Monday, 2 May 2016

Stop The Lion Trophy Hunting...

Last Saturday, 30th April, I joined hundreds of people and marched through central London to Downing Street, where a letter, signed by high profile celebrities such as Stephen Hawking, was handed in to David Cameron to put a ban on the importing of lion trophies in to the U.K. The banners and posters were vibrant and the lion warriors sent out a strong message to London and the world showing immense passion and a caring side which was a far cry from those so called hunters, or should I say killers. Our voices cried out, "Ban trophy hunting... save our lions!" The vibrations resonated and projected  powerful voices for the majestic cats. Moving speeches were made, and  hearts were warmed by the presence of Virginia McKenna, who has inspired many of us with the film she starred in, 'Born Free'. Furthermore, Virginia and her late husband founded the Born Free Foundation.... keeping wild animals in the wild.  
 Trophy hunting is big business in Africa and has contributed to a staggering decline in numbers of wild lions. The iconic cats have faced habitat loss, loss of natural prey which is largely due to poaching and bushmeat demand and increased conflict with people and their livestock. The number of African lions has fallen from more than half a million to less than 20,000 in just a few decades so there is no justification for the continued hunting of wild lions.Trophy hunting is unethical but has long been regarded as an effective conservation practice. I cannot understand why, as it has a negative impact on wild populations and is closely linked with poaching. The most targeted species are elephants, rhinoceroses, leopards, cheetahs and of course, lions. Trophy hunting fuels corruption, encourages unfair wealth distribution and causes the loss of healthy individual animals which are essential for reproduction and social unity. Why do they hunt? It is all about ego and wealth - that is all. They take the head of the animal home and hang it on their wall and the body parts are sold on for immoral profit. Trophy hunting has nothing to do with conservation, survival or bravery. The animals are shot with a rifle, sometimes at close range, causing unthinkable suffering as they avoid the head and in some cases need to shoot three or four times before the animal is down. This is not a sport it is a selfish hobby for those who can afford it. I have seen footage of lions being killed and they feel the pain. They cry out as the hind flips out and the animal attempts to escape its unnatural and horrific death. 
 Trophy hunting belongs to a bygone age, there is no place in the modern world for it. Many well known species are in decline and could become extinct within the next few decades or less. I will never understand the thinking behind the killing of these magnificent animals. The ecological tapestry of Africa is changing and changing fast. But what would Africa be without her animals? They are Africa. They shape the land and enhance our lives. The animals are our natural heritage and must be protected. They are worth far more alive, as millions of tourists flock to Africa purely to see the animals and to cherish the moments spent with them. Ecotourism is the way forward. I, myself, had an unprecedented trip to Africa, fourteen years a go, and I have never forgotten the feelings of wonderment which penetrated my soul. Nothing has ever touched me in the same way - long since. To be free is the greatest gift on earth. 
 Lions are essential carnivores, our earth needs them. They have, in the words of Virginia Mckenna, an untamed spirit. Moreover, they are the absolute essence of Africa. 

Virginia McKenna

"I'm Not Your Trophy"

Lion warrior

Lion's head

Lion Warriors

"We Are not Your Trophies"

Save Our Lions, Ban Canned Hunting

Banners In Piccadilly Circus

The Lion King

Dancing Lion


"I Am Not Your Trophy"

Marching Through Whitehall

Roaring For Cecil

Actor James Cosmo Speaks

Handing In The letter At Downing Street

"I Am Not A Trophy"

Trophy Hunting Is Cold Blooded Murder

Canine Lion warrior

Words and photos by Helen Ratcliff

With special thanks to the organisers...
#BornFree #LionAid #IFAW #FourPAWS & #Oneprotest


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