One year ago, TV per­son­ality Melissa Bachman killed a male lion in South Africa then tweeted, “An incredible day hunting in South Africa! Stalked inside 60 yards on this beau­tiful male lion…what a hunt!”

But after spending several weeks working beside nine lions in Mkhuze National Park in South Africa, I can attest that lion hunting requires no skill or courage. My team and I would track them, pull off the road, then watch them from dis­tances of less than 60 yards. Most of the lions were not bothered by the presence of the truck or humans.

Expe­rience tells me that Bachman would have been led by a pro­fes­sional guide, a requirement to hunt such game in South Africa legally. In the comfort of the safari vehicle, the guide would have pulled the truck to within 60 yards of the lion’s position. This allowed Bachman to take a con­trolled and simple shot.

From foxes to snipes and sharks to wolves, many species have fallen victim to the selfish desires of trophy hunters like Bachman. True hunters take the life of an animal for sus­te­nance. Today’s trophy hunters are well-fed men and women des­perate for the glory of trav­eling to far-away lands to destroy mag­nif­icent crea­tures for the purpose of mounting stuffed tro­phies on their inflated egos. Even the mighty lion cannot defend against this growing inter­na­tional “sport.”

Cow­ardice often joins his­torical and envi­ron­mental igno­rance in the blissful “sport” of lion hunting. College cheer­leader Kendall Jones was recently crit­i­cized for shooting and killing a lion in South Africa. Jones’s Facebook defense hid behind the coat­tails of the Rough Rider: “Our 26th Pres­ident of the United States, Theodore Roo­sevelt, has been labeled by many as the Father of Con­ser­vation… But he was a hunter too, right? He killed the same species that hunters now chase today under a mound of anti-hunting pressure.”

What Jones and many other pro-big-game hunters fail to address are the dif­fer­ences in lion pop­u­la­tions from the early 1900s to the present. According to National Geo­graphic, upward of 600,000 lions were present during the early 1900s. Now, there are fewer than 30,000 left in the wild. Chased from their habitat by human expansion and poaching, the pop­u­lation of lions is on a steady decline. National Geo­graphic writers and other lion spe­cialists have pre­dicted that lions could dis­appear from the wild by 2020.

Hunters before the 1940s hunted the big cats when they were plen­tiful. Often times, as in the case of Roo­sevelt, trophy hunters of the past also appro­priated and donated large sums of public and private money to the preser­vation and con­ser­vation of land and animals. Today, hunters exter­minate more and more of fewer and fewer lions. They pay the $50,000 or more required to com­plete a hunt, take their pelt, and flee back to the com­forts of home. They claim that only hunting the cats helps with their con­ser­vation. If con­ser­vation were actually the goal of trophy hunters, the entire $50,000+ they spend to kill could go to con­ser­vation of the species of their choice without having to reduce the pop­u­lation by one. If these hunters cared about con­ser­vation more than their own pride, they would see the impor­tance of not slaying these crea­tures at this critical stage of envi­ron­mental history.

Trophy hunting of lions in today’s world is a cow­ardly and destructive activity, ben­e­fitting nothing other than the ego of the hunter. If hunters were truly con­cerned with the con­ser­vation of animals who are indis­putably endan­gered, why must they kill what they purport to pre­serve and protect?