Here we go again … Pero Jelenic, a 75-year-old hotelier from Croatia was recently killed during a cruel canned hunting expedition. Pero, along with two other trophy hunters were hunting lions bred in captivity in South Africa for the sole purpose of being hunted.

Pero had already killed one lion and when he was tracking another lion, he was hit by a stray bullet. Pero was airlifted to a local hospital but was unable to be saved. “At this stage, it is not clear who fired the fatal shot that killed Mr. Jelinic. Our investigations are ongoing,” said Charlize van der Linden, a police spokesperson.

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Canned hunting is often viewed as reprehensive by animal welfare advocates and for good reason. In these mass-lion farms, lions are born into captivity and are hand-reared from birth, often taken from their mothers at an early age so the mother can get back to breeding. The cubs, in turn, become accustomed to humans, losing their fear of them, which will prove fatal later in life. When they’re still young, these lions serve as an attraction for unwitting tourists, who can pay a small fee to pet and play with the cubs, unaware of what will ultimately happen to them.

Once they reach maturity, hunters pay an exorbitant fee, upwards of $20,000 to hunt large male lions in confined spaces, in which the lions have no chance of escape. In South Africa, there are reportedly 200 breeding farms that hold around 6,000-7,000 captive lions. To put that into perspective, there are only about 3,000 wild lions in South Africa.

While bans on ivory and endangered species protections are popping up in more and more countries every day, the fact remains that poaching and big game hunting contribute to extinction and if we don’t take action now, we stand to lose some of the most iconic animals on the planet. Despite the claims made by big game hunters, paying to kill large mammals does not aid in their conservation. Trophy hunting makes up only 1.8 percent of tourism revenues in several African countries, suggesting that the majority of people visit the continent not to kill the wildlife found there, but to see and appreciate them.

With stories of hunters being killed occurring almost every month, we have to ask ourselves if the “thrill of the hunt” is really worth risking your own life – while deliberately taking others. Here’s a thought: let’s leave wildlife alone. Instead of going to shoot big game, why not take a trip to simply appreciate the animals in their natural state? You can also support organizations like the World Animal Protection and the World Wildlife Fund who are working towards conservation – without killing.

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Image Source: Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay

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