Tag: Hunters

Throw them to the lions

I was woken by church bells last Thursday morning. The sky was a brilliant shade of blue and the birds seemed happier than usual. I could hear the sound of children laughing. It felt as if I were living in a village in Palermo and the Godfather, a ruthless man disliked by all, had died during the night.

Post-celebratory hangover notwithstanding, waking up to a South Africa without Jacob Zuma was intoxicating. Then, later in the day when Cyril Ramapahosa was sworn in as president, the sense of a fresh beginning was overwhelming. It was like the birth of a new nation. I got a glimpse of how lapsed Christians must feel when they return to the fold after running out of money for drugs. We are born-again South Africans. Halleluja.

Even the Hawks have discovered, to their surprise, that they were capable of removing their blinders all along. Their wings have grown stiff over the years but it seems they still remember how to fly.

Zuma was pushed onto his sword, an unusual way for any president to leave office. Then again, he was hardly a conventional president. For a start he showed no obvious interest in politics, which is rare for a politician. We know what made the man happy. Sex, money and overseas travel. The same goes for all of us, I suppose, but we’re not in charge of running a country. Most of us couldn’t have done any worse than Zuma, quite frankly.

I believe him when he says he doesn’t know what he’s done wrong. The ANC won’t tell him and nor will they tell us. The ex-president’s pet poison dwarf, Jessie Duarte, told journalists during her post-resignation hagiographic eulogy that she wasn’t going to give reasons for his recall because the media is “not known for being sensitive” and for caring about the feelings of people and their families. I laughed so hard that beer spurted from my nose.

The fact that Zuma is genuinely puzzled about his recall was evident when he chose to go on live television and complain to an SABC reporter about his unfair treatment. He seriously believed that he could win support by whining to the nation. That’s us, by the way. The people who have wanted him gone for far longer than his own party has. He was appealing to the most hostile audience imaginable, which supports my theory that he honestly believes he is loved by everyone apart from a handful of dissidents led by Cyril Ramaphosa.

There has been so much lyin’ going on lately that at some point my attention turned to lions, who hardly ever lie. They pretend a fair bit, though. Nothing to see here, Miss Springbok. I’m not a lion, I’m a termite mound. Zuma, on the other hand, has been pretending to be a lion and it turns out that he was a termite mound all along. Full of venal, corrupt termites, some of which managed to gnaw their way into the cabinet. This is why it’s full of dead wood today.

We all know about termites like Bathabile Dlamini, Malusi Gigaba, Faith Muthambi, Lynne Brown, Mosebenzi Zwane, the list goes on, and it’s only right that the cabinet be fumigated to rid us of their insatiable ilk. But there are others who aren’t necessarily chewing their way through the fabric of our body politic. These ones are just as dangerous. They are, simply put, not very bright. I suspect this was part of Zuma’s strategy. Deploy the sluggish termites to slow bureaucracy down not so much that the economy grinds to a halt, but just enough to allow the industrious termites to latch on to the money streams and start the pilfering process.

To be honest, I don’t know if they work in concert. There are many perfect examples of the Dunning-Kruger Effect in almost every government department, but it could be that these deployees aren’t necessarily corrupt. They’re just morons. One of these happens to be our environmental affairs minister. Don’t feel bad if you don’t know her name. It’s only because she’s not overtly a part of the state capture brigade. She’s one of the other termites. Edna Molewa is there to think slowly, act slowly and take decisions based on how she’s feeling that day.

She’s keen on selling our rhino horn stockpile, has granted emissions compliance exemptions to dozens of companies, including Eskom, and, in her previous portfolio, blamed wet coal for the electricity blackouts which, as we now know, was caused by the Guptas. My fear is that in Cyril’s rush to get rid of the rapacious termites, he will overlook bumbling imbeciles like Edna.

In terms of importance, the government ranks environmental affairs down there with sport and recreation. Edna seems to think it’s lame to protect stuff like animals and the climate. Take lions, for instance. I’ve never met Edna but from what I have read it seems unlikely she’s a cat person.

Members of the Arizona-based Safari Club International and Dallas Safari Club are also not cat people. They are not even animal people, unless by animal people you mean people who pay money to murder animals just for the hell of it. And yet both organisations recently condemned the hunting of captive-bred lions, something they had no problem with for years. I don’t know why the sudden change of attitude. A lot of states are legalising weed these days. Maybe they were high.

The SCI banned the marketing of canned lion hunts through the organisation and notified its hunters and clients that trophies from captive-bred lion hunts would be ineligible for the club’s macabre Record Book which lists members who have killed the biggest/smallest/most species.

The equally bloodthirsty Dallas Safari Club said there was no evidence that captive-bred lion hunting contributed to the conservation of wild lions. So there it is. Even Donald Trump’s people think it’s wrong. Not our Edna, though.

