by Glenn Kendall
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
Family, friends, colleagues and fellow hunters along the endless Safari trail, these thoughts of mine come from the countless emails, phone calls and texts from many of you looking for my opinion on the heels of the allegedly illegally hunted Lion in Zimbabwe named Cecil.
As I already communicated with a few of you, I did, as you know, speak out in anger about the possibility that a big game hunter would have broken the code of ethics by illegally hunting such a great big game animal like the African Lion. But I guess the liberal media had me jump the gun that first day – shame on me. I’m very passionate about hunting and conservation; maybe it was before my first cup of coffee.
As most of you know, I have been a hunter since my early years. For many many years now I have been fortunate enough to spend time all over the world and in many of the countries in Africa, some of them multiple times. Before I first ventured to the Dark Continent, I learned all about conservation, game management, legal and safe hunting, and of course, the wonderful wildlife that inhabits one of the most beautiful wild landscapes on earth.
I have been in crocodile and hippo infested waters on many occasions, charged multiple times by elephant, so close to Lions and Leopards that I could smell there bad dental habits (HMMMM speaking of dentists?), and hunted more Cape Buffalo than any other species I’ve taken in Africa.
Hunters all gravitate to what they enjoy or are good at — I just have more of a hankering for those with claws, fangs, tusks and horns. I got the fever back in the early 90’s while legally hunting a wild Mountain Lion and was hooked on the dangerous stuff ever since. It has taken me from Wild Alaska for the biggest brown bears on the planet to all over Africa for the hairy scary stuff. All of this, of course, done legally with permits and done the right way. Hard hunting afield is my passion.
As an avid big game hunter I have contributed a lot of money to the less fortunate in these different countries. I have helped to aid the anti-poaching efforts that really only the hunters like me, hunting companies, land owners and some of the game departments do. Where are the anti’s when it’s time to write the checks?
We legally hunt a few to save a lot of these magnificent animals. A short time ago, someone at Safari Club bid to hunt a Rhino and paid $350,000. A big portion of the money would go back into Rhino research and conservation. This old Rhino was on borrowed time and had he died naturally, none of the money would have aided Rhino conservation, research and anti-poaching. The anti’s of course were up in arms about this. They just want to disagree and really don’t care about these animals, in my opinion. Put your money where your mouth is, is what I think. To be quite honest, I think they enjoy all the senseless attention about Cecil.
I have paid for and fed many villages for months on end in Tanzania with Elephant, Buffalo, Hippo and other wild game. All hunted and taken legally with permits.
In Botswana, I donated a bull elephant to a local community after I gladly paid dearly in fees to legally hunt it. They used every single piece of that elephant to feed a whole village for God knows how long, because old bull elephants in Botswana are the size of dump trucks. The guts that were left afield probably fed the likes of scavengers like hyena, jackal and vultures. Nothing wasted.
There is no better feeling than to watch dozens of the villagers show up after you’ve hunted a bull elephant, knowing you are helping them to have food for a while. The smiles that the Africans radiate is like none I have ever seen in my life. I have taken countless photos of the African smiles. Us Americans should take a lesson and try an ear to ear grin once in a while.
For many of you who are not aware, elephants live a very long time. If they die of old age, how do they make it that far? It is painful to say the least, as an elephant’s teeth wear down until they starve to death – which takes a long time in many instances. Starving to death means not only suffering, but then not having the strength to fight off being eaten alive by lions and other carnivore. Living in wild Africa is a struggle of life and death every day and night.
Spend an evening by the camp fire in the wild fields, like I have many times, and you can listen to the horrors of the predators chasing and catching prey. Each time an elephant dies like this, no money is put into conservation and anti-poaching. When a hunter legally takes an old big bull then, it is aiding the wonderful people by supplying them with food, funding the hunting companies, and monies go into local governments, game departments, and help with anti-poaching efforts. I am in no way inferring that all old bull elephants should only be hunted, I am just telling you the reality of what happens in each incident.
This communication is not intended to convince anyone who does not hunt or believe in hunting to agree with me. It’s telling you the truth about what goes on in Africa. I’ve been there and done it, seen it and been a legal part of it for a long time. Much longer than most anchors sitting behind desks at major news stations who misreport information to the public. Most of them don’t know the first thing about how hunting, game management and conservation works. It’s really irresponsible to report these things to folks who will believe right off the bat that ‘Cecil was lured out of the park, killed illegally and poached’ without an investigative outcome.
One of the stories that aired on a major network’s morning show stated that Cecil was killed and illegally poached by a hunter and resulted in his offspring being savagely killed by another male or males. It sounded terrible, scary, and Oh my gosh, what horrible crime, right? Wrong – each time a male lion who governs the pride is either killed, dies or run off by a Lion or Lions, the new male or males do come and kill the offspring. It’s the way nature works with Lions in parks, the wild and everywhere in Africa. Immediately after this, the females go into heat and the new male or males start a new family tree. It’s the life and death cycle of the African lion. Our beloved daily news reporting of course forgot this important part. Did they know and not report it or are they just trying to shed a bad light on hunters? Hmmm, could anchors that get paid millions of dollars a year be this short sighted? Maybe we should ask Brian Williams?
