Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

Legal Hunting: An ethical sports or recreational killing?

Irfan Karim

About a month ago, I saw some pictures making rounds on social media of a young boy standing next to a dead ibex which he killed legally with his proud father by his side. The father of thirteen year old claimed later that his son was preparing for competing in Olympics for long range shooting. This news got quite some attention locally since the kid was one of the youngest to hunt a 40 inch trophy.

This news and these pictures  brought out a different reaction and had a bitter affect on me. It broke my heart thinking about the pain this animal had endured. I was unable to shake off the image of  this powerless corpse lying motionless in the feet of his young killer.  I could feel how hopeless and disappointed he must have felt before taking his final breath. I could feel as if he wanted to ask that young kid in his final moments;  why, why me?

After this encounter with my own conscious, I tried to look for the narrative which makes it reasonable for people who are devoid of cognitive logic and compassion to think of hunting as a harmless sports. There are studies which dig  in to the psychology of hunters and provide possible explanations about why killing animals is fun for these people. Most of these studies conclude that it gives hunter a three dimensional satisfaction  i.e.  achievement, affiliation and appreciation . Others  point in the more obvious direction which we all can reasonably assume; “A hunter gets a great deal of pleasure from hunting and  smiles are greater when a hunter poses with a bigger, rare and a dangerous corpse.” So it is more of a selfish human act  just for the sake of personal pleasure which cost animals their lives.

Now let’s focus on the question:” Is hunting an ethical sports or just recreational killing?”.

  In general, sports is considered a healthy competition between two consenting parties, played by the rules with a referee to ensure a fair game. The keywords in this general understanding of sports are healthy competition, consenting parties and a fair game. Let’s  try to elaborate this understanding in the context of Hunting. In Hunting legal or illegal the second party can’t give you consent and even if it could it won’t because no life intelligent or otherwise deem itself unimportant to concede to death , Secondly Hunting can never be a fair game because a good hunt will always end up in  brutal death of the animal. Therefore this activity is not so much of a competition but rather a life ending threat for the animal.  People with apposing point of view might object and say this is not the whole picture and there are so many rules you need to follow and play by for ethical hunting but isn’t it obvious that no matter how good you play by the book you are still making a choice to kill an innocent animal Therefore I question: how much ethical this practice can be?

The  mindset behind the belief that it is just another game like any other positive sports has insane disregard for the life around us . It is a pity that we have dive so deep in to our selfish lives that in order to make it more  fulfilling and adventurous we have coined terms like legal hunting and we keep branding it  as an ethical sports. But honestly we are doing all this brain storming to decipher the cruel reality of recreational killing and to introduce acceptable alternative diction for it.

If we observe the hunting  madness in the local  scenario of Hunza and GB we see that there are some socio-economic aspects associated with this rising trend of recreational killing. The government and wildlife conservation agencies  are actually promoting and validating their offerings in the form of rare animals to local and foreign tourists for various purposes i.e.  a) To attract more adventurous tourists towards the region. b)  To manage shortage of funds for the welfare projects of local people and to hide their financial incapability and unwillingness to explore alternatives. c) To keep the conservational managers afloat.

It may all seems fair to us because we tend to think that we can trade our welfare over the life of an animal and it can be tempting when stakes are that high. But we need to develop love and compassion for animals and the life around us because GB is bestowed with abundance of beautiful flora and fauna and  some share their habitat with us. It is our duty to protect their lives  and to reject the idea of building our way to prosperity on corpses of these gorgeous rare animals.

Here are some free lines, they may not rhyme but certainly helped me outpour my feelings.

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