An animal rights group has asked CNN to stop airing a documentary about hunters and the trophies they get from killing big game animals.
Some of the shocking images are difficult to watch, others should have never aired because the scenarios which played out in the film should not have been allowed to occur in the first place.
The documentary Trophy had its debut on CNN on Jan 14. Some of the controversial footage include:
- An American hunter talking about how God created animals for people to have dominion over, crying tears of joy after killing an unsuspecting lion and countless other endangered species including an elephant
- A live blindfolded rhino having his horns sawed off for profit.
- A hunter cheered on by his group after shooting an elephant who lies nearby moaning in pain and dying.
Peace 4 Animals’ and World Animal Network want CNN to stop re-airing the documentary, according to WAN’s official Kate Cleary.
“The time is critical, we have another five years left before we may lose the big 5 in Africa to poaching and trophy hunting altogether, we must act now the try and save these species before it’s too late. The real people who are working hard to save these animals are those on the front lines of the fight, the anti-poaching units on the ground in Africa, and the animal welfare organizations fighting behind them. We must put our efforts toward supporting them, not the people who kill these animals for so-called “sport” or profit,” stated Cleary.
Filmmakers Shaul Schwarz’s and Christina Clusiau describe Trophy as an documentary examining the complex heart of contemporary issues of animal conservation and commodification at a time when endangered African species such as elephants, rhinos and lions march ever closer to extinction.
Trophy is a follow-up to Schwarz’s filmed Narco Cultura. The film takes viewers across lush African forests and vast plains and into the world’s largest hunters’ convention in Las Vegas to meet breeders and hunters who passionately believe in animal conservation. A common mantra of these businesses – “if it pays, it stays” – sums up the controversial notion that if you assign monetary value to an animal, it is worth protecting.
Trophy follows Philip Glass, a Texas-based sheep breeder and life-long hunter who is on a quest to collect the “Big Five” (elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, and rhino). Philip is deeply connected to the land and animals.
He spends days or weeks tracking animals in their natural environment before getting his kill. He considers himself a conservationist, and believes the dollars he spends hunting in Africa go back to local communities and help preserve the animals he covets for future generations. This is an argument echoed in the work of Chris Moore, a Zimbabwean wildlife officer whose anti-poaching campaign is partially subsidized by big-game hunters like Philip. Chris works with government authorities and communities to keep people safe from wild animals. He also protects those animals from ruthless poachers. The great irony of Chris’s work is that he goes to “extreme lengths” to protect endangered animals, only to have them killed by trophy hunters.
Trophy also enters the world of ranched hunting through businessman and self-confessed animal lover Christo Gomes.
Gomes is the owner of Mabula Pro Safaris in South Africa, which offers all-inclusive guided safaris for hunters from across the world. For $25,000 to $100,000 a hunter can shoot, kill and bring home a great African animal “trophy.”
For Christo, the big money comes from specialty breeding that services the tastes and trends of wealthy hunters. About 70% of Christo’s business comes from American hunting clients.
The documentary also follows and interviews John Hume, the world’s largest private rhino breeder. Hume believes that legalization of the trade in rhino horn is the only way to save the rhino from extinction.
Every two years, he trims his rhinos’ horns and has stockpiled over 5 tons of horn. He has invested $50 million of his life savings into the project and now has nearly 1500 rhino. Hume is a controversial figure and a frequent target of animal rights groups.