Big game hunter shot and killed while stalking captive-bred lion

A Croatian big game hunter was shot and killed during a hunting expedition in South Africa on Saturday. Pero Jelinic, whose reputation describes him as having “hunted everything that could be hunted in Europe,” had killed one captive-bred lion and had taken aim at a second lion when a “stray” bullet struck him.

According to the Total Croatia News, police are now investigating the incident as a possible homicide. The property where Jelinic, 75, died, raises lions in captivity to be hunted as trophies in a ‘sport’ has been widely condemned and is called “canned hunting.” In South Africa, there are more lions held in captivity than lions that live in the wild. Although owners of these farms try to say they do not hunt and kill lions, most of these breeders sell their stock to be shot dead by rich trophy hunters from Europe and North America. The lions have been held captive all their lives, and when released to an enclosed area have no idea that man is their mortal enemy. Quickly they become the innocent victims of rifles, handguns and crossbows. Not much hunting required!

In January, the Dallas Safari Club released its position on Captive Bred Lion Hunting stating:

“Few animals in Africa, or anywhere, are as iconic as the African lion. As hunters we understand the benefits of lion hunting. Dallas Safari Club has stated, and firmly believes, that in the fight to save lions, hunters are their best allies… In South Africa, captive bred lion hunting is legal. Several professional hunting associations and hunting conservation organizations have commented on the negative impact that captive bred lion hunting has on them and the hunting community in general…”

The organization ends with the statement that captive bred lion hunting is not a practice that is in keeping with its values of ethical and fair chase hunting.

Humane organizations view lion hunting as cruel and unnecessary. The Humane Society of the United States remains highly opposed to the hunting of any living creature for fun, trophy or sport. When all avenues have been exhausted where it becomes necessary to kill some wildlife, it should be performed by responsible and humane methods

According to a close friend of Jelinic, the wealthy hotel owner from the island of Pag, wanted the head of a lion “to crown his rich hunting career.” The hunter had been staying at Leeubosch Lodge, a four-hour drive from Johannesburg; 40 miles from the border with Botswana.

Read more about trophy hunting and its dire implications here.

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Trump expresses doubt about overturning policy allowing elephant trophies in U.S.

On Sunday evening, President Trump expressed more doubt about overturning the previous 2014 policy enacted by President Obama concerning big game and elephant trophies shot for sport to be imported into the United States.

Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal.

Trump is apparently questioning whether this “horror show” would actually be of benefit to the conservation of any animal. The United States Fish and Wildlife argue that encouraging rich big game hunters to kill the endangered species, would help raise money for preservation programs. On the government website, applications were made available, and the announcement already had been posted; much to the outrage of animal rights advocates, environmental groups and even Republican lawmakers who support animal advocacy and protection. The website included a notice that permitting parts of elephants to be brought back to the United States from Zimbabwe and Zambia would raise money for the animals’ future conservation after their research. No convincing research results have ever been made available.
On Friday, Trump tweeted he would review the policy with avid hunter and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke:

Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!

In smaller print, the policy also rolled back protections for African lions, releasing new guidelines that would allow hunters to bring back trophies from Africa.

And for those wondering how this 2014 rollback began, the Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association sued to block the ban. Last week, the deputy director of the FWS, Greg Sheehan made the announcement, during the organization sponsored African Wildlife Consultative Forum in Tanzia, which had been hosted by the Safari Club and Tanzania.   The Safari Club’s political action committees donated $24,500 to Trump’s presidential campaign and Zinke’s 2014 and 2016 congressional campaigns, according to Federal Election Commission data.

In response to  Trump’s suspension, the Safari Club sent out a “call to arms,” encouraging hunters to contact Trump and Zinke and “tell them how much you appreciate the efforts of the Fish & Wildlife Service to remove barriers to sustainable use conservation for African wildlife” with the group calling out “hysterical anti-hunters and news media outlets.”  The FWS continues to defend its position as “part of a robust United States conservation strategy that seeks to eliminate poaching and associated wildlife trafficking.”

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also reached out to the President stating the current unrest in Zimbabwe lends no confidence in the government prudently directing any funding through appropriate channels. In addition, African elephants have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1978. It remains to be seen how killing endangered species adds to their survival.

Read previous article here.

