We're right to be shocked by Melissa Bachman's photo with a hunted lion

To pretend that hunting somehow helps animal populations is as laughable as saying that killing people is a solution to world hunger

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Melissa Bachman's sickening grin photographed behind the corpse of a slain lion is an image that you might have a hard time putting out of your mind, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that behind those unnaturally white teeth is a person without moral fibre. Maybe she lacked love as a child, but for whatever reason, there appears to be a deep-seated insecurity underlying what Bachman does for a living and what others who shoot animals and then pose next to their lifeless bodies do for “pleasure”.

Hunting is cruel and completely devoid of sportsmanship. It takes no courage or character to stalk and kill trapped animals. In their natural Savannah home, lions roam many miles of territory, hunt, raise their young and avoid all contact with people. But on hunting ranches, they can easily be cornered. They stand no chance of escaping, fighting back or surviving. Many of these animals are hand-raised on game ranches and are accustomed to the presence of humans. It's common for them to trot trustingly in front of hunters for a handout of food. Instead, what they get is a merciless death.

Many of these ironically named "conservancies" operate according to a "no-kill, no-pay" policy, so it's often in an owner's financial interests to ensure that clients get what they came for. Owners offer guides who are familiar with the animals' locations and habits. They also permit the use of dogs and supply feeding stations that lure unsuspecting animals to food while hunters lie in wait. The animals are practically led right to the person with the gun.

It's clear from Bachman's boasting and photographs that she has no qualms about assassinating her way through a virtual litany of species, including zebras, alligators, bears and other animals. But believe it or not, many self-proclaimed hunters – including the two millionaire sons of Donald Trump and the CEO of Go Daddy, Bob Parsons – try to justify their pathetic pastimes on the grounds of conservation. To pretend that hunting somehow helps animal populations is as laughable as saying that killing people is a solution to world hunger. The fact is that hunters are responsible for wiping out populations of animals, such as the Tasmanian tiger.

Left alone, animal populations regulate their own numbers based on the availability of food and secure habitat. The enormous sums of money often spent on African hunting trips would be better spent if they were applied toward building a new school or hospital or planting an orchard. Any of these things would have a lasting positive effect on the surrounding African villages and would be far preferable to patronising locals by relegating them to the role of hunting guide to spoiled, bored Western tourists.

Maybe the public backlash against her revolting photos will help Bachman realise that dressing up like a Laura Croft wannabe, slaughtering wildlife and then posing for photos does not make her a strong and powerful woman but, in fact, quite the opposite. Real strength lies in protecting those who are weaker than oneself. As Thomas Edison stated more than a hundred years ago, "Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages".

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