Big-game slaughter, not hunting

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Sir: I have nothing against dentists. At age 78, I still have loads of teeth and I am on very friendly terms with my Chatham dentist, whose only problem is the way he tells jokes when my mouth is open and I can’t laugh.

I’m pretty sure he hasn’t shot a lion because we don’t have any lions in town, except, of course, those two-legged lions who meet on Merritt Avenue.

But if my dentist ever shot a lion, I wouldn’t be too pleased; I would march up and down Highway 40 strongly protesting. Except I can’t march too well these days.

I am writing this out of respect for Cecil. Not Cecil the Blue Jays’ pitcher. I am referring to Cecil, the 13-year-old lion, who was a local favourite among tourists and guides in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. It is alleged the poor old lion was lured out of the protected national park by some men who tied an animal carcass to their car, where he was shot by an American trophy-hunter dentist.

While in South Africa a few years ago, we stayed with a widow who had lived in Zimbabwe when it was called Rhodesia. She told us about wealthy American trophy hunters who paid thousands of dollars to have wild animals driven up to a fence so they could be slaughtered.

In the 1960s, I used to correspond with American writer Judy Van Der Veer with whom I became quite friendly. She once wrote: “I live in the country with lots of animals and see lots of people. I hate to travel but have done some. I have more fun at home. I also hate all hunters, trappers and poisoners. I am interested in things like the importance of the individual, whether animal or human. And I like all races and/or colors of people, but hate people who destroy land and animals.”

When we lived in Elliot Lake in northern Ontario, I had an argument with the owner of a hunting lodge because of their boast about the baits being “strategically placed by experienced baiters well in advance and kept active for the hunters’ arrival.”

I never wrote to Judy about that because she had died of cancer in November 1982, but I would have done if she had been alive, and I would have loved to read her response.

Stephen Beecroft

Chatham

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