Helen Martin: Slaughter is a sickening sight

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WHAT kind of person enjoys killing an animal, let alone gets such a thrill out of causing pain and death to endangered wildlife that they were prepared to spend £32,000 on the exercise?

US dentist Walter Palmer went even further by being daft enough to be hoodwinked by poacher guides he blithely assumed were leading him to a “legal” kill – although “legal” and “lion-killing” are mutually exclusive in my book, unless the lion in question is about to attack someone. On the contrary his victim, Cecil, was no danger, protected on a safe reserve and as much a public pet as a lion can be. His cubs, left with no father to protect them from other male lions, are now likely to die.

As further revelations of Palmer’s hideous life unfolded, along with photographs of him posing triumphantly on previous “holidays” over bison, rhino and leopard corpses against which rested his high-tech bow and arrow weapons, he became the most hated man in the world. Most normal people would react to the wanton human slaughter of such majestic beasts by reaching for a sick bag.

Given the US propensity for hunting trips and weapon ownership, it would have been all too easy to write him off as an example of the ignorant and primitive extremism that exists among some of the American middle and upper-classes under a thin veneer of apparent sophistication and civilisation.

Then came the exposure of Sir David Scholey, former director of the Bank of England, former governor of the BBC and donor to the Tory Party. He too, is proud of having hunted exotic animals “legally”, describing it as “a personal matter” and has pictures in which he poses next to tusks, corpses and skulls. As British as British can be and a Knight of the realm. Pass me that sick bag.

There are, of course, African firms offering these nightmare hunting trips and even some British companies such as one particularly evil-sounding one called Settlers Safaris offering a combo-deal to kill one male and one female big cat in South Africa at a discounted £14,000.

Should we allow them to operate “legally”? Outlawing such firms wouldn’t necessarily stop hunting compelled by bloodlust, but at least we wouldn’t be sanctioning them by accepting their tax contributions.

Such is the sense of public revulsion that the very least we can do is strip David Scholey of his knighthood. He makes Lord Sewel (who hasn’t got blood on his hands) look no worse than a naughty school boy.

Why do those rich and powerful men corrupt and soil themselves with this barbaric behaviour? The Victorians were brutal and started the fashion for trophy hunting, among other animal abuses. But in the days before global awareness and David Attenborough documentaries, perhaps some of their cruelty and curiosity can be excused.

Today, absolutely nothing short of psychopathic tendencies can explain why anyone would think it acceptable to hunt big game animals, most of which are already under heavy threat from poaching and contracting environments.

Scholey (once is enough – I refuse to repeat “Sir”) has been quoted as saying: “If I felt there was anything wrong in it, I wouldn’t do it”. That’s the point, Scholey. Your own opinion doesn’t count. Those who are rotten don’t recognise it in themselves.

Laugh? I nearly ..split my sides

DONALD Trump declared if he was successful in becoming US President (cue laughter), he would offer a cabinet post to Sarah Palin (guffaw, verging on hysterics) because she is “tough and smart” (snort) and “perfect for a top job” (even Tena Ladys have their limits!). I won’t be laughing if they get voted in.

What a bad hair day for Hillary

OK, maybe I am having a pop at our “mates across the pond” (seee below). But usually I’m on the side of the Democrats. Hillary Clinton let the side down when she went for a haircut in New York and rather than invite her stylist to her hotel room with as many assistants and as much kit as required, she swept into the John Barrett salon on the ninth floor of Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue with her entire entourage, thus closing part of the store and monopolising all the lifts.

Class, dear Hillary, is when you can make good use of your VIP status, but even the Queen, wouldn’t inconvenience everyone else for something as simple as a haircut. Call yourself a Democrat?

It’s plane sailing for viruses now

LIKE fellow columnist Fiona Duff who was bemoaning her post-holiday bug last week, I always return home from a break in the sun with some horrible virus.

According to my GP, airlines were quick to embrace smoking bans on board and in airports, and not just because they were concerned about the health and wellbeing of passengers. In the old days they had to employ expensive gizmos that sucked the old smoky air out on one system and pumped fresh outside air in on another. Banning smoking meant they could forget fresh air and simply recirculate the old stuff round and round – thereby spreading viruses from one passenger to another.

Wonder how much that’s costing the NHS, and why the government hasn’t thought of putting an extra tax on airlines who don’t genuinely refresh the air in the cabin?