Richard Peirce: Cuddle Me, Kill Me

I’m interviewing author and conservationist Richard Peirce tomorrow, We met at a TeamEarth event in Bristol a few weeks ago, where he hosted a showing of the unforgettable (and rather bleak) 2015 film ‘Blood Lions‘.

Richard, who divides his time between South Africa and Cornwall (here in the UK he is perhaps mostly known for his work conserving sharks with the Shark Trust), recently wrote a sort-of follow up book which absolutely blasts the canned lion industry and is well worth buying: Cuddle Me, Kill Me (which apart from anything else has one heck of title…).

Putting bullets into lions seems a very difficult industry to defeat. Exposes of the canned lion industry, with it’s related ‘petting tourism’ and ‘walking with lions’ offshoots, have been around since Roger Cook’s famous ‘Making a Killing’ report was shown on ITV back in 1997. Even the global release of ‘Blood Lions’ doesn’t seem to have slowed the industry down. There appears to be a long queue of empathy-deficient ‘hunters’ (or more properly ‘gun owners who like to kill animals’) willing to prove their manhood by shooting a lion in a cage. Cynical owners/operators have dug in and greenwash their sordid activities by burying opponents under claims of ‘conservation’ (technically, yes, there are more lions in South Africa now than in previous decades, but only in the sense that opening an intensive chicken factory in a town means there are now more chickens in that town than previously).

It’ll be interesting to find out from Richard what solutions might exist, and what he considers the next moves should be. And what about the intervention in April of Tory peer Michael Ashcroft, a man who appears to be ruthless in business on the one hand but against canned lion hunting on the other (that link, incidentally, leads to Ashcroft’s own website where he writes about himself in the third person – not something I’ve ever felt comfortable about but then again I’m not worth 1.3billion dollars, so maybe there’s something in it)?

Richard was gratifyingly blunt in Bristol, I’m hoping for much more of the same!