GOING by the quotes from Niki Rust of Kent University and Mimi Belchechi, director of animal protection charity Peta UK (“Furore over lion’s death spurs fresh look at role of stalking”, The Herald, July August 1, neither should be commenting on behalf of their respective organisations because, with respect, it is patently obvious that they do not know what they are talking about.

The former thinks that deer culling is elitist and the latter that deer in the wild managed themselves quite well before human exploitation and encroachment came along. It might have been the case 50 years ago that deer stalking was the preserve of the wealthy and the aristocracy but that is far from true today. A quick trawl on the internet will show that most sporting estates in the Highlands let their stalking to anyone who wishes to participate. Indeed many encourage first-time guests to try their hand, providing of course that they can prove to the professional stalker who will accompany them, that they can shoot properly by taking them to a target before being given the opportunity to take a carefully selected animal.

Yes it is true, deer did manage before man came along, but what Mimi Belchechi forgets is that in these days wolves, lynx and other large predators kept the population stable. To some extent Mother Nature helps today but it is not enough and neither will the reintroduction of some of these large carnivores where sheep and cattle are now present.

Iain Thornber,

Knock House, Morvern, Argyll.

AROUND 40,000 years ago an unknown artist picked up a fragment of mammoth tusk, whittled an image of a human body, then gave their creation a lion’s head.

The carver's intention is debatable. Perhaps the motive was an attempt to control the animal's powers or maybe to pay homage to its majesty. Whatever lay in the craftsman’s mind, until recently their handiwork lay undisturbed in a cave.

In that era the total human population was approximately one million, plus an enormous number of lions and money was unknown. Forty thousand years later, there are 7,000 times more people, far fewer lions and money has been invented.

Alison Rowat’s article (“Cecil’s killing shows human nature at its worst ... and best”, The Herald, July 31) highlights the morality of hunting for “trophies”, in this case a magnificent lion’s flayed skin and amputated head, while the £32,000 price paid by the hunter, in a country with an average income of less than £1.30 a day, defies justification. A typical Zimbabwean would need to work for 100 years to afford that day’s safari.

The impact of large dollops of cash coming into an impoverished country is predictable. Many who can access such riches do so, while those existing beyond the pale of cronyism can only dream of what such wealth might mean. As a consequence moral integrity is perverted and corruption fuelled.

While the ivory carver of antiquity might have appreciated the use of a bow and arrow, attempts to justify the "sport" of hunting with primitive weapons in the 21st century are undermined by the revelation that the lion was only maimed by the latter-day archer and suffered for many hours before being slain. Such action unquestionably crosses the boundary between sport and animal cruelty.

As a consequence a rich American dentist has achieved unexpected notoriety, while our anonymous ancestor who had no concept of money remains justifiably revered. It strengthens the view expressed by Dean Inge that if animals were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.

Bob Scott,

Humanist Society Scotland, Creitendam Lodge, Balmaha Road, Drymen.