http://www.smh.com.au/comment/when-...es-the-worst-of-humanity-20170525-gwcups.html When animal rights extremism exposes the worst of humanity Garry Linnell It's hard to feel sorry for a man with a gun who hunts elephants for sport. But that's one of the many problems with animal rights extremists. In their religious zeal to place the world's beasts on an equal footing with people, they always manage to snatch defeat when an emphatic victory is handed to them. How ironic, really, that attempting to save animals sometimes exposes the worst of human traits. But irony has been a word bandied about way too often in the past week. It's why I've come to feel such sorrow over the events following the death of Theunis Botha. Amid all the carnage inflicted on the world over the past seven days, you may have missed the news about the passing of this 51-year-old former South African soldier with five children. That's not such a bad thing. It means you also escaped the embarrassing celebrations that accompanied his demise. Botha was a leading big-game hunter who had been taking high-paying tourists on legal hunts for more than three decades. Last Friday, near a small village in western Zimbabwe, his touring party came across a group of elephants that began to charge at them. Botha fired as they attacked. But one elephant managed to get close enough to hoist him with its trunk. That elephant was then shot by another hunter and, as it fell, it took Botha with it, crushing him. As news began to emerge about the death of such a prominent hunter, animal rights activists around the world began a frenetic victory dance, joyously celebrating Botha's demise at the hands of "his enemy" with a string of abusive postings on social media, some of them plastered across his Facebook site so his wife and children could view them. Oh, it was hard to work out where delight took over from the hate and bile. "Karma" competed with "irony" for hashtags as the usual imbecilic herd of animal supporters – most cloaked, as usual, in pseudonyms –celebrated another apparent triumph over the dark side of the human race. Once again, the moral flaw at the heart of the beliefs of extreme animal liberators was exposed. It's the same misguided value system displayed whenever someone is taken by a shark in our waters. Rather than control the number of predatory Great Whites – a protected species for the past 20 years whose numbers have been growing in the past decade – we are subjected to sanctimonious lectures about how we humans have invaded their territory and should stay out of their way. It's a moral compass tipping wildly out of kilter. While this disdain for human life is hard enough to comprehend, you can find many animal rights extremists who think the extermination of the human race would be an admirable outcome for all creatures great and small on this planet. What other species on the planet places another member of the animal kingdom on equal or higher footing? What other species boasts members that apologise for its advances and triumphs? There is a growing amount of science that supports the idea that elephants are among the most intelligent creatures on the planet. They form strong social bonds. Tests have shown they can use tools and, when taught something, sometimes experience a lightbulb moment – a cognitive learning process that alters future behaviour. They appear to be empathic creatures who, like humans, mourn their dead and spend years nurturing and protecting their young. So it's easy to understand why so many of us oppose the hunting and killing of elephants. Almost all of us feel no urge – or even comprehend – the desire to take a weapon and end their lives. But there are many areas in southern Africa where hunting these animals is controlled, because they destroy the crops of some of the poorest people on the planet and also provide a boost to the tourist economy. Most of us understand this. Then again, we are prone to silly old human traits like being … practical. The problem for animal extremists is where they can possibly draw the line. Why reserve your hatred and bile for game hunters – easy targets themselves – when you ignore the latest kangaroo cull or the introduction of another virus to wipe out rabbit populations? It's why extremists still swat mosquitoes without considering the pain they may inflict because we don't anthropomorphise insects or view them as sentient creatures. Unlike baby seals and elephants and other "noble beasts" who walk on Earth and swim its seas, they're not so, well, cute. So pack up your outrage and your breathtaking hypocrisy. Once again, you animal rights extremists have exposed your lack of human empathy. Little wonder you find comfort in the animal world. You're a bloody embarrassment when it comes to your own species. Garry Linnell is co-presenter of The Breakfast Show on Talking Lifestyle.