Inspired by ISIS: Trump administration will reward hunters who collect severed heads as ‘trophies’

If there’s any remaining doubt that the U.S. government is now led by a cabal of twisted misfits, read this:

Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, writes: With barely contained enthusiasm, Safari Club International (SCI) announced on its own initiative today that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has reversed critical elephant protections established during the Obama administration, allowing imports of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia. For decades, Zimbabwe has been run by a dictator who has targeted and killed his political opponents, and operated the country’s wildlife management program as something of a live auction. Remember, it was Zimbabwe where Walter Palmer shot Cecil, one of the most beloved and well-studied African lions, who was lured out of a national park for the killing. Palmer paid a big fee even though it did irreparable damage to the nation’s reputation.

The United States has listed African elephants under the federal Endangered Species Act, and hunting trophies can only be imported if the federal government finds that killing them positively enhances the survival of the species. Under the prior administration, FWS made the eminently reasonable decision that Zimbabwe – one of the most corrupt countries on earth – was not managing its elephant population in a sustainable manner. Government officials allegedly have been involved in both poaching of elephants and illegal export of ivory tusks. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe even celebrated his birthday last year by feasting on an elephant.

Zimbabwe’s elephant population has declined six percent since 2001 and evidence shows that poaching has increased in areas where trophy hunting is permitted (such as in the Chirisa and Chete safari areas). A number of problems with Zimbabwe’s elephant management remain unresolved to date: the lack of an elephant management plan; lack of sufficient data on population numbers and trends; anemic enforcement of wildlife laws; lack of information about how money derived from trophy hunting by U.S. hunters is distributed within Zimbabwe; and lack of a national mechanism, such as government support, to sustain elephant conservation efforts in the country.

This jarring announcement comes on the same day that global news sources report that Mr. Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s aging dictator, is under house arrest following a military coup. This fact in and of itself highlights the absurdity and illegal nature of the FWS decision to find that Zimbabwe is capable of ensuring that elephant conservation and trophy hunting are properly managed. [Continue reading…]

Given its passion for violence and destruction, ISIS has often been described as a nihilistic movement. Likewise, men who confuse the destructive power of weapons with a measure of their own strength are also unleashing a life-denying nihilistic force. This might get cloaked in some childish mythology about the return to a natural state in which man fights for his own survival, but if any hunter truly wanted to understand what that might actually mean, they should find out what it’s like to live for a while among one of the few remaining tribes of hunter-gatherers. Most likely, the big game hunters who want to proudly display an elephant or lion’s head above their mantelpiece, wouldn’t have enough stamina to trek for hours on end through savannah or jungle, let alone have the skill to participate in a kill.

Walter Palmer later said: “If I had known this lion had a name and was important to the country or a study, obviously I wouldn’t have taken it. Nobody in our hunting party knew before or after the name of this lion.”

Presumably, in his way of thinking, the creatures of particular value get names while the rest are expendable — a perspective that no doubt applies not just among hunters but among employers and across many sectors of human society.

If the protection of endangered species requires that surviving individuals all get named, we will soon end up in a situation where these animals can only be found in zoos and viable gene pools will have been decimated along with the habitats that sustain species diversity.

Those who believe they can pick and choose between lives, designating a few as precious and many others as worthless, really need to ask themselves whether they value life at all.

At the root of this assumption of a god-like power over life, there is an expression of alienation from life itself.

Those who destroy or neglect the lives of others, far from ensuring their own survival, have on the contrary lost touch with the vibrant experience of what it means to be alive. Life is not something we can possess but something by which we are possessed.

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