Dear Olivia ‘I’m not a trophy hunter’ Opre,
I have just finished watching you on ‘This Morning’ and have just about finished drying my eyes. I am not easily brought to tears but witnessing the fact that there are actually people in this world who hold the same views as yourself I was left feeling devastated, disgusted, appalled, bewildered and mortified. Maybe I have been naive, maybe I just didn’t want to face the truths, but I truly thought that in this day and age people knew so much better and had a much better relationship with animals.
I was shocked at the shooting of Cecil the lion last year and could not comprehend why somebody would even want to spend £50k to kill such a magnificent animal. Not only that but if I had a spare fifty grand just lying around I sure as hell would put it to much better use, such as building homes and shelters for the people of Africa rather than taking away their wildlife. Oh, sorry, yes hang on, but you all believe that what you do is for conservation and that you are helping the people of Africa. Oh, of course, silly me, going out and shooting a 13-year-old lion is good because, according to you ‘conservationists’ (not trophy hunters), he was past his prime… my dog is now 14, should I be taking her out to the pasture and shooting her in the head?!! The whole idea that you are helping to ‘conserve’ our wildlife is laughable but also ignorant. As for the idea that you are helping the African towns be safer, there are already many national parks, barriers, wardens and procedures in place doing this. The African people like you doing it, but that is because it has always been their way of life. They merely see these animals as threats to their families and you are using this as an excuse for your killing sprees.
Listening to the wonderful Virginia McKenna speak was so moving, heartfelt and inspiring. She clearly stated to you that there are now only 20,000 lions left in the whole of Africa, so how exactly are you conserving the wildlife when really you are helping to move them closer to extinction?! Cecil left behind a pride and a new litter. With his death, as with all male lions deaths or evictions, a new male takes over and kills the cubs. These cubs were a lucky exception because Cecil’s brother was also part of the pride and therefore took on the role as leader and father. But if his brother hadn’t been there how many more lions would have died due to the knock on effect? Do you ever think that far ahead? One male lion’s death could, in fact, have led to six more!
Virginia set up the ‘Born Free Foundation’ after appearing as the lead role in the film ‘Born Free’. If you haven’t seen this film, Olivia, I suggest you do so immediately, maybe then you will get an insight of what conservation really is and how much passion there is out in the world from people wanting to protect species and prevent further extinction. If you don’t cry at this film I do not believe that you have a heart at all. I can’t even listen to the theme tune without welling up.
I watched Virginia’s eyes as you spoke and with each senseless explanation, I could see parts of her heart breaking. She has spent so many years battling against people like you and you sat there trying to tell her, and the nation, that what you do is spiritual. To take a life is not spiritual, it is murder. You may say that people eat your kills, but lions, elephants, antelope and rhinos are not exactly a part of your typical Sunday roast! Other people will find spirituality through meditation, being at one with the earth or praying. These people are calm, loving and truly care about our planet and our animals. I expect what you are mistaking for spirituality is grooming your own ego.
Let’s not skip over the fact that you do in fact have heads of animals stuffed and placed on your walls at home as decoration… or some may indeed say trophies! You insisted time and time again that you are not a trophy hunter but if that is the case why would you feel the need to hang dead animal’s heads around your home? Maybe to remember all the amazing conservation work you have achieved?! Maybe to touch their faces and feel spiritual?! Oh no, you call it ‘God’s artwork’ of course silly me, I thought art was photography, drawings, paintings, I am clearly mistaken. Do you know when it is truly artwork? When the heads are still attached to the bodies and the beautiful creatures are still alive, running across African plains and fields, being with their packs and pride.
It is not for any one of us to decide when a wild animal is past it’s prime. We are lucky enough to be a developed species who can humanely euthanase an animal in pain or distress, to provide them with medical care or to make painful decisions, even if it is for the best. Killing an animal who is able bodied, well, healthy and strong is hunting, is a game to you, is unjustified and is disgusting behaviour. You are NOT conserving any of these animals you are taking their lives and there is no other way to look at it. I hope for the future’s sake that nobody looks up to you as a role model, I can only look down upon you as scum. You truly believed every word you said and not once did you feel remorse for all the killings or the upset you may have been causing to all of us watching and, more importantly, to Virginia who has dedicated her life to saving innocent creatures. She is for me a true inspiration, a beautiful person and possibly one of the most caring and passionate animal rescue advocates out there.
You need to take a long hard look at life and work out what the reality really is because right now your viewpoint is not it. You ARE a trophy hunter, you ARE taking part in a blood sport (God I hate that term, in no way to me is killing a sport) and you ARE having a negative impact on the conversation of our wildlife.
Yours… I can’t finish that because there are no words