this happens and is known as "canned hunting" where they put them in an enclosed area and just fire at them and these days it's the tourists who do the "sport" as they call it. - we are appalled!

Unknown said...

Unfortunately in Africa governments allow tourists to kill wild animals in certains areas. Governments need money and that seems to be a good way get it... It's a cultural matter. It takes time to change stupid traditions and it takes longer to feel the loss of so unique animals...

jmuhj said...

There should be capital punishment for anyone who wilfully harms a cat of any species, IMO. There are no words for how I feel seeing those photos and knowing what goes on every day in this world. It is an offense against the Creator.

MaureenBahia said...

I was deeply shocked when I first heard this story, and to think it still goes on today is sickening. Any country that uses its wildlife as fodder for bloodthirsty tourists is short sighted and stupid,more and more people want to see live animals and are willing to pay for the privilege.

massimilianomariani said...

I love huntig accidents....

Roynsam said...

The scumbags in the poto are marked men...I have downloaded this photo and sent it around the World to friends and contacts, who have in turn sent it on to theirs and so on.....I believe in Karma..what goes around comes around,..These hunters are now the hunted!!!!!!

Karen J Brinkerhoff said...

Man was put on the earth to protect the Animals and not interfere in the natural balance or cycle of life. It is so disturbing to see the lifeless warrior taken from its course in life. And the selfish cowardice pride of these Men who have no value of life or the soul that enters it. I will never believe a hunter of that nature could value a human being anymore than the animal they killed stripping it from a family. And in comparison to human life murder does much the same it destroy's more than the victim. Horrific Crime against nature. said...

How very very sad to survive all the natural difficult times and then be shot by a murdering sadist, whom I am sure has a very very small penis and not just one life lost but 25 by one hideous human being!!!!!!!!!!

Margie said...

Once again, I say, very sad what money $$ can buy. It seems to be a morality issue, greed, selfishness, pride on and on! Those killers seemed so proud-what a bragging session they can have. From the looks of the men-none were starving and needing to eat the lion meat. I have never liked hunters. I find them cowards; always with high powered guns not just their own fists!

99dragon99 said...

You are an idiot beyond belief. You are against hunting, but apparently don't understand the true nature of wild animals.

You claim that a single bullet caused the death of 25 lions. Do you understand that the lives of 25 lions or even more would have been at stake years later? As soon as one of the AAH would have died of other causes not related to hunting, the same thing would have happened! It would probably have cost more lives because the pride would have been bigger.

You are using an example of natural selection, which by the way, has been happening for thousands even millions of years, to protest something that you personally don't like.

You apparently don't care about the millions of starving people on the African continent.

I think your priorities are a little skewed.

I am 99.99% sure that you will delete this post, because you can't face reality, you only live in your own little world.

Anthony Marr said...

@ 99Dragon99: Since you're still here, you are 99.99% wrong.

Norm Bates said...

I enjoyed your writeup and how it showed the structure of lion prides. But,I feel for you Anthony along with many people who made comments here. Though I think your hearts are in the right place, I feel that you are not seeing the big picture. I've never hunted any of the cats and I don't have a desire to. I do see that it is a major factor in the protection of the animals. As sad as it is, hunting is directly responsible for the protection and preservation of animals. Take the Scimitar Horned Oryx as an example. It is extinct in the wild, but because of hunters, there are over 6000 on ranches in Texas. Once their natural habitats are stabilized and protected, they can return to their natural areas. The same can be said for other species such as the Sable Antelope. Hunters want to shoot them so they are protected on private game ranches. Basically because they pay their way. Africa is a tough place. Increased populations and human encroachment has limited natural areas for animals. Competition for land and resources has started a war between humans and animals. The animals are going to lose out, unless they have something to offer. And what they offer is themselves as trophy's. Because of that they are protected. Areas without hunting, many animals compete with local populations and are considered vermin. When the local populations do not see any value in an animal they eliminate it. That's the facts. Commercial trophy hunting is not the cause of animals demise in Africa, but just the opposite. In 1977 Kenya outlawed hunting, and within 10 years, 70% of the animals were poached. Specifically Elephants and Black Rhino. Land owners in Kenya do not benefit from animals on their property so they have no vested interest in protecting them. When you have animals competing with your cattle for water and grazing you do not want them on your property when you put your family first. Now South Africa has embraced hunting. Their populations have gone from 600K in the 1960's to over 13 million. Why, because hunting is a business. Landowners realize that so they protect their animals.

All of these facts are not going to change your mind. But, myself and my fellow hunters are just like you, we want to protect the environment. I have many Vegan friends and we agree on practically everything when it comes to the environment. We only disagree on one aspect and that is hunting. If you agree to disagree on that one item, you have two groups of people that want the same thing. The protection of our resources and the wilderness that we both enjoy. In the end, we are much closer then we are apart.

If you go to my website you can see that though I do hunt, I also do much more than people sitting behind their computers and complaining, I'm out there in the bush and being a factor.

You or any of your readers can feel free to contact me so we may work together in order to save the environment and creatures that we both care so much about.

Good luck,

Unknown said...

Norm, my friend, I believe it is you who is missing the point here. You use a rductionist argument that flies in the face of simple humanity. Safaris and 'ecotourism' are the only serious way of protecting animals, coupled with strong national and international law enforcement and education. Your argument is logically flawed as there is no possible way that you can save something by killing it! You also site evidence that is from a completely different context (US vs Africa). I appreciate that you care about the environment, but until mankind can get over this crazy notion that we are all-powerful arbiters of life and death on Earth then we are heading towards disaster. i have a feeling that you will write this comment off as 'liberal nonsense', but I truly believe that hunting for sport is wrong. If you hunt for food, that is another matter (I am vegetarian mainly, but will eat 'wild caught' species such as pigeon and rabbit).

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