Wednesday, August 17, 2005


There’s a photograph of Ernest Hemingway on the cover of a book called Hemingway on Hunting. It’s an iconic image, the young Hemingway crouches, smiling over a magnificent dead lion, the very essence of manhood, the Great White Hunter, who sets out into the wild and pits his strength and courage against nature’s most ferocious creatures. It’s a romantic image that endures to this day, but it no longer exists except to support a huge industry of safari tour operators, private game lodges, taxidermists, professional hunters, breeders, import/export agencies and hunting clubs such as Safari Club International, dedicated to ensuring a steady stream of exotically shaped bodies. Hemingway is dead. His place is taken by Mark Scott Crossley, the man convicted of feeding one of his workers to the lions on his farm. Scott Crossley was photographed in the back of a police car during his trail, cigarette in mouth, holding up a two-fingered salute to the press. He does not look the slightest bit ashamed for using a human being as meat, he’s a breeder, everything's meat.

It’s an important case for South Africa’s animals because the long overdue enquiry into regulating the hunting industry began in Pretoria this week. It aims to examine all the issues surrounding hunting, canned safaris, place and take (confining an animal in a small space), hunting from the back of vehicles, wild animal mass breeding, and the practice called eco or green hunting, which involves shooting an animal with a dart and reviving it as many times as the animal can stand before it becomes psychotic.

There’s a perception that since the Cook Report on canned hunting was broadcast, the practice has been banned. Not so says the M&G.

The rot in the hunting industry begins with the breeders, who churn out wild animals like so many dachshund puppies, novelty animals such as lions with black manes for their beauty and the price they fetch as trophies. Scott Crossley’s enterprise bred white lions, which carry a premium in the hunting trade. All told there are 2,500 lions being raised in the Free State, Limpopo and North West province and exotic specimens such as puma and jaguar are imported and captive bred to be shot, stuffed and shipped.

Scott Crossley has been on his best behaviour this week as the judge considers evidence in mitigation of his sentence, he has offered “blood money” to the family of the dead man in an attempt to avoid being tossed to the lions himself. There’s a chilling connection between Scott Crossley and Gert van Rooyen, the pedophile who committed suicide with his lover Joey Haarhoff when cornered by the police after the disappearance of six young girls in 1988 and 89. His sister Tracey Lee was one of the young girls, their bodies have never been found.

I’m just thinking …

No comments: