Monday 1 November 2010

Milking it: the Emperor lives on

The tale of the Exmoor Emperor rolls on - but now the newspapers are beginning to smell a rat.

For the Daily Mail at least, that rat is Johnny Kingdom, former poacher and gravedigger who has reinvented himself as the avuncular nature-loving wildlife cameraman with a penchant for Realtree and wide-brimmed hats.

According to the Mail, he's now milking the Emperor story for all it's worth, which by now must be considerably more than any trophy fee that he might have fetched, if he was even shot, which is beginning to look less and less likely.

Even Richard Austin, purveyor of mawkish animal images to the media, who has done more than his fair share in stirring up this non-story, is now wondering about the coincidences - apparently the same 'nature lover' called him 12 years ago, to the day, about the supposed death of another 'much loved' stag.

All this hasn't stopped MP David Crausby tabling an Early Day Motion (and 9 other bandwagon-jumpers, so far, from signing it): "That this House condemns the shooting of the stag known as the Exmoor Emperor; believes that this beautiful animal, standing nearly nine feet tall should have been spared to live out his life as a magnificent example of the Giant Red Stag, the biggest wild land animal in the UK; and calls on the Government to protect special individual animals from this kind of senseless destruction."

Don't we Brits just love a good animal story? The Exmoor Emperor will take its place alongside the Tamworth Two, the Beast of Exmoor and other popular legends. I just hope that in the process, it doesn't undermine the serious business of managing our deer populations responsibly.

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