(Photo of elephant trophies

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WH says decision on elephant and lion trophies brought back to U.S. not final but…

At the White House press briefing Thursday afternoon, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters when asked about the reported policy shift referencing the ban on elephant trophies lifted and whether he changed his views on hunting, Sanders replied:

“Actually, there hasn’t been an announcement that’s been finalized on this front. Until that’s done, I wouldn’t consider anything final.”

Sanders then referred questions to the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service. Of particular interest when referring to what Sanders stated, it would seem the decision has already been made. The ban on elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia is expected to be reversed on Friday morning when the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision is published in the Federal Register. Currently however, the decision is available for public inspection. It will take effect barring a last minute intervention.

November 16, 2017 – The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) will begin issuing permits to allow the import of sport-hunted trophies from elephants hunted in Zimbabwe, on or after January 21, 2016, and on or before December 31, 2018, for import permit applications that meet all other applicable requirements. More information on this decision can be found in our Questions & Answers.

The decision to allow trophy hunters who kill elephants and lions in two African countries to bring the endangered animals home as trophies continues to outrage humane groups, animal lovers and animal activists.
In an apparent “win-win” for the NRA and the Safari Club International, a hunting advocacy group, it was all  cheers about the reversal on Tuesday morning as their website recognized how the Fish and Wildlife Services claimed hunting is beneficial to wildlife and that these range countries know how to manage their elephant populations. There has been no legitimate proof supporting the claims that killing elephants is good for the species. One has to really wonder how much these trophy hunters will make on the profit selling the ivory tusks of the elephants they kill?
 The Humane Society of the United States contends many problems still remain with Zimbabwe’s elephant management plan, including corruption, lack of government support and poaching.

“Let’s be clear: elephants are on the list of threatened species; the global community has rallied to stem the ivory trade; and now, the U.S. government is giving American trophy hunters the green light to kill them,” wrote Wayne Pacelle, the organization’s president and CEO.

And there’s more. As (FWS) announced it was lifting a ban on the import of elephant “trophies” from Zimbabwe and Zambia, it also  published new guidelines that showed lions shot in the two African countries will also be eligible to be mounted on those trophy room walls in the United States.

President Trump has previously spoken out against hunting after photos of his eldest sons, Don Jr. and Eric, posing with trophies, provoked criticism. When a photo of Don Jr. holding a severed elephant tail went viral over social media, Trump addressed the issue on Twitter in March 2012.

“I’m not a hunter and don’t approve of killing animals. I strongly disagree with my sons who are hunters, but they acted legally and did what lots of hunters do,” Trump wrote.

Read yesterday’s article here.

(Photo of elephants to become trophies again

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Kill bison lottery: National Park Service garners those ‘good with guns’ to cull herd

The National Park Service (NPS) has been looking for volunteers who are “good with guns” to kill bison in the Grand Canyon. Currently statistics state there are 600 bison in the area, and wildlife personnel say there must be 200 or less to adequately maintain a sustainable habitat. Wildlife experts predict the current herd could grow to 1,500 if left unchecked.

The Flagstaff area bison are descendants of those introduced to northern Arizona in the early 1900s as part of a ranching operation to crossbreed them with cattle. Now owned by the state of Arizona, there is an annual draw for tags on the Kaibab National Forest where 1,500 people have applied for one of 122 tags this year, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Hunters are only allowed to kill one bison in their lifetime which makes the prospect even more exciting to those who like to hunt.

“The Grand Canyon is still working out details of the volunteers effort, but it’s taking cues from national parks in Colorado, the Dakotas and Wyoming that have used shooters to cut overabundant or diseased populations of elk,” the NPS stated on their website.

The park is off limits to hunters where the bison currently live. The most recent plan includes a hunter teaming up with a “Park Service employee to shoot bison using non-lead ammunition” because of the presence of the California condors. Hunters will have to pass rigorous health tests to ensure they are able to hike several miles a day and shoot at a precise target.

Some bison will be transferred to other areas. According to the USA Today, Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club says she’s hopeful the staff at the Grand Canyon will focus mostly on non-lethal removal.

As to what would happen to the heads, hide and meat from the bisons? State officials have stated they would be given to state agencies and tribes or even split among the volunteers.

