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Thursday, Dec. 20, 2001 at 11:47 AM
Like Father, like son. The Bush legacy is all about a cowboy mentality more approprite for the 19th Century.
If you've ever wondered where the present occupant of the White House got his cornball macho cowboy personna from (other than from his acting coach), look no further than his gene pool. A somewhat bizarre, though hardly surprising story receiving little notice in the US media this past spring, concerned Dubya's dad, former President George Bush, Sr. and General "Stormin' Norman" Schwarzkopf pressuring the government of Botswana to lift their ban on lion hunting. Apparently, these "real men", the two perpetrators of the Gulf War, along with former Veep Dan Quail and members of Safari Club International (SCI), are hot to get some trophy heads for their walnut paneled dens before the supply runs out. Indeed, the African lion is in serious trouble. Experts estimate that the number of lions in Botswana has dwindled by two-thirds in 10 years. This sorry situation also applies to the continent as a whole. According to the Guardian story, "there is broad consensus among conservationists and governments that the population in Africa has fallen from about 50,000 to less than 15,000 over the past decade. The surviving lions are largely confined to four viable populations in southern and east Africa."
It's said that old habitits die hard, but with numbers falling like that one might think that big game hunters who are quick to take on the mantle of "conservation" might have second thoughts about taking out the King of the Jungle. Not so. Big manly egos call for big trophies. With these retro great white hunters and their Victorian dreams of self-granduer, its damn the species viability.
Interestingly, and adding to the surreal nature of such endeavors here in the 21st Century, the lion population had been so decimated and mismanaged previously in Botswana that American safari hunters were allowed to take close to 50 prime alpha males with full manes each year. The shortage is now so bad accross the African continent that North American hunters have resorted to a mane-extension service back in the US where fake hair is weaved in to the lions mane to give the trophies their ...er..appropriate? appearance. Fake hair is, however, entirely appropriate for fake big game hunters. Canned hunts are not limited to here in the States. It's reported that on some African game reserves tourists can be shooting pictures of lions and other animals in one locale, while a few miles off hunt-tourits are being led by the nose to their targets. How terribly sporting, what?
Of course, we expect people like the Presidents Bush and Stormin' Norman (not to mention minions like Dan Quail) to do really dumb and harmful things like this. It's, dare i say, their nature? But when organizations of hunters like SCI , touting the "sustainable use of wildlife", knowingly seek to undermine the few existing protections for a rapidly disappearing keystone species (and in this case one of unparallelled renown), they prove themselves to be little better than the lowest of poachers, enemies of the planet.
Readers may wish to visit SCI's website: http://www.safariclub.org (WARNING - have a cyber-sickness bag close at hand) to see firsthand the degree of this groups' disingenuousness. As an example, here's an excerpt from SCI's notice on the ban:
"The Botswana government has announced the suspension of lion hunting in that country while they review the status of lions. SCI is in contact with the Wildlife Managers
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