There has been some collective outrage this week on social media sites as big ‘game’ hunters publish their victory selfies. Posing next to the recently murdered corpse of an animal is at the very least tasteless, in my opinion. I had also thought that hunting was the domain of poachers but it seems it is a leisure activity enjoyed by the wealthy who pay large sums of money to bag a prize specimen. It isn’t without risk of course as a story broke this week testifies to a professional hunter and tracker being trampled by the bull elephant they had been stalking.
There isn’t anything like big game in the UK but there are seasons for hunting certain animals like deer, and ‘game’ birds like pheasant and grouse. Hare coursing is outright banned, while rabbits, hares and foxes can be hunted all year round except for a reprieve for all but the foxes on Sundays and Christmas day – bizarre.
There are 45,000 hunt members in the UK, according to the Countryside Alliance, and 186 dog packs recognised by the Master of Foxhounds Association, so fox hunting is still popular among those that take pleasure or prestige from such activities even though the Hunting Act of 2004 restricts pack dogs to stalking and ‘flushing out’, not the kill. This is done by gun or bird of prey. Boxing Day meets are big events and flush out hunt supporters who are striving to overturn the legislation and allow dogs to complete the kill. Last year a staggering 250,000 supporters turned out. That’s a quarter of the number of people who turned out in London in 2003 to protest against the Iraq war!
This all has very little to do with a vegan diet, but it does have a lot to do with the discussion around the role of non-human animals in entertainment, and the persecution of a single animal for pleasure either by a professional hitman, aka hunter, or by a group of well-bred horses and riders and their baying hounds..