“A barbaric and morally repugnant relic of colonialism that is out of step with 21st century forward thinking.” No, former Australian minister Greg Hunt wasn’t describing Helen Zille. He was talking about canned lion hunting.

Confronted with a global backlash against the practice of domesticating lions, then shooting them in the face when they come up to you for a cuddle, our Edna gave it some thought. Her mouth fell open and her eyes rolled into the back of her head. A passing tick bird landed on her nose and gave her teeth a quick clean. Her think over, she decided that all lions were fair game and it didn’t really matter that their bones were being sold to criminal networks in Asia.

Responding to questions from Durban-based journalist Simon Bloch, Edna’s spokesman Albi Modise said the department had no intention of stopping hunters from shooting tame lions at close range.

“In light of the fact that South Africa has legislative protection in place for endangered and threatened species and subscribes to the principles of sustainable utilisation of natural resources, there is no reason to prohibit the breeding of lions in captivity for hunting purposes,” he said.

And while our caged lions might be safe from American hunters, there’s a whole new bunch of good old boys with big guns and tiny willies waiting in the wings. They’re going to be coming from Russia, China and Eastern Europe. At least the Americans were only doing it so they could hang a head on their wall. These guys are going to want to eat their kill. Wash it down with a Lion lager.

The Free State is a haven for the captive breeding of lions. Ace Magashule’s province. What a surprise. It was a vile province during apartheid and it’s not much better now. I think KwaZulu-Natal should invade and annex it without delay.

I also think the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa and the SA Predator Association should try to be less neanderthal about the issue. Be less blinded by greed and more open to conservation.

Now that we seem to have found our moral compass after nine lost years, perhaps President Ramaphosa could use it to help civil servants like Edna Molewa find their way out.



Getting the fox to guard the hen house

The Trump campaign has pledged to nominate a hunter to lead the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, aggressively fight lawsuits by anti-hunting groups and control predators like wolves.

Guess who is top of the list. That’s right. None other than Donald Junior. Here’s a letter I wrote to Trump’s delightful boys not too long ago.

Hey boys!

Just wanted to congratulate you on your successful hunting trip to Zimbabwe. Our papers have been full of pictures of you guys holding up dead leopards in a pink mist of vapourised waterbuck. You’re real heroes in these parts, let me tell you. There has been a bit of criticism, but it’s coming mainly from white bunny-hugging do-gooders who think wild animals are there to be photographed instead of destroyed like the vermin they are.

Bloody liberals.

I see you managed to bag three of the Big Five. Well done! But what stopped you from going for a full house? You got the buffalo, elephant and leopard, but missed the rhino and lion. And you call yourselves Trumps? Just kidding. I’m sure it’s not your fault. I bet the organisers of the hunt failed to tether them securely and they escaped before you could drive up and shoot them in the face.

Donald Junior, I particularly enjoyed the picture of you holding an elephant’s tail in one hand and a knife in the other. You can even see the legs of the elephant lying on the ground to prove that you got it off the animal and not from a curio shop. I bet you also cut off its trunk and poked it through your zipper and pretended you had a giant willy. I certainly would have.

I liked the shot of you guys posing next to a crocodile strung up from a tree. It reminded me of those old pictures from your Deep South. Now that the darkies are off-limits, croc-lynching could be the next big thing in Alabama. Wanna be partners? You gun ’em down, I string ’em up.

By the way, did you know that we also have a Small Five that are tremendous fun to kill? Meerkats are my best. If you’re quick, you can run up and kick them before they bolt for cover. Your brother, Eric, could have waited in an imaginary end zone to catch the flying ‘kat. Touchdown! American football, Africa style. What’s not to love?

Another of my favourites is the tortoise. Hunting tortoises is usually done when you have a hangover. I’m sure you had lots of those on your trip because the only way to survive in Africa is to drink heavily while firing blindly into the night.

So what you do is set up your chair within shouting distance of a reliable servant – you don’t want to run out of Bloody Marys – and wait for a tortoise to come along. Put your foot on his back to stop him from getting away. This is where it gets tricky. He will have retracted himself, making a clean head shot impossible. Don’t shoot him in the shell if you plan on using him as a paper-weight. They shatter easily. Rather take a leaf out of your father’s book. Cut off his lights and water and starve him out.

You said the local villagers were overjoyed at getting the meat from your hunt. And why wouldn’t they be? Leopard carpaccio garnished with a sprinkling of civet cat and drizzled with crocodile jus doesn’t appear on the menu in the Matetsi area all that often.

