Isn't it about time we all had a good hard look at trophy hunting and decide it's just a barbaric activity for a bunch of wealthy psychopaths. How can there possibly be any good reason to go out and hunt down an animal just for pleasure. There can be no reason. The particularly weak arguments that trophy hunters actually aid in conservation is a great lie created to support an industry that makes money out of the suffering of animals. We live in a world where some of the most iconic and majestic animals are fighting for their existence. A world that has seen lion numbers plummet from hundreds of thousands that roamed all across Africa just a hundred years ago. Now their populations are fragmented and scattered with the count at around 20,000 - 30,000 lions trying to survive as man encroaches further into their habitat, as rich foreigners fly in to target and trophy hunt big male lions for fun. How can this continue when it's so obvious it's completely unsustainable and just plain wrong. Why is trophy hunting tolerated at all ? It's a crime against nature.
My latest painting is also the most difficult to date. Titled 'Enigma' which to me sums up the African leopard. I have a particular fondness for leopards, the mystery and elusiveness and incredible beauty of this stealthy animal just fascinates me. The complex patterning of their stunning coat which allows them to blend into their surroundings is also one of the hardest to get right in a painting. This big cat is also at risk, vulnerable to poaching from humankind for it's beautiful skin which throughout modern history has been prized as a fashion symbol of exotic beauty. African tribes such as the Zulu have always adorned themselves in leopard skin as a status symbol and for ceremonial dress. Solitary except when they need to reproduce the leopard is a supreme and adaptable hunter capable of bringing down prey much larger than themselves then hauling the kill up a tree out of reach of scavengers such as hyena.
One of my great ambitions is to go on safari in Africa, to see some of the most iconic animals on earth roaming free living as they should. Of course photographing my experience would be top of the list but there can be no guarantees a visitor will see what they expect, but you could just see what you don't expect too. I know from the many times I've tried to capture the best photos of my pets that patience is the key, that animals will always be animals with no idea of cooperating for the photographer. I've learnt that waiting and watching, observing their behaviour can help you anticipate what they might do next. I understand that you have to have respect and don't interfere with animals in an attempt to get them to pose for the camera because it usually doesn't work. Then there are times when you should just put down the camera and take in what unfolds before you, enjoy the experience without worrying about taking pictures. I've learnt is that It's easy to miss the experience when you are always behind a camera snapping away, that sometimes it pays to just put it down and be in the moment.