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The Burden of Proof

Tuesday 9th August 2011

The Burden of Proof

In court, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution to prove a defendant guilty. Before that, the defendant is presumed innocent. This we all know, and this process has been used by trophy hunters in general, and those who hunt lions in particular, as a convenient escape clause. They say – prove that we are wrong, with data and graphs and figures. Unless you can, we are innocent of all charges, and will continue as usual.

But when we provide the evidence asked for, the hunters say -  we will ignore it. Despite the evidence that communities are not benefiting from the hunting operators being provided enormous tracts of land in Africa, despite the clear evidence that lion trophy hunting is damaging and harmful to the species, despite the fact that a species in great decline should not be hunted for sport  -  lion hunting should continue because we trophy hunters say it is our justified right.

Nowhere along the line, except here, has anyone stood up to say - shift the burden of proof. If you want to continue to hunt lions, prove to those who doubt it is a conservation measure that it is indeed and actually a positive force for lions. Prove that beyond reasonable doubt, and don’t bring in “scientists” with vested interests who say that lions roam across 94% of Tanzania. Require such data to be subjected to peer review and to be published in scientific journals that demand a statement from the authors that they actually had no vested interests. Authors are also required to truthfully list their sources of funding, so such “scientists” will be doubly revealed.

We have provided plenty of evidence for the jury to evaluate. Many on this site will be minded by ethics, and that is understandable. Ethics and morality will continue to play a major role in the evaluation of trophy hunting. But that does not mean we are all tedious bunny hugging extremists as the hunting community would like to convince the world to believe. Nor should we believe that all hunters are all mindless killers whose only goal in life is to mount a lion trophy in their game room. Ethical hunting, “fair chase” and conservation are after all what their organizations espouse? Or does that all go out the window when the individual hunter steps off the plane in Africa?  SCI says “never apologize”. US Admiral Farragut  in 1864 said “Damn the torpedoes – full speed ahead”. Sarah Palin says “Never retreat – reload”. Messages seemingly taken to heart by hunters? 

We and the trophy hunters have taken opposite stances. We have provided our burden of proof. Now it is up to you hunters. But we do warn you … monotonous hype will no longer be acceptable.

Posted by Pieter Kat at 22:02

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