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The brutal exploitation of lions

ALLOW me to exercise one of my goldplated constitutional freedoms, the one to disagree with popular opinions.

Are we sitting.comfortably? No sharp objects in reach? Good. I think, no, not just think, I strongly believe that the Olympics would be a better spectacle for the tv audience if all the drug rules were abandoned.

Instead, let the performers because that is what they really are consume whatever it takes to jump higher, run faster, or chuck pointy javelins further. I concede that this requires a bit of ethical recalibration.

But what the hell, we’re South Africans aren’t we? The first bit involves the long overdue abandonment of classifying professional sports.competitors as role models for society.

This is a total waste of time. Professional sport by the mere fact of being income generating, walked or ran or hopped or jumped or crawled away from classical role modelling behaviour a long time ago.

Instead, as the `Zika Olympics’ (Rio) so clearly reveal, professional sport is a colourful spectacle of physical achievement, except for the Russians who have always seen it as the practice of warfare by other means.

So let them dope, let them get stoned, let them take whatever genital shrinking steriods they wish. And while all this is going on not just in secret but in the full view of the adoring masses, let the rest of society give some serious thought to what a moral role model might really look like.

It may help them of course, to watch Blood Lions, a recently broadcast revelatory documetary (Discovery HD) about the lion breeding business in SA.

This has two extremely broad and divergent branches: conservation of live lions and profit extraction from dead ones.

The dead lion business recognises that lions are not in short supply and due to their fecundity lend themselves to a version of battery farming.

The products of this massive overbreeding programme become available for various types of big game hunting plus the flooding of the Asian traditional medicine market with a cheap substitute for tiger bones.

Most of these activities are legal, despite outcries from a wide range of disgusted human beings on one hand, and selfelected crusaders on the other. May I.comment at this point that both sides like to wear khaki and in some cases, camo.

So what did we learn from this movie? First, that newborn cubs are taken early from their mothers since this triggers the next estrous cycle and the battery chicken rapid breeding process can accelerate.

Biologists interviewed stated that this was to the detriment of both the cubs and the breeding females.

Next, the kind of excessively rich First World “hunters” who buy these lionkilling services, are sometimes such poor shots that they need careful tutoring on the use of their high powered rifles.

Third, there seems to be a sideline business in “animal welfare tourism.” Billed as “educational” young adults from abroad pay large fees to stay on lion producing battery farms where they “nurture” and sometimes “adopt” lion cubs. These cubs when they grow up are likely to be used in “hunting” and of course, the lion bone export trade.

So, all in all, not good stuff but mostly legal in the sphinctertightening sense of marginal or absent regulation. And this of course, is the big payoff for Blood Lions in that the movie raises serious moral issues for the viewer.