The curious urge to kill rare animals

Posted on 2019-07-22 08:15:42

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An article by Shirley Bell

I came across an old cutting about a white stag that had been glimpsed in Scotland several years ago. This was an exceedingly rare animal, perhaps even unique, and people were curious and excited. So were hunters, mainly from America. Requests poured in for permission to shoot this beautiful animal. The response in Scotland was to move the stag to a remote mountainous area, one hopes not where it would have been alone.

What is this dark urge in humanity that makes people desire to kill rare animals, as though this adds somehow to their own reputations? National Geographic recently published a detailed research article by Dina Fine Maron entitled “A rare animal is being killed to make $20,000 dollar scarves”.

These scarves are made from the wool of the beautiful Tibetan antelope. Four antelopes are killed to make a single scarf called a shahtoosh, meaning “king of wools” in Persian. The wool is particularly soft and a whole shahtoosh can be pulled through a ring for the finger. It is internationally illegal to import or trade in the wool of the Tibetan antelope. This makes shahtooshes even more desirable, of course.

The species lives almost exclusively in the Changtang area of Tibet. China has imposed strict protective laws, and CITES has enforced strict protection measures from 1979. Nonetheless, smugglers send raw wool into India where skilled artisans in Kashmir weave the shahtooshes. Demand wiped out 90% of the antelopes during the 20th century. From an estimated one million Tibetan antelopes the previous century, about 75,000 were left by the 1990s.

Weaving shahtooshes was made illegal in India in the 1970s, but the wool continues to be smuggled into the country. Demand comes mainly from Westerners.  

Here in South Africa, we have canned lion hunting and the cruel breeding of lions on ‘lion farms’, where females are bred to exhaustion and then murdered, along with adult males, by hunters, mainly visitors, for fun. Lion bones are legally exported to the East because tigers have largely been killed off for their bones. Supersitition rules.

Note that the NSPCA is doing its utmost to get canned lion hunting and the export of lion bones banned. Elephants, rhino and other large wild beasts are also victims of canned hunting.



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