Podcast Uploaded: Richard Peirce | Lions, Bones, and Bullets

The Lion – King of the Jungle, the Big Beast, Simba, star of the Lion King, one of the world’s best known and best loved animals – or perhaps more accurately a wild cat of the open plains whose population, according to a 2015 statement by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, has undergone a reduction of approximately 42% over the past 21 years, the unwitting star of 1997’s the Cook Report’s ‘Making a Killing‘ and the chilling and powerful 2015 documentary ‘Blood Lions‘, which uncovered the realities of the multi-million dollar predator breeding and canned lion hunting industries in South Africa.

From magnificent predators we have turned Lions into inbred animals farmed in miserable conditions across southern africa, animals rented out to be cuddled by so-called voluntourists then sold on to be shot in their enclosures by trophy hunters in canned hunts, and animals whose bones are boiled down to service the demands of traditional Chinese medicine now that Tigers have been exploited to the point of extinction.

I met conservationist, activist, author and film maker Richard Peirce at a wildlife event in Bristol where he was talking about ‘Blood Lions’ and his own excellent book ‘Cuddle Me, Kill Me‘, a scathing and in-depth investigation of South Africa’s large-scale captive lion breeding industry, from, as the book puts it, bottle to bullet. Research for ‘Cuddle Me, Kill Me‘, started in late 2016 and the book was published in mid-2018 – Rather than say, ‘I’ve done my bit’ though, Richard is now deep into the making of an investigative documentary, ‘Lions, Bones, and Bullets‘, and is planning visits to Asia, where many lion products end up

Richard Peirce really knows his stuff. He divides his time between Cape Town and Cornwall, fundraising, campaigning, and tirelessly – and bluntly – talking about the problems that Lions face. He is well placed to discuss the impact of canned hunting and the lion bone industry on what travel chiefs like to call ‘Brand South Africa’, the lies told by farm operators to overseas volunteers who come to Africa to look after ‘orphaned’ lion cubs, the huge sums of money being made by lion farmers, and the more then twenty years of effort to halt an industry which to jaundiced eyed might seem almost unstoppably buoyant.

Richard has some fascinating perspectives on lions, Africa, and activism, but I began by asking him – given that there seems to be an almost endless queue of wealthy gun owners looking to get their jollies by shooting a lion in a cage whilst at the same time East Asia is hoovering up wild animal parts at a rate never witnessed in the planet’s history – has anything actually changed for the better since Blood Lions?

Have a listen to Richard Peirce | Lions, Bones, and Bullets on Lush Player

Podcast Uploaded: Birdgirl | Mya-Rose Craig

Last month I interviewed feisty sixteen year old (though I think she may have had a birthday since then, as her blog is now saying seventeen year old?) Mya-Rose Craig.

Mya-Rose is a world lister (a Rock Bunting in Spain this spring was her 5000th species! At sixteen! Yes, big lists are built around opportunity, money, travel, and time, but she will have seen and experienced a lot more than most young people her age – and her parents, Chris and Helena, will have required her to think while she was off travelling with them – and there’s no better education in my mind than being made to think about the things you see).

Anyway, while the conversation could easily have been about birds, birds, and even more birds, I wanted to get Mya-Rose’s perspective on the other passions in her life: equality, access to the countryside, online bullying, and the climate emergency we’re all facing.

If that seems a bit ‘heavy going’ for a teenager, it’s worth pointing out that Mya-Rose has form here: she is a very interesting young woman, with a drive and commitment that I felt was worth almost ‘archiving’. Will she still feel this way in, say, a decade? Will she emerge as a generational leader, or quietly drop out of the limelight and back into birding and world listing?

Either would be understandable, and I certainly won’t be stepping forward to judge whatever decision she makes – but in the meantime here’s the link to the conversation on The Sound Approach website: Birdgirl | Mya-Rose Craig