Prince William has bravely come out in defence of trophy hunting.
‘There is a place for commercial hunting in Africa as there is round the world,’ although he conceded: ‘It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.’
For this the heir to the British throne has inevitably been pilloried by the usual suspects.
The UK-based charity Lion Aid was among those leading the criticism, describing William’s comments as a “sad day”.
It added in a statement: “With likely less than 15,000 wild lions left in Africa, there is no place for commercial hunting of lions. With an estimated 1,500 wild male lions in existence and with current ‘offtake’ for trophy hunting of 300 per annum, continued trophy hunting cannot be deemed as sustainable.
But it’s the Prince who is talking sense on this occasion, not this two-bit animal charity. William has been getting an awful lot of stick, of late, in the UK media which has accused him of ducking his royal duties and being lazy. Under the circumstances, it would have been quite understandable if he’d taken the easy, populist line, rode the wave of post-Cecil-the-Lion hysteria and pretended to be frightfully upset by the idea of any big game being shot for pleasure ever again in Africa.
He didn’t take the coward’s way out, though. Instead William spoke the truth.
Trophy hunting brings millions of dollars a year into Africa’s wildlife conservation budget. Anyone who truly cares about wildlife should applaud it, not condemn it.
The only reason we don’t hear this more often is because of the vast and lucrative animal sentimentality industry. Aided and abetted by the bloviating of celebrities like Ricky Gervais, this industry makes millions of dollars every year by persuading rich, stupid people such as – I’m guessing, but fairly educatedly – the Kardashians to fork out gazillions for this endangered tiger or that threatened lion, bringing them the warm gooey feeling you always get when you think you’ve saved a cute, furry feline from being wiped off the planet. This industry does not deal in nuance (like, say, OK: how do we save all these animals given that natives who have to live alongside them consider them a dangerous pest?), only in raw emotion. You cross these animal-rights lunatics at your peril.
I expect after this poor Prince William is going to get even more stick than ever before. Royal experts will tell us that this affords yet further proof that the Prince has been “ill-advised”, that he has committed another “PR gaffe”, that it is evidence of his hypocrisy towards animals whereby on the one hand he represents various wildlife charities and on the other supports trophy hunting and himself shoots for pleasure.
Nonsense. It is entirely proper that the second in line to the British throne should enjoy healthy, manly, traditional pastimes like game-shooting, stalking and – ideally, the greatest sport of all – foxhunting. And it speaks volumes for William’s courage – and increasing independence from his somewhat dimwitted father, the Prince of Wales – that he should tell the truth about the vital importance of hunting to conservation, rather than cravenly ducking the issue.
In the past, his younger brother Prince Harry has got all the credit for being the brave one in the family for having served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. But that’s physical courage. What Prince William has shown here is the equally important virtue of moral courage. This augurs well for his reign.