I could go on and on about the information we have heard from the media. I’m glad I’m not being investigated by a one sided Zimbabwe government that makes their own rules coupled with liberal America that jumps on the bandwagon with these guilty-before-innocent conclusions. I’m sure that at some point, the white house will get involved and make yet another stupid uniformed comment. But then again they do that a lot, so it’s just another day in America.
I have hunted Lions through legal means with all the necessary permits through tracking, baiting and by happenstance. I have only chosen to hunt them during daylight hours, and although you can hunt at night in certain countries, it’s just been my personal way of doing it. Up close with double rifles like the old timers in the old days. My experience and knowledge has been through study, research and afield.
In my opinion, luring a Lion out of a park where he has lived most of his adult life who has an abundance of female Lions around him, who do most of the hunting with plentiful game to support the pride, wouldn’t be easy — would it? You wouldn’t bait him with a carcass hanging off a smelly oily hunting vehicle, as reported by the media, would you? I sure wouldn’t, and would not bait anything that was not legal – and certainly not off a vehicle. Why would you leave the comforts of your home, where you can eat a great meal, and instead go for a steak at the local gas station to dine on top of the fuel pumps? Maybe to add oil to the baked potato? 10W40? Get my drift?
How do we not know that Cecil left the park because was he run off by another Lion or lions? Who took over the pride? Remember, a Lion that lives to be 13 years old is on borrowed time. Definitely an elder.
Why in any of the pictures we have seen of Cecil, did we not see a radio collar? And we have seen plenty of them the last few weeks. I’m not saying he wasn’t collared as it’s reported he was, but maybe the hunter did not see it? After all, it was under that big black mane? Just a thought…
Before Cecil was killed, it was reported that he was tracked for 40 hours after he was shot with bow and arrow. If this was the case, then why did he go away from the park where he felt safe? Why didn’t he go back home? When wounded, Lions tend to go to cover and places they feel safe. Why would he run the other way? Did he not want to go back where he wasn’t welcomed anymore? Another theory that may make sense.
What if the dentist and the professional hunter were Lion hunting and Cecil came to their bait site, and as hunters, they saw this great old Lion had a permit and hunted him like they would any Lion? After all, that’s why they were out there – wasn’t it? Maybe they didn’t know this Lion was a famous one with a name like ‘Madonna’ and a celebrity?
When I first went on safari a long time ago, I was new at it. You learn the ropes. I can say when you venture off to the big continent of Africa, you do rely on the travel agents, hunting companies and professional hunters to sort out the necessary legal documentation and permits. This dentist who hunted and killed Cecil – did he rely on such? We don’t really know and could only assume. Maybe not? I don’t know him.
In talking to a dear friend and fellow hunter of many years, he said what we all should be thinking…”let’s wait for the findings of the investigation before we out the dentist of his life and ruin his business and have to deal with senseless death threats that only affect him and his family.” Makes sense, doesn’t it? Remember, this is America – aren’t we innocent until proven guilty? The man’s life is ruined to say the least. I’m the first to say he should have to pay penance, do time or whatever the penalty is, if in fact, he and anyone else involved knowingly illegally poached and killed Cecil.
My wonderful airline Delta, whom I have been dedicated with Platinum Medallion status, has just pulled a knee jerk reaction to an un-investigated story now by choosing not to ship Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino. By this writing is published, I’m sure other airlines will jump on the bandwagon. Really? Let’s just rush to judgement. If the dentist really did illegally kill Cecil, then why punish everyone else for it? Punish him and any others involved and move on.
I have a well-respected friend who is a Professional hunter, he and his family own land in Africa. They have a great reputation as land owners, farmers and hunters. I have hunted with them fair chase, by the books, legal permits and all the proper documented paperwork needed afield. He knows the Professional hunter involved and has said all his dealings with him have all been of the upmost and that he has great character, reputation and does things the right way. I personally do not know him. Maybe he got greedy and decided $50,000 was the time to become a bad apple? Could be. A bank robber always has his first bank heist, right? Let’s let due process run its course. He, too, may have his life ruined before a final verdict. It wasn’t too long ago that a story came out that the prisons in Zimbabwe were the worst in the world and practically unlivable. He is in there now, along with the land owner.
We are at a time in America where Cecil the Lion headlines over the fact that Baltimore Maryland’s rising murder rate is at an all-time high (not far from where I grew up) and the selling of baby parts, data breeches and personal invasion are at an all-time high. They report this before National and International financial concerns and us hard working Americans need to know? Really?Yes, it’s so. This morning one of our nice liberal major network morning shows had this as the very first story. Yes, before anything else.
My beautiful wife and I used to wake up in the mornings and play with our wonderful children and catch the news while drinking coffee and being all American. As many of you would agree, those were some of the greatest of times. Now, with the misinformation and horrible news telecasts, we have resorted to HDTV as we know the Cecil the Lion won’t pop out, plus no more headlines of murders and mayhem in Chicago, or how all policemen are bad everywhere, and of course all the shenanigans of the political mess in America.
This isn’t about Cecil the Lion, it’s more about where our priorities and interests have gone as Americans. I don’t even want to go to the question, what about Zimbabwe and poor Cecil? I have only one thing to say…Mugabe.
Son, Brother, Husband, Father and Still on the Endless Pursuit of the Safari Trail