UPDATE: Zimbabwe official responds to allegations of illegal hunting by Eric and Donald Trump Jr. Click here for more info.
Donald Trump has made no secret how he feels about hunting — suffice to say, his reality show won’t be on our TVs anytime soon.
His sons, however, seem to revel in it, as photos of a recent African safari show Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump posing with several animals they’d shot in Zimbabwe, including a leopard (left), a near 13-foot crocodile and an elephant.
Some of the photos are, well, unpleasant to those anti-hunters; those of us used to a little blood aren’t as turned off at the sight of Don Jr. holding a severed elephant’s tail.
But of course, there’s always someone who gets offended, and wouldn’t you know it, PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk blasted the Trump brothers on The Huffington Post.
“Well, now, if they ate the whole cheetah, I’ll eat my hat,” Newkirk writes in response to the Trumps’ assertion that they harvest and eat all the meat from their kills, and misidentifying a leopard as a cheetah. “And if they did, my hat won’t kill me, but chances are the cheetah liver contains enough vitamin A to kill them, which might just improve the gene pool.” Classy.
Newkirk further asserted that the Trumps would have been better off donating money to the less fortunate in Africa so that they may plant crops and provide food “for years.” Well what a novel idea. Why hasn’t anyone thought of that before? Maybe it’s the scorching, parched climate, or the warlords vying for control across the continent, murdering and plundering everything in their path. I can’t possibly imagine why that idea has never, ever been implemented in Africa before. Puzzling, isn’t it?
Of course, no one should be surprised at PETA’s disgust toward the safari; Newkirk has stated, after all, that she would oppose the cure for AIDS if it meant animal experimentation.
But in the ensuing weeks, the story has taken an interesting turn.
The Associated Press has reported that the brothers are under investigation by Zimbabwe authorities, who allege the Trumps illegally used dogs while hunting the leopard; the practice of using dogs in hunting is allowed in few areas of Africa, but in accordance with Zimbabwe’s Wildlife Act of 2000, the practice is forbidden unless special authority is given in certain circumstances.
Furthermore, authorities are sifting through paperwork to be sure the hunt — which was organized by a South African firm — was legally cleared by the Zimbabwe government, and if all license and trophy fees were paid, and the brothers’ claims of donating the meat is also being investigated, as there are no villages in the district where the hunts took place.
If found guilty of the infractions, the brothers and the hunt organizers face imprisonment or fines up to $500,000.
The plot thickens.
Assuming everything was done legally, that the Trumps’ assertions of ethical hunting and donating the meat are true, then we have absolutely no qualms with this hunt. After all, everyone knows such hunts are physically tolling — this ain’t a stroll through the woods, folks.
However, as ethical hunters, we should all acknowledge and respect local hunting laws, no matter whether we agree with them or not. If the Trumps really broke several game laws during the safari, then we have no choice but to cry foul as well. Only time will tell whether the Trumps were justified, or if they were truly in the wrong.
What do you think? Should the Trump brothers be criticized for their African hunt?