Chris Kaman, center for the Portland Trail Blazers, is not only gearing up for the beginning of the NBA season, he's apparently also chomping at the bit to hunt and kill his very own lion.
In a recent interview with For The Win, Kaman discussed his rather lengthy hunting wish-list, which included, but was not limited to, musk ox, caribou and bears. Kaman went on to describe his ultimate hunting goal, saying "there's so many cool hunts you could do. Potentially, like, a lion. That would be awesome, too. It's so hard with the seasons and the timings. I mean getting tags for something like that is an interesting adventure in itself. I think it's $60,000 to kill a lion."
Though Kaman was perhaps a bit high in his estimate (trophy hunters typically pay around $30,000) the unfortunate process of breeding lions specifically to be slaughtered by hunters, known as "canned hunting," is widely practiced in South Africa.
Cubs raised on the over 160 farms involved in the canned hunts often begin their lives in a sort of petting-zoo for tourists, where visitors can cuddle and pose for pictures with the baby lions. During the lions' adolescence, the animals are moved to pens away from tourists and kept in close quarters until they reach maturity, when they are suitable to be hunted. The Campaign Against Canned Hunting refers to these mature lions, who are sold to trophy hunters and then killed, as "living targets." The lion bones are then often sold to Asian markets to be used in medicine.
The problem with Kaman's casual musings concerning shooting lions is that these canned hunts utilize a creature whose wild populations have experienced a dramatic decline. According to Patrick Barkham's in-depth report for The Guardian on the subject of canned hunting, "There are now more lions held in captivity (upwards of 5,000) in the country than live wild (about 2,000)." Lions have become regionally extinct in 7 of their 30 native African countries, and have been listed as "vulnerable" by the IUCN since 1996.
Though breeders of the "canned lions" insist that the practice is an "international norm," environmentalists and conservationists criticize the industry whose "whole business model is to make egregious cruelty to helpless animals, routine."
While it's probable that Kaman is not aware of the full weight of his remarks, it's fairly evident that the process of killing a vulnerable species is not something to be taken lightly.
Although Kaman was hopefully only musing about the idea of hunting lions, his behavior has not exactly erred on the side of eco-friendly. In the official trailer for Kaman's new reality series "Exploring Kaman," the show's namesake yanks an eyeball from (what looks like) a Mahi-mahi and puts it in his mouth to mug for the camera.
Here's the trailer in question for those who aren't squeamish:
(YouTube: Exploring Kaman)