Lion Spy: The heroine risks her life to save the pride of the wealthy hunters | Nature | New

GAME OVER: Undercover filmmaker Rogue Rubin sits with a lioness (Picture: handout)

Dr Paul Funston, Regional Director for Southern Africa of Panthera, an organization dedicated to the conservation of the world’s wild cats, explains the problem: “We should be very concerned about wild lions. They are much more endangered than the nobody noticed it.

“We have seen an 81% decline in wild lions over the past 21 years. Without a shadow of a doubt, the biggest predators of the wild lion are human beings.”

It is estimated that if slaughter continues at the current rate, the animals could be extinct within five years.

The greatest threat to the existence of wild lions is trophy hunters, 64% of whom are American.

They exterminate 19,000 wild animals a year in Africa.

Working alongside Southern Africa’s 1,200 professional big game hunters, these men – and they are almost all men – can pay up to $64,000 for the “privilege” of killing a wild lion. (It can cost them up to $400,000 to shoot the even more endangered rhino).

But that’s not the only threat to wild lions. They are also threatened by hunters who want to use their body parts in medicine and soups in the Far East. It is this demand that has already practically wiped out the wild tiger.

The details of a hunt may surprise many. Sometimes hunters start by killing a hippopotamus to use as bait for lions.

Following a kill, corpses are cleaned of all blood, so the hunter can pose next to a supported dead animal that still looks alive. This is also the reason why lions never get shot in the head, but suffer a slower and more painful death from repeated blows in the body.

Hunters could then pay a taxidermist $50,000 to have their “trophies” stuffed and mounted. It is a subject that arouses strong emotions.

When Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, shot and beheaded a famous lion called Cecil during a legal hunt in Zimbabwe in 2015, it made headlines and caused outrage around the world. On his US chat show, Jimmy Kimmel went on a tearful rant at Palmer, asking, “Why are you shooting a lion? How fun is that?”

The aptly named South African-born filmmaker Rogue Rubin was also outraged.

She was so horrified that these people were getting away with jeopardizing the wild lion’s future, that she decided to intervene – at the risk of her life.

“If we can’t save and protect one of the most iconic animals on the planet, what hope does a species have?” she asks.

The filmmaker goes on to stress the urgency of her mission: “No amount of money will bring the lion back once he’s gone.”

The route Snape took to solve the problem was hazardous: “I knew they would never accept a liberal vegetarian girl. So I did what any rational young woman would do: I went undercover. deep in Africa with men who kill for pleasure.”

Settling down with a new fake name, social media accounts and website, she meticulously created a fake persona as a professional big game hunting photographer.

She then went undercover in this top-secret industry, working for a hunting safari company in southern Africa.

The results of his efforts can be seen in Lion Spy – The Hunt For Justice, a new documentary available on digital platforms from tomorrow. In the film Rogue, who in person is as charming as his subject is shocking, reveals many of the most inhuman aspects of this activity.

Snape Rubin with a lion cub

Snape Rubin with a lion cub (Picture: handout)

Lion Spy points out that this particular example of the eternal “man versus beast” struggle is not a fair fight. For all its awesome power, a lion is no match for a firefight from mighty guns.

After witnessing a particularly brutal hunt, Snape angrily confides in his camera: “We just hunted the lion, and the lion didn’t even roar. This is all a prank. The lion had no It wasn’t a It was an execution In another incident, a hunter openly discusses whether to use the skin of the giraffe he just shot to line his stairs.

Infiltrating this business is risky business. Snape puts himself in serious danger. As she delves deeper into the murky underground world of trophy hunting, alone with bloodthirsty, armed men in the remotest African bush, she soon realizes that if she is scolded, she will also can be killed.

Yet, with an admirable black humor, she is able to laugh about it now.

“I did everything mom told me not to do,” she smiles.

“You’re always told not to get in a car with strangers. Well, I was getting in a car with a stranger with a loaded gun.” Rogue, 32, who has a large tattoo of a lion’s head on her shoulder, isn’t too proud to admit she was downright terrified at times while undercover.

The fact that his true identity could be discovered at any time also gives the film an inherent tension. Viewers will constantly wonder, “What if she was discovered? All hell could break loose.”

A case in point is the first time Snape went to meet the professional hunter she would work for.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘You really are crazy! You have a moment before you meet him and what you should do is run away.’

Later, following another murder, the filmmaker says, “Death was all around me. I thought, ‘I’m in over my head.’ I had embarked.”

So what motivates these hunters? The answer is simple: machismo. Debby Thompson, conservation expert with Bushveld Connections, explains: “The lion is the iconic symbol of Africa, and for some reason there is this mistaken belief that you are not a man until you are have not killed a lion. Why do American men feel the need to put down a lion to prove that he is really worth something in this life?

Snape intervenes. “Hunting gives people a sense of power and control.

“It’s about man having power over the beast and over the planet.”

Others believe that hunters are motivated by boredom. Marnus Roodbol, the founder of the organization Walking for Lions, says: “People who come here to hunt are bored. I’ve found that people do the weirdest things when they’re bored. They have too much money, and it’s a massive void they’re trying to fill.”

Experts warn that if the world doesn’t act quickly, there may not be any wild lions left to cherish. Panthera’s Dr. Paul Funston asks, “What is the moral basis? Do we accept something just because it makes money? We are caught in a trap 22. Do we accept such an abomination or do we say no? “

Debby also highlights the seriousness of the crisis: “What is Africa without wild animals? They are Africa. .

“We’re at this breaking point where if we don’t do something, and we don’t change it soon, we’re going to lose an iconic species.”

Even today, Snape fears retaliation: “I would prefer not to be shot and I consider that a real risk.”

Nonetheless, she thinks it was worth it, as she brought this vital story to the world’s attention. She hopes her documentary will inspire people across the planet to do their part to save the wild lion from extinction.

Fighting back tears, Snape states, “I’m putting my physical and mental health on the line – I have to stop myself from crying here – to try and save the wild lion.”

And the filmmaker launched a rallying cry: “Africa is a poor continent which does not have the means to protect its fauna by itself.

“But we are all responsible for the future of the lions and have an obligation to save the next Cecil.

“Lions have never been so endangered. Fewer than 20,000 lions remain in the wild.”

She concludes with a dire warning: “We all need to act now. We don’t have the luxury of time.”

Lion Spy – The Hunt For Justice is available on digital platforms from tomorrow

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