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Killing animals for sport is pathetic and obscene

Why do some humans feel the need to inflict suffering on animals for "sport" when there are so many alternative and equally challenging forms of recreation?

I ask myself that question yet again after reading about the dentist who paid $50,000 for the privilege of killing Zimbabwe's oldest and best-loved lion. He shot the animal - called Cecil - with a crossbow before beheading and skinning him.

I can understand people hunting for food to survive, as was the norm in past centuries. Native Americans, for example, killed buffalo to feed and clothe themselves (in contrast to the colonising Europeans, who shot the animals from passing trains and left them to rot in the open countryside).

Recreational killing of animals is an obscenity that demeans our species. And it isn't limited to any one nation or continent.

Spain has bullfighting, in which a powerful creature is reduced to a whimpering hulk by repeated stabbing with lances prior to its agonising death. We inflict an array of tortures and indignities on animals here, too.

The fox, for example, serves as the butt of another joke that calls itself a sport. And driven shoots are organised not to fill the larder or the dinner plate, but to enable well-heeled gunslingers to calmly blast semi-tame birds at close range (a supposed re-enactment of warfare - except that the "enemy" can't shoot back).

I wonder if the man who killed Cecil the Lion had any misgivings before or after the "sport"; if he was moved in the slightest by the sight of that proverbial King of the Jungle brought low and destroyed for a few minutes' fun.

Looking at the pictures of that majestic creature, its body hacked to pieces, I am reinforced in my view that the best way to shoot an animal is with a camera.


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