You’d probably expect to come face-to-face with some horrific realities – beside the attendees themselves – regarding the world we live in at the 2019 Safari Club International convention.
But the results of an undercover investigation have been made public, and reveal a whole world of animal pain and inhumane pleasure taken in the hunting and killing of wildlife, manifesting in ways you might not know still exist today.
In morbid photographic and video evidence from undercover activists of the Humane Society International, you can see how far some people are prepared to take their so-called trophies garnered from this cruel sport.
HSI supplied UNILAD with the footage below:
The video shows members casually taking in the potentially illegal goods on offer, at the Reno-Sparks Convention Centre in Nevada, which hosts the world’s largest trophy hunting convention held by Safari Club International (SCI).
Couples and families who browsed the wares can be seen ambling past a stuffed bear, carved out mammoth tusks illustrated with pretty scenes of live rhinos, polished skulls, and other remains of dead animals killed for sport.
Among the morbid display of devastating human dominance over the animal kingdom, investigators found a table made from a hippo’s skull – with a takeaway coffee cup dumped on its glass top – as well as boots, belts, and purses made from stingray skin, as well as paintings rendered onto the carved up ears of elephants.
Bizarrely, the dead elephant skins are painted with pictures of some of these majestic creatures living in the wild, in an astounding display of cognitive dissonance.
Elsewhere, the activists disguised as hunters found an elephant skin bench, elephant leather boots, shoes, chaps, belts, and saddles, as well as bracelets made from elephant hair.
One vendor was selling an entire mammoth tusk. You could buy boxes and boxes of hippo teeth and bone, or leather belts and boots made from hippo hide.
From the sea, attendees could purchase belts made from shark skin or, perhaps, a knife with a handle made of narwhal tusk.
The Safari Club International convention is the group’s annual gathering, which attracts individuals who’ve made a macabre hobby of traveling all over the world to kill animals for their heads and hides.
While the club claims to ‘protect the right to hunt’ and ‘promote wildlife conservation’, its members seem to have a funny way of interpreting the latter half of the ethos.
Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, and president of Humane Society International, alleges SCI is profiting from the illegal wildlife trade.
Block told UNILAD:
The world’s leading trophy hunting industry group is apparently promoting, enabling, and profiting from the illegal wildlife trade and unethical hunting practices.
Conservation laws and hunting ethics are thrown out the window by SCI when financial profit is involved, driving iconic wildlife such as African elephants toward extinction.
As of January 2018, it’s unlawful to ‘purchase, sell, offer for sale or possess with intent to sell’ any product which is ‘made of an animal part or byproduct’ from a number of animals.
These include any species of elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, pangolin, sea turtle, ray, mammoth, narwhal, walrus or hippopotamus – as well as lions of the species Panthera Leo.
It’s also illegal in Nevada to sell shark fin.
Even more concerning, investigators also found vendors and trophy hunting tour companies were selling ‘canned’ lion hunts, in which customers can pay to shoot a captive-bred African lion in an enclosed area from which it cannot escape.
Although, in South Africa, between 6000 and 80000 lions are bred and kept in captivity until they are sold to trophy hunt tour operators, canned hunts are internationally scorned.
So much so, SCI claims it does not allow them to be sold at its conventions.
Yet vendors allegedly showed investigators sample pictures of types of lions which may be killed, priced according to the age and size of the animal and his mane, in an attempt to attract bookings of canned hunts.
One canned hunt tour operator even told investigators he could special order ‘a really big lion’ should they want to kill one more sizeable for an extra fee.
Audrey Delsink, HSI/Africa Wildlife Director, told UNILAD the captive breeding of lions for trophy hunting is a ‘conservation and welfare disgrace’.
The animal activist muses the convention’s lack of ethics is driven by financial greed, adding:
The scope and range of products available at the convention demonstrates that when financial profit is involved, conservation laws are thrown out of the window, with no species – not even the extinct mammoth – being off-limits.
Delsink has condemned SCI’s ‘lack of enforcement’ and the members who continue to brazenly violate club policy, in promoting this ‘highly unethical practice’.
SCI members have been recorded to have killed at least 2,007 African lions, 1,888 African leopards, 791 African elephants, and 572 rhinos, 93 of which were critically endangered black rhinos, according to a 2015 HSI analysis of the club’s record book.
Block told UNILAD there’s ‘no place’ for trophy hunting in society today:
Making money off the opportunity to kill these animals for bragging rights is something that most people around the world find appalling.
It’s an elitist hobby of the one per cent, and there is no place for trophy hunting in today’s world.
As we learn more and more about the lives of these incredible animals, Block dubbed trophy hunting ‘a relic of the colonial past’, stating she believes ‘its time of acceptance has run out’.
The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International submitted its findings in writing to the Nevada Department of Wildlife on January 10, requesting investigation and enforcement of Nevada law.
Any person who violates this law is guilty of a gross misdemeanour for the first offence, a category E felony for a second offence, and a category D felony for a third offence, in addition to civil penalties of up to $6,500 (£5,024).
Yet, at this very moment, the Dallas Safari Club convention is underway in Dallas, Texas, where the Wildlife Trafficking Laws don’t cover the sale of the same goods prohibited in Nevada.
Some of the same vendors profiting from animal death will be peddling their wares in Dallas, and will be back with boxes of bones and relics of death next year, and the year after that, until this barbaric sport is stopped for good.
UNILAD has contacted SCI for comment and are awaiting response at the time of writing.
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A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.