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Cecil the Lion’s son, ‘Xanda’ killed by trophy hunter in Zimbabwe

Just two years after Cecil the Lion was killed by a big game trophy hunter from the United States, one of the lion’s cubs was shot dead in Zimbabwe a few days ago. The six-year-old lion named Xanda, who had been in the prime of his life, was shot and killed under similar circumstances as his father on the outskirts of Hwange National Park.

According to the Telegraph, Xanda’s death was discovered after his electronic collar monitoring the cat’s moves alerted Andrew Loveridge from the Department of Zoology at Oxford University. The Zimbabwean hunter who arranged the hunt, Richard Cooke, from RC Safaris, found the collar on the lion and turned it over to the researchers. Cooke has not announced the name of his client, however most lion hunters are from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany or South Africa.

“I fitted it last October,” stated Loveridge. It was monitored almost daily, and we were aware  that Xanda and his pride were spending a lot of time out of the park in the last six months, but there is not much we can do about that.”

According to authorities, the hunt was legal since Xanda was over six-years of age, and he was out of the protection of the park. It is hoped there will soon be a three-mile exclusion zone around the Hwange National Park, so that hunters would no longer accidentally shoot collared lions when they roam outside of the park. On the Facebook page of Lions of Hwange National Park came the devastating post about Xanda’s death:

“Today we heard that a few days ago, Xanda, the son of #CecilTheLionhas been shot on a trophy hunt by Zimbabwe PH Richard Cooke. Cooke also killed Xanda’s brother in 2015, he was only about 4 years old then. Xanda is still a young father at 6.2 years old and has several young cubs. We can’t believe that now, 2 years since Cecil was killed, that his oldest Cub #Xanda has met the same fate.

When will the Lions of Hwange National Park be left to live out their years as wild born free lions should…?”

At the time Cecil the Lion was killed, he had wandered close to the boundary when Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer paid $65,000 to shoot and kill the lion with a bow and arrow. Social media erupted when news of the beloved lion’s death was announced, and Palmer hid for weeks – including temporarily having to suspend his dental practice.

Cecil and his pure magnificent stature brought smiles and admiration from across the world. The 13-year-old lion did not die immediately that awful night he was shot, and suffered for hours until he was tracked down and killed the next day. Palmer was originally charged for illegally hunting the lion, however charges were later dropped.

Rest in peace Xanda. Why does man have to hunt for fun? Didn’t Xanda have the right to live his life too? Tell us what you think.

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(Photos of Xanda screenshot by Picasa and Facebook Lions of Hwange National Park)

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Vet who posed with lion he killed as trophy dies while hunting

An Italian veterinarian who was fired from his job as director of a kennel, after killing a lion and a warthog while on safari in Tanzania, died while hunting birds. Luciano Ponzetto, 55, died this week after he was out hunting with friends and slipped on the ice tumbling to his death down a ravine near the Italian city of Turin.luciano-ponzetto2

According to The Sun, Ponzetto had been trying to shoot wild birds to eat when he died. He had recently returned from a shooting trip in Canada where he bragged he had “several big hits.”

In November 2015, Ponzetto was pounded with hate messages worldwide after photos appeared on social media of him posing with his rifle next to the body of a once magnificent lion. The lion’s death drew even more ire as advocates compared the killing to Cecil the Lion shot by American game hunter Walter Palmer in October, 2015  in Zimbabwe. According to Ponzetto, he said he had killed the lion several years previous and the photos had only recently appeared. Those defending Ponzetto said he had a permit to kill the animals and did nothing wrong. Ponzetto openly tried to defend himself in various interviews and on social media, however the public wasn’t buying it:

“I know that I have done nothing wrong. I am being criticized by people who do not know me. I have always loved my work and I have always loved animals. I will carry on hunting until the law changes,” Ponzetto posted.

The unwanted publicity at the kennels where Ponzetto worked near Turin caved into the massive campaign of animal advocates complaining, and after 16 years as the medical director the game hunter was fired.luciano-ponzetto

“We are totally opposed to any form of hunting or abuse of animals, whether they be wild or domestic, the kennels said in their public statement.

Social media sites have labeled the vet’s accident as “karma.” Authorities said he died instantly due to the fall and there was nothing that could have been done to save his life.

Photo lion killed by vet via  Facebook.

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