Cecil the lion. We all remember Cecil, how could we forget? A year ago a dentist from America went hunting in Africa and killed a lion and people have been angry ever since. I’m not going to write about Cecil though, that was last year and now Channel 4, are taking us along a journey in the lives of The Women Who Kill Lions (29th June, 9pm) to show what motivates people, specifically women in this case, to hunt and kill wild animals. The program is mostly observational with the women often talking to the camera to explain what they’re doing and with as little intrusion as possible, meaning there are quite a few monologues which offer a disturbing glimpse into the mindset of these hunters.

At times the program is certainly unsettling, in particular the scene where a ten year old child shots Robins and other birds from their porch (but not a mocking bird, that’s a sin to shoot a mockingbird), considered training for when he’ll shoot his first bear later that year. At other times the hunters do present some interesting points: the not insignificant amount of money hunting permits raise, the importance of the hunting lobby in protecting suitable habitats for the game, providing employment and meat for locals and the undeniable fact that encouraging children to go hunting, or as it was put in the documentary to ‘harvest’ their first animals, does get them outdoors and away from a computer desk (one might say there are other ways to achieve that).

These well-rehearsed arguments are somewhat undermined by the obvious enjoyment the women get in making a kill. In one scene she talks of ‘buck fever’, shaking with excitement and release of adrenaline after making a kill. In the same hunt, made with a bow, she loses sight of the deer after it is hit and can’t locate it in the darkness. She confesses she’s worried about leaving it out there but not for welfare reasons as I first presumed, but in case another animal eats the carcass first.

Overall a well made documentary that is a must for anyone with an interest in the hunting debate.

Watch on 4oD here