|This is a monumental fuckup. A meaningless|
The questions are there, whether we choose to engage with them or not. Why do people hunt these magnificent animals? Why do African governments provide permitted hunting in their countries? Did Walter Palmer break the law? If he didn't break the law, was what he did ok? And what about that 40 hour stalk after the initial shooting? Wasn't that the worst thing ever?
I'm not sure I can answer every one of those questions, but the grey areas so massively outnumber the black and white conclusions I've seen on the internet that I've got to try. Let's start with our friend the dentist. The man everyone knows is the second coming of Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein. It seems pretty clear that he did some things that are either illegal or at least outside the realm of legitimate African big game hunting. So if we start from the premise that this guy - or his guide, or both - cut corners in order to get a trophy Lion, then the whole conversation is pointless. He's a bad guy, a criminal, and what he did has nothing to tell us about legal hunting in Africa.
At the end of the day, hunting is one of those things - like abortions and pickup trucks - that are value neutral. If you don't think they are good, or right, that's perfectly fine. Don't participate. But standing up and declaring that anyone that disagrees with you is evil and should be shunned, or worse, makes you just another extremist, no different than the Westboro Baptist Church.
You don't have to love hunting, or be interested in hunting, or even be slightly positive about hunting. You just have to understand a genuine fact, even if you find it distasteful or outside of your belief system. The hunters care deeply about the conservation of the species - they WANT to be able to hunt them again in the future. If you deny that, you are dishonest and closed-minded. Why do I make such a big point of this argument? Because there are so many 'true believers' on the internet who cannot integrate their worldview with reality. Which is funny - their policy positions are legitimate, but they become ludicrous and illegitimate as soon as they deny reality.
Two things remain true regardless of the level of spittle flecked ideological denial. First, the primary threats to large African species are habitat loss and poaching. Particularly poaching. Elephant ivory, Rhino horn, Bear liver - these are things that have ridiculous value on the global market, and there are local people with modern weapons - AKs, even RPGs - that will slaughter large numbers to generate as much near-term revenue as possible. And second, licensed, permitted, regulated hunting is designed from the ground up to preserve the species and conserve the ecosystem. The animals that can be hunted are old and outside the growth of the herd, and those same regulations prevent the taking of young breeding populations.
Finally, let's address the aftermath of the hunt. The dentist only wounded the lion, and then spent two days following the wounded animal, until he could finally track him down and finish him off. Isn't this proof of his cold-hearted brutality? Actually, no. Remember, sometimes surgeons mess up. Sometimes Serena Williams misses a shot. Hunting is hard, and while hunters are generally very good about taking good, clean shots, the tiniest error or change in environmental conditions can cause your shot to go awry. That's always been part of the the reality of the hunter, and hunting 101 speaks to this very question before all others. Take a good shot, and never, NEVER let a wounded animal go off to die alone. A cruel, self-interested hunter might shrug his shoulders and say, 'oh well, we missed that one, fuck him, let's start over and try again'. That simply NEVER happens. Hunters dig in and track their targets, and sometimes, when those targets are Cape Buffalo or something similarly dangerous, this is the most frightening part of the hunt. Let me know when you're prepared to go into a dense forest to follow a wounded Grizzly Bear. I'll be six paces behind you.