It’s funny what prompts a memory….
It’s a moment where we all agree – we’re all deeply saddened by that Cecil-killing dentist. I still struggle to understand what jollies anyone would get from taking down an animal like that. There’s not much sport in launching an arrow into a magnificent beast whilst it’s feasting on an elephant carcass that’s been dragged out of the national park as bait. But then, I’m not much of a hunter.
You could argue lots of things about Walter Palmer and Theo “I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong” Bronkhurst, and I can’t think of any that’d land them in the high moral ground category. I understand hunting, and I certainly understand culling where warranted to keep an ecology balanced, but this was different.
Something must have happened to the dentist to make him want to kill majestic animals like this. If it’s true that he asked to bag a huge bull elephant afterward, then whatever it was in his past, it can’t have been good. Either that or he’s feeling ripped off about the size of his penis and he’s trying to make up for it.
But it is strange what triggers a memory.
I haven’t had much cause to think back to a trip to Africa last century. The reminders have all been given away: the six-foot wooden giraffe no longer watches us from the corner of the living room, and the girls over the back fence are the new owners of our African animal tea set. Weirdly, I bought a bike home from that trip, too. Gone now, rusted.
But I’ll never forget a story we heard around a campfire in Botswana. There’s no reason not to believe it’s true.
Our guide said to us in a magnificently hard South African accent, ‘Have you heard of Ted Turner? The guy from CNN?’
Of course we had. At the time he was the richest man on the planet.
‘Well I took him hunting. For lion.’ We were sitting around a fire under a blanket of stars. From time to time lions would huff or roar in the distance. They were from a pride we’d been tracking for much of the day without success, but our guide had filled us with hope, showing us footprints and reasons to believe we’d find them soon enough.
‘So Turner’s got this gun, see? It’s massive. Telescopic sights, laser maybe. It had everything on board, and all I’ve got is my Lee Enfield .303 with the old fashioned sights. Primitive, but deadly. We had no truck, just walked, for three days. It was hot as hell, and I told him to wait and I’d find a lion and come get him, but he wouldn’t have it. He wanted to be in the hunt, too.’
And at the time he was telling us, we’re sitting around this campfire as a lion made himself known in the distance, ‘Phooff! Phooff!”