A Letter to the National Geographic Editor

Yes, I did just send this over to National Geographic (well, sans meme) in response to this item that ran yesterday.  It’s complete crap.

conservation ur doing it wrong

I was bewildered by yesterday’s “African Lions Should Not be Listed as Endangered” opinion piece.

“Is the condition of the lion really that dire?” the author asks.  Well, let’s see.  As of data from December 2012, African lions had lost 68% of their population in the last 50 years.  By National Geographic’s own admission, lions are “dying off rapidly” and populations have “blinked out across the continent.”  Lions used to roam as far north as the Mid-East and India; they roamed North and South America 10,000 years ago.  Today they live in small pockets in Africa.  This is all completely acceptable to the Safari Club, which claims “promoting wildlife conservation” as half of its mission.  Right.

The author then employs some interesting logic as she explains how trophy hunters are actually doing great work supporting African conservation efforts and generating money for communities.  It is good that there is a silver lining to trophy hunters’ lust for blood, and I would commend the Safari Club were their motives not so pathetically transparent.  Because the first half of the organization’s mission is “protecting the freedom to hunt,” and it’s not hard to see that their noble concern for wildlife and struggling communities is only to build goodwill and bargaining power pursuant to that goal.  Trophy hunters do not get to pat themselves on the back as heroes of conservation and humanitarianism as they clip off members of the earth’s dwindling lion population.

In the end, the biggest question here isn’t the degree to which lions are endangered, or the true motives of the Safari Club.  The question is why National Geographic permitted itself to be a platform for trophy hunters’ agenda.  The Safari Club is not hurting for money, or membership, or publicity– there is no shortage of outlets they could use to peddle their rubbish.

I understand the piece was run as an opinion, but I do hope National Geographic will consider being more discerning in the future.  The vulnerable species of the world have enough factors working against them, it’s a sad day when National Geographic is one of them.


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