When I read that the hunt organisers were called Hunting Legends, I thought they were offering legends like President Robert Mugabe. Now there’s a trophy you should have on your wall. But I suppose he would put up too much of a fight. Not that you lads aren’t bok for a fight. Far from it. A kudu is a hell of an adversary. You were just fortunate to come across one that was drugged. To be honest, a lot of the game in southern Africa is on drugs these days. They also lack any real work ethic and spend most of the day sleeping. Smelly freeloaders. No wonder we kill them.

You were also lucky to have survived shooting a tusker. Many elephants, particularly in Zimbabwe, are known to explode without warning and, even from a distance of 300 metres, you could easily have lost a leg. Or worse, had your hair messed up. Gel is hard to come by in the bush.

I’m not much of a hunter myself, but I think I know why you boys enjoy it. For a start, Eric is a girl’s name and he has a lot to prove. And your name is Donald Junior, and yet it is Eric who looks more like your father. No wonder you’re angry.

You said the money you paid for the hunt will be used to fund nature conservation in Zimbabwe. I presume by “fund nature conservation” you mean “arm Zanu-PF veterans”. That’s okay. We understand code in these parts. No names, no pack-drill. Whatever the hell that means.

My wife says you’re both latent homosexuals. But as my Uncle Pervy used to say, “Better latent than never.” Anyway, you’ll be happy to know that I beat her soundly for her insolence.

I must say, though, Eric, you do look pretty damn sexy with that leopard draped over your shoulders. It brings out your eyes. And Donald Junior, seeing you straddling that dead buffalo makes doggie style seem positively Christian.

Y’all come back again, ya hear!


Another bunch of big hunts

We’re coming to that time of year when everyone should spare a thought for the animals.

With the holidays approaching, the roads will soon be jammed with people rushing to their destinations. Many of you will be too busy to think about which animals you’re going to eat and how you intend cooking them. Should you boil, bake, braai, grill, steam or fry? There are no easy answers.

Meanwhile, a group met at a Polokwane resort last week to think deeply about animals. You might not have read much about it. That’s because journalists were thin on the ground at the 14th African Wildlife Consultative Conference. And not, as you might think, because there was no open bar. They simply weren’t allowed in.

The conference, organised by our very own department of environmental affairs, is the creation of something called Safari Club International, an American outfit made up of hunters. Their main mission is to safeguard the freedom to hunt. They are like the National Rifle Association except they demand the right to shoot bears in the arms or wherever the hell they wish. They are also very proud of their anti-poaching stance. They would be, though. Too much poaching and there’d be nothing left for their own members to kill.

Their headquarters are in Tucson, Arizona, a proudly jingoistic state full of heavily armed rednecks and wife-beaters. In other words, the perfect base for Safari Club International.

So what we’re doing, essentially, is putting the welfare of our wildlife in the hands of hunters. A senior SCI member even helped the department moderate the sessions. This is a bit like the head of a paedophile ring offering child care facilities at his office.

SCI, incidentally, was founded by the bravest man on four wheels. At great personal risk to himself, CJ McElroy spent many years killing thousands of animals around the world, often at distances of only two or three hundred metres.


But it’s not just animals SCI is interested in. They also care about people. For instance, a splinter group called Sportsmen Against Hunger distributes the meat from their kills to food banks through the network of SCI chapters.

“Oh, man. Armadillo again? We had armadillo yesterday.”

“Shut up and eat your meat. You goddamn Vietnam vets are spoilt rotten.”

“Yeah, rotten like this …”


“Hey, man. You killed Kenny.”

Then there’s the Sensory Safari programme that allows sight-impaired people to get a “visual” perspective of what animals are like by feeling their skins, skulls, horns and pretty much anything with a head big enough to be cut off and stuck on a wall. At some point, they are going to get turned on by all that fondling and will want to go out and kill something of their own. Blind hunters. Now that’s my idea of sport.

There’s also the Disabled Hunter programme where cripples get to kill stuff. And why not? Just because you’re missing a leg or arm or eye after someone shot you in Afghanistan or the local supermarket doesn’t mean you can’t do the same to something else. I bet even Steven Hawking would sign up if he could shoot a wildebeest with a twitch of his eye.

But wait. It gets better. The SafariWish programme is designed to give children with life-threatening illnesses a chance to go hunting. Because what kid dying of leukemia wouldn’t want to blow an antelope’s brains out before he died?

As far as I can make out there are no special hunting programmes for black, lesbian dwarves. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time, though.

When your government organises a wildlife conference and invites hunters but excludes the media, environmentalists, conservationists and non-governmental organisations, you start to sense something might not be quite right.

Oh, well. There’s so much of not-quite-right in this country that it’s just going to have to get in the queue of stuff we really should do something about. Well, not us, obviously. But someone needs to do something about whatever. I’ll get another beer.


KILLER: Ben Trovato bagged himself a fine trophy at the recent Safari Club International meeting for hunters.