Thursday, 19 April 2012

Cool or cruel?

A while ago I came across this post on someone else's blog. The post was showing off the taxidermied giraffe head and neck that the blogger's hunter husband had shot, and they are now displaying in their house.

I want to add in at this point that I have never read this blog before, so my impressions are simply going on the content of this post and the comments people have left on it.

The blogger stated that she had been told that the giraffe had had a long life and was "on its last leg", and that its meat was donated to some tribespeople. Fair enough that the meat had been given to people who would make use of it once the animal had died, which is entirely what I think should be done as it shouldn't go to waste if someone else can make use of it. What I can't understand is how saying "oh it was old so it was probably going to die soon anyway" is justification for it being hunted and killed. How did the hunter know when it was going to die? And why did he think he had the right to decide when the poor creature should die, and that he should be the one who takes its life? It should have been allowed to live out its life to full term and die naturally. I'd be interested to find out what he does with the bits that he doesn't want from the rest of his kills.

However, what shocked me the most was not the content of the post itself, but the comments left on it. Some were along the lines of "wow, that's awesome, I want one" but there were a lot that said something like "that's cruel, but it's soooo cute!!!" There were also a lot of comments saying "my husband is a hunter too and I've told him we're never having deer heads on display in our house, but now I really want a giraffe head!".

Erm... is it just me that thinks when you find something cruel that kind of rules out any chance of it also being cute? If you think it's cruel, why would you want it on display in your home? And what's the difference between the head of a deer and the head of a giraffe?! They're both animals, and they're both in the same order (Artiodactyla), so they're not completely separate from each other. If anything, isn't hunting a giraffe worse? Their population numbers are much lower than population numbers of deer, they're longer-lived and they aren't as widespread.

Regardless, why should a human be allowed to take the life of an animal purely for enjoyment? Fair enough if people are hunting for food that they need to survive, or to control population numbers for conservation, or to protect themselves from animals that are endangering their lives, but simply going out and shooting animals for fun and for a trophy to take home is something I can never agree with. Surely the animal was much more beautiful alive and out in its natural habitat than it is dead, stuffed and eternally static. Or is it because it's unusual and you can say that hardly anyone else has one that makes it an attractive item to have?

I know there are private reserves where animals are bred purely to be hunted, but I still don't think that makes it right. Yes, it's better than illegal poaching and/or killing an animal that's "in the wild", but it's still taking the life of an animal for the sake of it and simply for the hunter's own pleasure. And there's a whole debate about whether having a legal element to otherwise illegal activities (e.g. hunting on reserves where the animals are bred for hunting, allowing trade in legally harvested products brings down the amount of illegal hunting that occurs, or whether it actually increases it... (see here (elephants and rhinos), here (tigers), here (rhinos) and here (a variety of species, and a brief explanation of CITES) for examples, but there's hundreds more brought up through a quick Google search).

I don't know, maybe I'm just overreacting. And maybe it's because I'm doing a degree in Zoology that I have a lot more respect for and understanding of animals, and can see the reasons why killing one animal often has further repercussions that aren't obvious to people that don't have a knowledge of animal science. Or maybe I'm not in the minority and there are a lot of other people that feel the same was I do...?

I'd be very interested in hearing other people's thoughts on the issue, so please leave a comment!


  1. I think that's so cruel! But I eat meat and while I'd never wear fur I do wear leather. I think it's horrible to kill an animal just to display it in your house but then I suppose it's equally bad to kill a cow to wear on your feet. On the other hand, a lot of animals hunted for sport are endangered species so it is worse although no less cruel than breeding them to be killed for food or leather. I guess I feel like a hypocrite if you get what I mean?
    Just found your blog and I love it, think it's really unique and interesting. Refreshing to read things other than outfit posts! xxx

    1. I can completely understand what you mean - I think it's really difficult to define the difference between killing animals for sport vs killing animals so we can use parts of them, and killing animals full stop. If an animal is bred for food then it makes it feel more "right" than killing it for sport, but then it also brings up the issue of it being cruel to bring an animal into existence purely so it can be killed for human consumption... it's a tough one, I could debate it with other people and even with myself for days.

      Thanks for following my blog :). There are so many blogs out there that are full of outfit and makeup review posts, and neither of those are really my thing (I'm very much a jeans, t-shirt and hoodie kind of girl, and the only makeup I wear is mascara haha) so I like making my blog a bit different from the rest.

  2. Just found your blog, I live in Cornwall too! I hate animal cruelty of any kind, and I think that it is cruel to hunt. At the end of the day who says that humans have a right to use animals for food, clothing and entertainment? xx

  3. Yay, another Cornishwoman! Sadly I won't be living in Cornwall for much longer, I have to leave at the beginning of July because I'll no longer be a student and won't have a job so I can't afford to live anywhere other than back at home with my mum :(. I haven't ruled out the possibility of moving back here in the future though, it's such a beautiful place to live.

    I've just checked out your blog and I'm now following :). It's really nice to see product reviews that take into account the ethical background of the products - a factor which is lacking from literally every other product review blog I've seen!