African Reserves

Ricky Gervais castigates “evil” hunters by asking “who do they think they are?”

Comedian and activist Ricky Gervais has condemned the “nasty” hunters who will attempt to kill a polar bear tomorrow at the Safari Club International’s annual convention.

Proceeds from the auction, it is claimed, will be used to lobby the UK government against the ban on the import of hunting specimens.

Ricky, a supporter of the campaign to ban trophy hunting, told the Mirror: “Who do these people think they are, auctioning off the lives of animals so sadists can kill them for fun?

“Taking down an endangered polar bear to raise money as if it were a school raffle is one of the craziest things ever.

“We are seeing the number of polar bears approaching extinction. But they still think it’s OK to shoot them for fun. What planet are they on?







The Safari Club International Convention has been around for 50 years
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Rowan Griffiths/Daily Mirror)


“They do it to raise money to thwart democracy in Britain – everyone here wants to ban this trade.

“They’re going to blow this poor creature up so someone can get an adrenaline rush and pay some shrewd lobbyists to weave their web of deception.”

His comments come as thousands of bloodthirsty big game hunters wander when the Mirror is offered the chance to “follow in the footsteps” of dentist Walter Palmer and kill a lion.

Despite growing global outrage over the pay-to-slay industry which sees thousands of animals slaughtered each year, for £73,000 we could execute one of the kings of the jungle.

We’ve had some sickening offers at this week’s convention, which boasts of being the world’s largest event for trophy killers committed to conservation.







Big game hunters can purchase bespoke trips to shoot wildlife around the world
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Rowan Griffiths/Daily Mirror)


But critics say few of the millions spent by hunters go to wildlife protection and much goes into the pockets of corrupt African officials.

The Las Vegas event, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is a market for serial animal killers such as Palmer, who shot Cecil the lion and fellow hunter Phil Smith, who killed the chief of the Mopan pride.

The Mirror had at least 31 lion hunting safaris for sale. The actual amount could be higher.

Over four days, SCI is raising millions from 25,000 participants who bid tens of thousands of pounds in sick auctions to kill animals – many of which are protected by international law.

Dawid Muller of Daggaboy Hunting Safaris flew to Las Vegas from Namibia, offering a menu of beasts to slaughter.







Chris Bucktin interviews David Muller, owner of the Daggaboy Hunting safari
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Rowan Griffiths/Daily Mirror)


They included lion, elephant, buffalo, hippopotamus, crocodile, sable, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, and baboon. All had prices listed except the lion, the cost of which was given on request.

Dawid offered the Mirror the chance to hunt one of the big cats for 14 days for $100,000 (£73,589).

“It’s expensive,” he said. “The cost depends on the baits… leave four or five baits, the price goes up. If you’re lucky and get the lion early, it can cost $100,000, but it can go up to $120,000.

He said the ‘open hunt’ would likely take place in Zambia, but instead we could buy a discounted canned hunt, targeting a lion bred for the ball on a private reserve in South Africa.

Another participant, Louis Muller – unrelated to Dawid – proposed hunts in Zimbabwe where Cecil and Mopane were shot.







A price list for the Daggaboy Hunting Safari Company offered at the Safari Club International Convention
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Rowan Griffiths/Daily Mirror)


The guide, who runs Pro Safaris Africa, said it would cost “a minimum of $70,000”.

“Lion is all about supply and demand,” he said. “If you look at Zimbabwe, we only kill 30 lions a year. In southern Africa, I think there are 300 shot.

“A wild lion, the cheapest you’ll find is probably around $55,000, and depending on how long you hunt, it can be as high as $150,000.”

Louis explained that some of the hunts involve killing and shooting animals such as giraffes to attract lions.







For four days, SCI raises millions from its 25,000 participants
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Rowan Griffiths/Daily Mirror)


He added: “The cost of baiting is significant. You need hippo and giraffe and stuff like that because they eat a lot of them.

He bragged: “I still have a lion license but they’ve all been sold for two or three years.”

The Convention is the Mecca of Americans, who make up 80% of all trophy hunters. In 2017 alone, 650,000 trophies were imported into the United States.

Due to Covid the number has dropped. But now travel restrictions have been eased, guides told the Mirror they were ‘inundated’ with calls. “Hunters want to make up for lost time,” said one exhibitor. “Our reserves are rich in animals to harvest.”







Prices for shooting the lions are not listed but are available on request
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Rowan Griffiths/Daily Mirror)


Eduardo Goncalves, from the campaign to ban trophy hunting, told the Mirror that the convention was “the most shocking killing party in the world”.

He said, “If there’s an animal you want to kill for fun, this is the place to buy it. There is something for every psychopath. God knows how it’s still allowed today.

“Lion numbers are plummeting, scientists warn they could be extinct by 2050.

“Yet the hunting companies literally make a splash by flogging them to be choked for fun. The people running these businesses and the hunters should all be jailed.







Critics argue that few of the huge sums of money spent by hunters protect wildlife
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Picture:

Rowan Griffiths/Daily Mirror)


Mr Goncalves said the SCI, which spends £10m a year on lobbying, is now ‘pouring money into a campaign’ to block a UK trophy ban.

He said: ‘He was surprised to hire contractors who set up a fake ‘Africans for Trophy Hunting’ group to influence Ministers and MPs.

“God knows what other underhanded tactics SCI and its cronies have up their sleeve. The one thing we can be certain of is that it will be a pack of lies.

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