Canadian Couple Who Took Romantic Photo In Front Of Lion They Killed Become Most Hated People On Internet

Photo: Instagram
Who Are Darren And Carolyn Carter? New Details On Couple Who Took Romantic Photo In Front Of Dead Lion They Killed
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Darren and Carolyn Carter are the Canadians featured kissing above the carcass of a lion they’d just killed in a photo posted on the Legelela Safaris Facebook page. (Legelela Safaris, a tour company that specializes in big game hunting, has since deleted the photo). The couple is from Edmonton in Alberta, and they took the photo while trophy hunting in South Africa. “Hard work in the hot Kalahari sun … well done,” the photo was captioned. “A monster lion.”

Here’s what you need to know. Who are Darren and Carolyn Carter?

1. Trophy hunting has implications for all life, not just the animals it kills.

According to Panthera, a nonprofit “devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s 40 wild cat species and their ecosystems,”trophy hunting has caused the lion population to undergo catastrophic declines, from as many as 200,000 wild lions in Africa a century ago to about 20,000 today.” Panthera has a grants program called Small Cat Action Fund (SCAF) to combat these insane numbers and support conservation and research initiatives on many of the smaller wildcat species around the globe.

Are you wondering why this is so important? Do you like animals but don’t see why we should spend so much time and money on animals? Consider that “thousands of plant and animal species” depend on these ecosystems. “The presence of wild cats—our landscape guardians—indicate healthy, intact ecosystems that support all life, including people around the world. While Panthera’s efforts are focused on saving wild cats, the impacts go far beyond.”

2. This incident is reminiscent of Cecil the Lion.

Around March of last year, 13-year-old Cecil the Lion suffered an unnecessarily cruel and long death at the hands of an American trophy hunter and dentist from Minnesota. Based on how he killed it with a bow and arrow, it seems Walter Palmer, the dentist who reportedly paid $50,000 to hunt Cecil, was going for a hunting record. He and Zimbabwean hunter Theo Bronkhorst used the scent of an elephant carcass to lure the lion out of Hwange National Park. Palmer hid in a tree and shot lethally sharp arrows around 9 p.m., but the lion didn’t die until roughly 12 hours later.

“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt,” Palmer told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2015. “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”

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3. The Carters run a taxidermy business.

Were you thinking that maybe they, too, were misinformed about the lion they killed and felt some remorse afterward? Think again: When The Daily Mirror confronted them about their decision to pose kissing with the dead lion, Darren said: “We aren’t interested in commenting on that at all. It’s too political.” According to their Facebook page (which has since been hidden from public view), the Carters own a taxidermy business called Solitude Taxidermy in Spruce Grove, Alberta. Their page featured several photos of their taxidermied deer, owls, and rams.

4. British hunter Carl Knight of Take Aim Safari came to their defense.

Knight runs Take Aim Safari, a tour company that offers clients the chance to kill African animals. Among his winning defensive arguments were: “They’re bred for hunting. This is not Mufasa or Cecil, this is an animal that was farmed like a cow, a sheep or a crocodile hat is farmed for meat and skin;” and “Why do we have to answer to your armchair conservationist readers that know nothing about Africa?” In other words, since this lion was not “wild,” its death wouldn’t impact the species’ population numbers. I mean, that’s technically true. But that doesn’t change the savage nature of it all.

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5. "Solitude Taxidermy" is a partner of Parkland outdoors.

Parkland Outdoors is a company that promotes hunting content from various contributors, one of whom is Darren and Carolyn. Their online presence was deleted shortly after the photo of Darren and Carolyn went viral, though—all their social media links are currently dead. However, the wondrous Internet has allowed us to retrieve some content, including their homepage, which reads: “We are a team of outdoor enthusiasts, striving to celebrate our sport with you. Join us as we bring our experiences in the field home to you.” According to the homepage, the company is based in Edmonton, Alberta, and they focus their hunting predominantly in Edmonton Bowzone for Whitetail Deer, Mule Deer and Moose. “Alberta is an amazing place offering some incredible experiences hunting and fishing. From elk in the foothills, bear baiting in the boreal forest, to antelope in the prairies, the opportunities are endless,” it reads.

6. The lion was a product of “canned hunting.”

Canned hunting is when animals (especially lions) are kept in an enclosed area specifically to be shot by paying hunters. This is actually a growing business. There are more than 200 centres in South Africa alone dedicated to this goal. It’s also not uncommon in the US, which has over 1,000 reserves where hunters can shoot bison, deer and African antelopes. Eduardo Goncalves of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting has said, “There’s nothing sporting about trophy hunting, but ‘canned hunting’ is surely the lowest of the low.”

According to PETA, media reports show that the lion the Carters killed was bred in captivity and imprisoned in a small enclosure on a canned hunting ranch, making him an easy mark. 

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Leah Scher is an ENFP finishing her degree at Brandeis University. She's an alumna of the Kenyon Review Young Writer's Workshop the Iowa Young Writers' Studio. She's passionate about Judaism, poetry, film, satire, astrology, spirituality, and sexual health.