Cecil the Lion may be rolling over in his grave. His killer’s group, Safari Club International, is auctioning off more lion hunts this weekend. The city of Las Vegas is playing host to the world’s largest trophy hunting organization. Safari Club International’s annual convention will auction permits for hunting lions, bears, elephants, and other wildlife. Approximately 20,000 attendees are expected to attend the “Ultimate Hunters’ Market.”
“Cecil died in vain,” bemoans Salon. The club will offer chances to kill at least 600 animals in 32 countries, including those within Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Seventy-seven of the hunts will take place within the U.S. The Independent reports that the “Pay to Slay” club is expected to draw 20,000 bidders during the five-day Las Vegas event (February 3-6), as well as additional online buyers. Last year, the club earned $2.7 million from the auction of 317 hunts.
The convention offers a visual feast for big-game hunters as well as wannabes, with a smorgasbord of taxidermy, and vendors offering a host of camo gear, knives, safes, and, of course, guns. (Shoppers looking for a “P2PX Hunting Fool Sniper” can pick one up here for only $7,800.)
For those seeking an education, seminars are offered throughout the course of the convention. Among the topics this year are:
- Increase the Chances You Come Back Alive After Your Next Hunt
- Improving Your Long-Range Shooting
- Planning and Designing Your Trophy Room
- Encouraging Women to Pull a Trigger (Yes… Seriously.)
The main course in this banquet of sportsmen’s delights is the auctions. The selection includes Alaskan brown bears, lions, and elephants. The bidding price often includes accommodations, meals, guide service, trophy fee, and field prep. Some include fees for taxidermy.
Each hunt can easily run into five or six figures. For instance, a 10-day Alaska brown bear and black bear hunt for two hunters and two observers has a starting price of $80,500.
According to the auction description, “Included are luxury accommodations, gourmet meals prepared by a 5 star chef, beer and wine, trophy fee for one black bear and one brown bear for each hunter, guide service and field prep. Additional hunters cost $27,800; non-hunters $5,500. Not included are any before/after hunt expenses, licenses/tags ($1,000/hunter), USFS land use fee ($300/hunter), dipping/packing and shipping and gratuities.”
Or one can bid on a 21-day Tanzania safari for two, for $85,000.
“Species that may be available to hunt during this safari are lion, leopard and numerous plains game species….Included are air-conditioned tent accommodations, meals, guide service and field prep. Not included are any before/after hunt expenses, trophy fees for animals taken or wounded, license ($7,500), air charter ($2,700 approx.), dip/pack/ship and gratuities.”
The Independent states that the convention is expected to raise over 2.5 million, “most of which is used to lobby Washington.”
Wendy Higgins, of Humane Society International, said, “The auction site reads like a grotesque killing-for-kicks catalogue, in which the lives of the precious wildlife are sold to the highest bidder so that they can be slaughtered for fun.”
Naturally, this event has animal rights activists frothing at the mouth. This is in part because, aside from being the world’s largest trophy hunting club, one of the most famous members of Safari Club International is the internationally despised Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer. In July 2015, Palmer incited worldwide outrage by luring the much-loved lion (the subject of an Oxford University research project) named Cecil out of a protected game area and then killing him. Palmer then proceeded to cut Cecil’s head off, apparently disregarding the fact that the animal was wearing a GPS collar.
Cecil the Lion became the subject of an emotional rant by Jimmy Kimmel, who described the whole situation as “vomitous.”
“Is it that difficult for you to get an erection that you need to kill things?”
Palmer was suspended from SCI and made a public apology. The Humane Society reported that he has since been reinstated, since Zimbabwe only charged his guide with the illegal killing of Cecil. Palmer, the Humane Society adds, was trying to achieve SCI’s African “Big 5” award for killing a lion, a southern white rhino, a cape buffalo, an elephant, and a leopard.
Cecil’s death has cast new light on trophy hunting, and the controversy rages on.
Care2 is hosting a petition to stop the auction.
As Kimmel pointed out, folks can support Oxford’s study of wildlife, by going to the Oxford Gift Page and selecting “WildCRU.”
[Cecil the Lion’s Photo via Shutterstock]