Hunting - Conservation or Disorder?

ob·ses·sive hunt·ing dis·or·der (uhb-ses-iv huhn-ting dis-awr-der) noun

A psychoneurotic disorder in which the person’s thoughts or feelings are dominated by persistent ideas or images of wild animals and the desire to pursue them for the purpose of catching or killing. These thoughts or actions interfere with normal functioning and cannot be voluntarily prevented or controlled; abbreviation OHD.

I’m not sure that OHD is part of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) but I wonder why it shouldn’t be…

The more I have thought about it over the years, the more I have considered strange people who hunt and find it pleasurable. There is something disturbing about the desire to terminate a creature’s life and take pleasure in doing so.

Even more disturbing is the need to sever the animal’s head, have it stuffed, and display it proudly in one’s home, as if there is something admirable about killing a creature from cover using a weapon against which it has no defences.

Serial killers also take trophies – body parts, items of clothing or things their victims used, so that each time they look at or touch the item, they are taken right back to the murder they committed and the pleasure they got from it. The correlation makes one think about the motives of those committing these acts, and I wonder whether hunters are really thinking about conservation when they kill what they themselves call ‘magnificent creatures’.  I’d rather take a photo to capture their splendour than end it with a bullet.

But now there is a growing form of hunting, and if ever there was a phenomenon exposing an underlying pathology, ‘canned lion’ hunting is it, because it is founded upon a number of lies.

The first lie is that the funds generated go to conservation – in actuality, they go to captive lion breeders and those who run facilities that enable people without hunting skills to shoot lions in a confined space so that they are easier to kill. The second lie is that this process is somehow justified because more lions are bred in captivity, as if this is the same as increasing the population of wild lions. The third lie is no doubt told by the hunter when telling others the story of the hunt, so as to bolster his or her self-esteem and gain the acceptance of peers.

The worst lie, however is that told by the hunter to themselves – that killing for pleasure is a valid expression of self-actuality, that one is somehow ‘better’ if one has killed a non-human animal. I wonder whether the human species needs to evolve in this direction, whether this adaptation is beneficial to the species, whether this behaviour is truly beneficial to anyone except the hunter’s ego. We no longer need to hunt; in fact, we don’t even need to eat meat. Of what use is this ethically dubious activity? Is this an attitude we need young people to look up to? Are hunters role models in any manner whatsoever?

I have worked with people who were hunters and I remember thinking, in every case, that they were morally weak people who were driven mainly by their own needs with little consideration for the emotions and needs of others. We use the term ‘psychopath’ to describe such people and I question whether we should allow them such free rein in our society. We should discourage their behaviour wherever possible, not support it because we lack the moral fibre to stand up to them.

I remember telling a hunter of the pictures and stories that arrived in my email on a daily basis, and that much of it was horrific and unsettling. His reply was typical of the disorder:

“I don’t want to know”

When choosing a companion, I’d prefer any of the victims to such cowardice. Real men don’t kill the defenceless, they defend them.

One has to have a mental disorder not to see that.


Derek du Toit