Can we really dare hope that the end of the canned lion hunting industry is imminent ? Oh I hope so. It is beyond understanding how this horrible industry still exists in an age where lions are at such risk. Even harder to understand is how trophy hunters can kill a magnificent animal they know has been bred for their sick gratification. What is wrong with these glory seeking people ? This industry needs to be shut down now no question. If only these psychopaths with guns could spend their money on the preservation of lions, do something constructive towards the natural world, instead of destroying it. If lions flourish tourists continue to go to Africa where their money goes into the economy so that everyone benefits. No lions eventually means no tourist income, then what will Africa rely on to survive I wonder.
That wildlife trafficking is now one of the biggest illegal activities involving a major crimminal organisations should be no surprise to anyone. To see an airline emblazon their Emirates A380 In Support of Wildlife with images of endangered threatened and poached animals is a giant step in the right direction as far as creating awareness and I applaud it. Over 1000 wildlife rangers have been killed in Africa trying to protect animals which in itself is shocking but just as shocking are the sheer numbers of wildlife taken. Perhaps as many as 30,000 elephants are taken for their ivory every year, maybe more, thousands of rhino and the list of animals threatened just seems to grow. To me it is a global catastrophe that must be stopped by any means.
Too many humans not enough resources. It's obvious that human population is the cause of some of the most devastating ecological problems facing the planet. I completely agree with Sir David Attenborough when he says that humans are a plague on the earth. This fact is proving unsustainable as the human species takes more and more for ourselves in some seemingly ignorant belief that the earth can keep giving. Burning rain forests to make way for palm oil, the unprecedented killing of wildlife such as elephants, long line fishing that leaves fish species depleted, many fragile environments and animals facing uncertain futures and it's all down to us. We are destroying our own environment in the process and in turn ourselves but we have a choice. The earth can't continue to support so many of us and David Attenborough suggests that our growth has to be limited, human population controlled. Interesting that this comes after China has lifted it's policy of one child per family. How many millions and millions of them are there already ? For the sake of the future of all species including our own something does have to done to limit population growth.
As with many other animals that live in the frosty parts of the world snow leopards also face an uncertain future as climate change has a big impact on their habitat. Living among the lower slopes of the Himalayas and rugged mountains of Afghanistan Kazakhstan and Mongolia this incredibly beautiful cat faces many threats associated with human encroachment. Sharing the same habitat and competing for food with humans brings inevitable conflict. Sadly as natural prey species diminish for the snow leopard the more the hungry cats predate domestic livestock which attracts the wrath of farmers. Not only are snow leopards killed for killing livestock many are poached for the illegal wildlife trade. Educating farmers to protect their livestock and compensating them for their losses is one thing that can be done to save snow leopards but as the world heats up many species are impacted on which includes the prey species snow leopards depend on.
It's not hard to understand why big cats would go after domestic animals. When prey is scarce. Those who live in areas of big cats habitat have to get smarter about protecting their livestock and start looking after the prey animals. Big cats prefer their natural prey and avoid conflict with humans if they can but they have to eat just like us. If conflict between humans and predators is avoided less big cats will die as a result of retaliatory actions by angry farmers. Surely education of farmers in remote wild regions can only help save big cats that are only doing what big cats do. Prey species are a vital key in the preservation of the wonderful predators that are all facing uncertain futures as global human populations explode and push evermore into remote areas that were once wild.
'Blood Reign' acrylic and mixed media
on canvas 90cm x 90cm
This portrait of a male African lion was inspired in part by the utterly senseless death of Cecil. He was a 13 year old lion hunted down and killed by an American trophy hunter several months ago causing international outrage. At 13 he would have been without doubt a very powerful lion to have survived to that age given the brutal nature of a males life. Forming coalitions of two or more these mighty big cats dominate the African landscape and are synonymous with Africa. Populations of lions have dropped from around 450,000 to the present day 21,000 in less than 50 years due to human encroachment, trapping, trophy hunting and habitat loss. Lions are in trouble and at serious risk of extinction by 2020 unless something is done to stop the persecution of these magnificent animals. Africa without lions just wouldn't be Africa.
It seems no animal in Africa is sacred and all are targets of the of the trophy hunter. Leopards are under a grave threat too. Fortunately the leopard is perhaps a little less visible and more elusive by nature which may help them escape the sights of callous hunters intent on bagging themselves a prize to boast about. What is there to boast about I wonder when you consider the hunter is armed with high caliber weapons and assisted by native trackers to find the unfortunate animals. My personal favourite African animal is the leopard for it's incredible adaptability, a sinuous and beautiful big cat that just melds into the bush almost as if it wasn't there. It makes me angry and sad to think these wonders of nature are hunted down like vermin by rich people with more money than conscience and an utter disrespect for the natural world.