I shoot things for fun. There's nothing like it for me, the feeling of satisfaction in squeezing, slowly, calmly as I stare at my target. My arms hold strong and steady, preventing any movement. As I seize the perfect moment, my finger, trained and ready, smoothly reacts. The loud mechanical processes instantaneously fire. I lower the rubber eye piece, eyes trained on the scene still unfolding. Another chance emerges, and my hands raise, poised again, rubber pressed close to my face, finger hovering. Quickly I fire off another shot.
I know what you're thinking... 'he's obviously talking about his camera'. And you'd be right. But while I believe the only capturing of wildlife should be done through a lens, some people still choose to view them through very different glass. I was made aware of some internet activism today that was inspiring. The story behind it, shocking.
This image, from sport hunter Melissa Bachman's facebook, is quickly becoming the shot heard round the world. "An incredible day hunting in South Africa! Stalked inside 60-yards on this beautiful male lion, what a hunt!" wrote Bachman. The post has only recently gained notoriety as celebrities such as Ricky Gervais have taken to the internet to express disgust. Furthermore, South Africans began a petition to ban her re-entry to the nation. Currently there are nearly 80,000 signatures on the petition, with one signer explaining his reasoning, “Hunting is not a sport. In a sport, both sides should know they're in the game.”
What got me involved was the fact that in every image she has a wide (well-maintained) smile over the body of some endangered creature. I don't understand how someone can find joy from killing these animals. Perhaps I'm the odd one here, but I find that watching animals as they naturally behave, free from captivity, to be what brings joy and excitement. The second bit that frustrates me is that it appears Melissa shoots with the aid of a robust tripod. I'm sorry but is there any skill involved in this hunt now? I would wager that the only thing Melissa did during this hunt was squeeze a trigger. What of the Zebra? What of the Lion?
300,000 lions roamed 20 years ago, today that number is only 30,000. Well, 29,999. That is an absurd decline in population, and the causes have not been natural. Hunters and poachers like Melissa Bachman are wiping out our planet's unique species. Is there even a distinction between sport hunters and poachers?
While I'm frustrated by these images and people like Melissa Bachman, I was quite pleased with the reaction. The petition to bar her from South Africa has 80,000 signatures, it had 5,000 yesterday. The web is an incredibly powerful tool, it is far reaching and as informative as you make it. I know that we might use it to tweet about the Katy Perry concert and instagram our morning coffee, but we can also use it to inspire each other. We can fund the next radical idea, we can break down social barriers, we can start revolutions, we can bring about peace. The internet has placed the ball on our side of the court in this game, Melissa, and you won't like our backhand.
Images are courtesy of Melissa Bachman's Facebook page.
To ignite change, or to fuel it, check out change.org