By: Amanda Froelich,
It was in the unique landscape of South Africa self-proclaimed “hardcore huntress”, Melissa Bachman, shot and killed a lion from the Maroi Conservatory. Proud of her kill, the American television presenter – who boasts of her animal kills and is a producer for the American outdoors – was not expecting the backlash of opposition the hunt created.
After posting a photograph on Facebok and Twitter of her holding a rifle and smiling beside the corpse of a male lion, outrage from viewers ensued. Her comment of the hunt, “Incredible day in South Africa. Stalked inside 60 yards on this beautiful lion – what a hunt!” received heated criticism and led her to deactivate both accounts only hours after posting.
Her actions also prompted an online petition asking the South African government to ban her from returning. Elan Burman, the author of the petition and resident of Capetown, commented “She is an absolute contradiction to the culture of conservation this country prides itself on.”
With over 3,000 signatures quickly gathered, news of the sickening act spread like wildlife across the world, igniting a barrage of criticism.
“You, lady, are what is wrong with the world,” wrote Richard Robinson of Maryland. “Take with no consequences. Shoot, kill, consume, [and] destroy. You didn’t kill a lion, you stood behind a machine and pulled a little trigger, you pathetic, sad, excuse of a human.”
It seems apparent the tolerance for “sport hunting” is waning, with many ready to speak their mind on the topic.
While the African Red Lion is rated “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, it is not recognized as an endangered species. Therefore, hunting them is still legal in a number of countries, including South Africa.
The organization spoke out, saying “The main threats to lions are indiscriminate killing.”
By posting the photo, Bauchman was keeping with the theme of her past activities. Other pictures of her hunts showcase her posing beside dead alligators, turkeys, moose, geese, and bears, among other quarry. Hot attacks received from such unabashed sport hunting ended up affecting her work opportunities, as well.
After a petition with over 13,000 signatures was submitted to National Geographic protesting the inclusion of a “heartless trophy hunter”, Melissa was axed from the new program Ultimate Survival Alaska last year. Reportedly, Bauchman could not be contacted for comment.
Hunting lions is a controversial issue for a reason: According to recent research from Duke University, there are as few as 32,000 lions left in the wild, making it an especially important issue for Africa.
Supporters in favor of the practice say it brings in money to communities and can help to reduce illegal poaching. Critics, however, cite that it is a cruel practice that brings in little to no revenue to local people.
Protection of lions is growing throughout Africa. Just last year Botswana banned all commercial hunting of wild animals, and Zambia outlawed hunting of lions and leopards from January.
The country’s Tourism and Art’s Minister, Sylvia Masebo, summarized her take on the situation: “Tourists come to Zambia to see the lion, and if we lose the lion we will be killing our tourism industry.”
Similar to environmental issues also recently brought to attention (We have Found and Killed the World’s Oldest Creature ), restricting the hunting of lions may be an integral act to sustain lower populations of wildlife and protect the balance of the ecosystem.