Virginia McKenna is the famous lady who starred in the film Born Free with her husband Bill and a lion. It is a film that many people anywhere on the planet will remember.
The film was made more than half a century ago. At that time Virginia McKenna says that there were a hundred thousand lions, perhaps more, across Africa. Today we are told (and this is an estimate-it could be worse) that there are perhaps as few as 20,000 remaining.
The lion’s habitat is being destroyed by human activity and their natural prey is in decline also due to human activity. Then lions are compelled to stray onto land claimed and owned by people where they are relentlessly persecuted, shot or poisoned. The human is doing a wonderful job at getting rid of the lion on planet Earth.
In addition to the dire state of human activity referred to above, we have the trophy hunter, most of whom are Americans it is saddening to report because America has in general a very good relationship with the cat.
You may remember the infamous Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer who killed Cecil the lion. Nothing happened to him by the way. The whole thing as usual has fizzled out and he has not been punished except that he received mass disapprobation from all quarters and was forced to keep away from work for a long time as a result.
Walter Palmer, though, is not alone in trophy hunting lions. Every year hundreds of majestic lions meet the same fate. Their lives snuffed out at the behest of crazy sport hunters who like to stuff the heads of their slaughtered lions and mount them on the wall of their home. This is a terribly sad and crazy business that only humans could become addicted to.
Virginia McKenna tells us that the Born Free Foundation and other who are concerned about the plight of lions will be taking their case to the British government to do something about it. There will be a protest and a march on Downing Street (next Saturday) calling upon David Cameron the Prime Minister to add his weight to the cause of banning the importation of lion products into the UK. Other countries such as Australia, France and the United States have toughened up their laws on the importation of lion products. It is about time that the UK followed suit. Let’s prove ourselves to be animal lovers through our actions.
Virginia also said that Britain should be supporting population censuses to guide future lion conservation. Britain should be assisting in scientific research and advice and provide resources to frontline states. Britain, she says, should be pressing the IUCN Red List to classify the lion as a truly endangered species. The IUCN Red List have not changed their endangerment classification since 1996. From then until today the species is classified as “Vulnerable”. This is surely incorrect. They are asleep on the job as far as I am concerned.
Like many people, Virginia McKenna cannot fathom why people take pleasure in trophy hunting. She asks, “what goes on in the mind of a trophy hunter?”
She queries why they find it acceptable to kill a lion for their pleasure and by dint of their personal wealth thereby depriving the rest of the world from seeing and admiring one of the most precious and iconic animals on the planet.
She also questions how sport hunters can be so proud of activities when they are acting in a cowardly manner when shooting a lion with a high-powered rifle from a range of hundreds of yards or shoot a lion in an enclosure where it cannot escape and killing it is a formality.
The Born Free Foundation was founded by Virginia McKenna 32 years ago with her husband Bill and her eldest son Will. The organisation has fought against what many regard as “progress” but which in fact means more commercial activity, more profit, less habitat for wildlife and the gradual extinction of the lion in Africa.
To finish Virginia makes a very good point and I’ll quote verbatim:
“The bloody desires of a tiny minority must not hold sway over the clearly expressed wishes of the great majority. Trophy hunting must stop and we must start a new chapter in our relationship with the animals we share our planet with.”