Saturday, August 15, 2009

Another 'Conservation' Clown

Another 'Conservation' Clown

It make good TV...of course it does? More gullible viewers are sucked into believing that people (big brave people) must be more knowledgeable and conservation minded if they enter enclosures with large cats or crocodiles. It is bad enough that it takes place in captivity without some clown taking up the persecution of large cats in the wild.

I could not agree more with PANTHERA on this Animal Planet production.

Dave Salmoni: Tormenting Lions for TV

This week, Animal Planet kicked off the latest offering from likable Steve Irwin-wannabe Dave Salmoni. "Into The Pride" follows Salmoni as he attempts to prove that humans can live in harmony with wild lions. To do so, Dave scoots around the Namibian bush on a quad-bike looking for a close encounter with the big cats. You might think a 4-wheeler doesn't offer much protection but, provided they're not hunted or persecuted, lions quickly get used to vehicles. A vehicle acts just like a mobile hide which is why millions of people a year are able to enjoy extraordinary experiences watching wild lions from the safety of their safari jeeps and mini-vans in Africa's great game parks. It even works with ATVs which disrupt the human silhouette sufficiently that Salmoni is on fairly safe ground -- so long as he keeps his distance and stays on the bike. The problem is, that's not daring enough for Dangerous Dave. When he finds the lions, he dismounts and, armed only with his shepherd's cane, he walks up to them.

Understandably and predictably, the lions get pissed off. In one sequence from the series, Salmoni pulls this stunt with a lioness called Cleo, resting with the pride's cubs and a gemsbok kill. Now, if someone asked me, how would I go out of my way to really aggravate a lioness, I'd tell them "threaten her when she is protecting her cubs. Or a carcass. Or, if you were an utterly self-absorbed ignoramus, both." Cleo does what a million years of evolution have engineered her to do when faced with potential danger to her cubs -- she charges. Dave shrieks a bit, high-tails it back to the ATV and scolds Cleo for her "inappropriate behavior." Of course, it's actually wholly appropriate -- any wild lioness so gratuitously provoked is apt to do the same. Once he's back on the bike, Cleo relaxes a little and backs off. Predictably, that only encourages this bushveld buffoon to try his luck again, and, again, Cleo comes like a tawny missile. She is upset, frightened and angry -- all thanks to Salmoni who is determined to show us that, as he recently told People magazine, he was 'tougher than they were'.

What self-indulgent baloney. Salmoni repeatedly tells us his antics are necessary because these are aggressive problem lions that must be habituated for eco-tourism or they will be destroyed. That would be reasonable if he stayed with his vehicle, just as tourists, researchers, scientists, guides and park rangers do every day across Africa. None of these folks wander up to lions hoping to get cozy (well, occasionally they do but the ending usually isn't pretty). If Salmoni was honest and respectful about habituating lions for tourists, he'd get them used to vehicles -- it's safer for both human and lion, and it wouldn't provoke the same distressed fury from Cleo. Ironically, most of the first episode is taken up with encounter after encounter between Dave .............

1 comment:

  1. Really, the only people to blame would be Animal Planet who in the name of entertainment - and this is what this is, encourages the inappropriate human behavior. (I told the Animal Planet people so when I met them in Singapore about Croc Hunter)

    Imagine, the outcry if this was done in a zoo by a zoo keeper. "We just want to get the lions used to visitors" . IFAW, IPPL, SPCA, PETA etc etc. would be done like a megaton of bricks.

    Well I suppose eventually, he will get into the pride via way of their bellies.