It's not just the trackers in Africa putting their lives on the line in the war on poaching. Some of the unsung heroes of this war are the dogs that work beside the trackers risking their lives every day to save rhinos from the brink of extinction. That rhino horn is now considered more valuable than gold shows what a desperate battle it is. The dogs along with their handlers deserve every accolade for their determined pursuit of ruthless poachers who will not hesitate to kill anyone who gets in their way.
African lions are officially endangered. Finally lions have been recognised and classified as endangered. How will this new status affect hunting rights I wonder ? It seems that in other parts of the world the status of endangered does not guarantee safety from persecution, exploitation and the curse of the hunters bullet. Status alone is not enough, laws have to be changed to protect these animals, laws that are upheld and enforced. Sadly in many parts of Africa the law fails these animals and those who commit a crime against a protected animal often go unpunished. The wheels of change turn too slowly for so many of the world shrinking wildlife but some change is better than none. The Obama administration has decided to place lions in Africa under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, an action that will make it more difficult for hunters to bring their ill gotten trophies home but not make it impossible which is what most wildlife lovers would really like to hear. Only a total ban seems good enough and it's up to other countries in the world to also join this effort that ultimately creates a picture of hunters as just a blood thirsty lot of psychos killing animals because they can.
Some good news emerging from the debate about trophy hunting. While I researched for my snow leopard painting I became aware that trophy hunters are everywhere in the wild stalking not just lions but prey animals that a lot of big cats are entirely reliant on for their survival. This includes ibex and wild sheep species hunted for their incredible antlers and horns in the regions of Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan. These animals are a crucial food source for the endangered snow leopard.
Asian medicine here in Australia has been found to contain DNA of critically endangered snow leopards. It makes me wonder what safeguards are in place to screen Asian product being imported to Australia. We really need to step up and contribute to eliminating any product containing at risk animals.
Asian medicines are one of the biggest reasons so many big cats are slaughtered unnecessarily and something must be done before they are gone. The cultural beliefs behind this grisly trade are ancient and extremely hard to change but here in Australia we surely have a responsibility to do whatever we can to reduce the availability of these medicines. Without stricter guidelines about imports we are supporting the ongoing slaughter of magnificent animals that no research into the effectiveness of these medicines has ever proven works. The body parts of these endangered animals belong in only one place and that is on the animal.