On Wednesday, a professional hunter in Zimbabwe was crushed to death by an elephant he was tracking. The reports have appeared on news sites, and have been widely shared on social media sites, mostly by people who are anti-hunting.
The hunter’s name is Ian Gibson, and he worked for a company called Chifuti Safaris in Zimbabwe. According to news reports, he was with a client tracking an elephant, and had gone ahead with his tracker while the client took a break. When they drew close to him, the young bull elephant, who was at a point in the mating cycle when males are known to be aggressive, charged them, and crushed Ian Gibson to death.
I can’t begin to imagine the horror of it, not just for the victim of the attack, but for the witnesses. Reports said the tracker and client were too traumatised to comment.
The response from animal rights activists and other individuals who support animal welfare has been predictably unsympathetic. I’ve read many of the comments, and there’s clearly no love lost for this man that most people never knew.
He deserved it.
One down, many more to go.
Really? Is that honestly all you have to say?
Hunting animals for sport makes me as angry as anyone else. It isn’t sport. If it was sport, each side would have the same equal chance. If it was sport, each side would choose to participate. The animals involved in this practice are merely victims of humanity’s lust for blood.
But to say a man deserved to die?
I don’t question, for one moment, my certainty that what he was doing was wrong. My personal moral code says he should not have been there. He should not have been hunting that elephant. He should not have been seeking the death of an innocent creature. And he certainly shouldn’t have been taking money to help someone else do it.
But he didn’t deserve to die.
Like all the elephants, lions, bears, and countless other creatures that have died as a result of the barbaric sport of hunting for pleasure, Ian Gibson was a victim. He was a victim of humanity’s desire to see ourselves as better, stronger and cleverer than every other species on the planet. From the dawn of modern history, we have sought to dominate and control other creatures. If we can’t control, we kill. The so-called sport of trophy hunting is merely a symptom of our fucked up collective psyche.
It’s easy to hate the hunters. It absolves us of responsibility for the death and destruction, for the mass extinctions, for the loss of diversity, for the undermining of the delicate balance of nature. We have someone to blame, a guilty party to help us make sense of the senseless. It makes us feel better. It tells us we are not at fault.
Take a look in the mirror – the bathroom mirror would be great. While you’re there, look in the bathroom cabinet and read some labels. See the cruel and needless animal testing, the destruction of the rainforests and other natural habitats, the death and suffering to millions of species.
Look around your home, at the items that may have travelled thousands of miles to reach you. Do you know how they were manufactured? Do you know it was without suffering to animals or humans? Do you take the time to even think about it?
Look in your wardrobe, in your cleaning cupboards, in your food cupboards, in your garage …
And then ask yourself the question:
“Am I truly innocent?”
Or is being a passive participant in death and suffering just as bad as being the one who pulls the trigger?