Despite what sensationalized wildlife specials on TV would have you believe, survival in the wild is not that much different than the way it is in civilized society.
While there isn’t an exact definition per se, most people in the U.S. would probably agree that “surviving successfully” is usually at least having enough food and water to live, protecting yourself adequately from nature and her destructive ways, and whenever possible, protecting your family and loved ones. Animals survive in the same way. They hunt for food when they need to eat, they build shelters to survive harsh winters and sweltering summers, and they will do anything to protect those they care about.
Once you truly accept this reality, the ideology of poaching and trophy hunting seems so ridiculous. Essentially, poachers believe that for some reason they are above animals and will always be able to outsmart them and their survival instincts. Well, as a group of poachers in Zimbabwe recently found out, this is not always the case.
Even though hunting is outlawed within the national parks of Zimbabwe, ten men were illegally hunting for elephants last month within the park’s boundaries when they stumbled upon twenty adult Southwest African lions. The pride of lions were not exactly, you know, expecting human visitors, so they immediately attacked the intruders. The attack was so instantaneous that five of the ten men were killed, three severely injured, and two lightly injured. The animals were mostly unhurt. The men who survived the attack ran to a nearby village for medical help where they were promptly arrested. Ah, karma!
“The men were visibly traumatized by the attack,” said Commissioner-General Chihuri,“and after seeing their injuries and the remains of their dead comrades, I can see why. These guys were tough criminals carrying ak-47s, but they were literally shred to pieces and devoured by the lions. I have never seen an animal attack reach this level of violence, and I have seen a lot!”
Chihuri’s statement highlights the idiocy of poaching. Equipped with guns and plenty of ego, these men, and all others who poach, trek into nature with a feeling of invincibility unparalleled in nature. While, yes, humans have succeeded countless times at killing animals, there is no guarantee that they will succeed every time. Wild animals may not have had the same technological advancements as humans but they do have one thing that can never be taken from them – an instinct to survive.
This pride of lions attacked the way they would attack anyone – zebra, giraffe, rhino, human – it’s all the same to them. At the end of the day, it is simply someone trying to harm their family. The African lion is endangered due to rampant poaching and trophy hunting and may very well go extinct within our lifetime if something is not done. While this incident is tragic in that lives were lost, the fact is that had this gone “according to plan” lives would have still been lost, simply the other way around.
What’s really tragic is that this whole ordeal could have been avoided if these men had respected the Parks and Wildlife Act and kept out of park. Instead, they will wait to appear in court where they face sentences of up to 25 years in jail and fines of up to $100,000. We hope that the deaths of these men are not in vain and that they at least serve as a spark that encourages poachers to ask themselves: is this all really worth it?