But the revelation that a top huntsmen is British has shocked animal rights campaigners. Eduardo Goncalves, founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, said Mr King was Britain’s Walter Palmer, the American dentist who controversially killed Cecil the Lion on a big game hunt in Zimbabwe. Mark Jones, of the Born Free Foundation, said: “That a prolific huntsman hails from the UK and been given ‘awards’ by Safari Club International for the sheer number and variety of animals slaughtered is truly shocking.”
Last year Mr King celebrated his 74th birthday on a 10-day safari trip in Cameroon. An online account of that expedition reveals how respected he is in hunting circles. Stiliyan Kadrev, who runs the Balkan Hunters Club and produced a film of the tour, told how his “English client … needed a number of specific animals from the rainforest”.
“Malcolm King has been actively engaged in trophy hunting worldwide since 2000,” he wrote. “Lots of world-renowned hunters may feel envious of his extensive trophy collection. It contains some of the hardest and most desired trophies from Asia, Europe and America, as well as from Africa.”
Explaining how salt blocks were used to lure some animals, while hunting dogs tracked others, he said a 15-year-old buffalo was wounded, then tracked before eventually being killed by the group. He wrote that Mr King “had not expected an early stroke of hunting luck” and “got the hardest African trophy – a forest buffalo” which was skinned, cut up and smoked.
The next day they killed a black-backed duiker and “Malcolm was visibly pleased”. Finally, Mr King used a “one-barrel shotgun” to blast a Bates’s pygmy antelope which he “had long craved for”. Mr Kadrev added: “He was very happy he was about to add such a rare species to his collection.” Mr Kadrev told the Telegraph: “He is perhaps the greatest English hunter in present times.”
Mr King was brought up in the Somerset countryside where he learned to shoot and hunt. The SCI has 50,000 members worldwide and insists it promotes “ethical hunting based on the concepts of science-based sustainable use” to “conserve wildlife”.
Mr King said Cameroon was his last trip and he had retired due to failing health. However, Mr Goncalves insisted that Mr King’s tally of kills suggests he has shot many more animals than the American who killed Cecil the Lion. “King is among the world’s ‘elite’ big game hunters – very few have amassed so many of the industry’s obscene awards. He has travelled to every corner of the globe to shoot endangered animals for amusement.
“If you add the minimum number of kills needed for all his awards, it comes to well over 500. International law allows wildlife serial killers to get away with murder.”