The death of a lion

"Cecil the Lion" by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cecil_the_Lion.jpg#/media/File:Cecil_the_Lion.jpg

“Cecil the Lion” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cecil_the_Lion.jpg#/media/File:Cecil_the_Lion.jpg

Probably THE biggest story on the interwebs last week is the murder of Cecil the lion. Wikipedia has an unemotional couple of paragraphs of the facts. Essentially, American dentist Walter Palmer paid two men in Zimbabwe $50,000 to deliver a lion for him to kill. They lured the cat out of a national park, where Palmer shot and wounded him with an arrow. Cecil was later killed with a rifle, and his body skinned.

I suppose our American dentist thought he was brave, accepting the challenge to bring down a lion with an arrow. Adventure, you know? Excitement. Blood lust. Killing. A photo with a dead lion. “I did that.” But in the end, it was a high-powered rifle that did the dead. Excuse me while I vomit.

The aftermath of this event has been quite remarkable. Facebook, Twitter and the like have erupted in outrage. The two Zimbabweans who Palmer paid are facing charges, and it seems Zimbabwe wants to extradite Palmer for poaching. Zimbabwe does allow hunting of wildlife, but only in designated areas, under a quota. And though I don’t like the idea, I suppose I can understand it. There’s only so much space and so much game for top predators. But the two Zimbabweans didn’t follow the rules. I have no sympathy for them, but they at least are facing the legal consequences.

Palmer, safe at home in the USA, is another matter. A large crowd reportedly converged on Palmer’s dental practice in Minneapolis, causing him to close his office and go into hiding with his family. Yes, it all does sound like a witch hunt, a lynch mob baying for Palmer’s blood. He’ll be fine. The fuss will die down in a few weeks, or days, when something else excites the public imagination. But the lion is still dead.

Mobs baying for blood is wrong, but I make no apology for adding my two cents worth to the chorus. Palmer is not the only one. We often see photos of “hunters” posing with dead animals on Facebook. I wonder how stupidly short-sighted these people can be. Our world is bursting at the seams with one invasive species and everything else gives way before its voracious demand for land, water, air – everything. Remember all the animals in your childhood picture books? Lions, tigers, elephants, rhinos, leopards, gorillas, urang utans? They’re all under threat because of US. You and me. People. This is why I wrote my two paranormal tiger books, and why I donate the proceeds, little as they may be, to tiger conservation.

I’m delighted to say that the Government has banned hunting trophies from entering Australia. The uproar over Cecil’s death has provided an opportunity to have the same legislation passed in the US, and maybe other countries around the world. Add your signature to this petition. It’s a small thing, but it might make a difference. If these so-called “hunters” can’t bring home the heads and skins of their victims, they may not bother.

Please, please give a thought to the wild world. We humans should be part of an ecosystem, just one component of a complex tapestry of life on this Earth. We’ve upset that balance so much I doubt we’ll ever be able to bring it back completely. And on that happy note, I’ll end.

Vale, Cecil. May your death not be completely in vain.

7 thoughts on “The death of a lion

  1. Cynthia

    (Oh, dear … soapbox ranting spewing forth!)

    It’s very easy for an American dentist to more than afford $50K trophy hunts; this was definitely not his first and it wasn’t planned on being his last.

    Palmer has already been previously convicted for illegal poaching (bear). Trophy hunting on another continent, not using the flesh of the animal (they cut Cecil’s head off and left the rest of him behind as irrelevant), is grotesque. Palmer could have driven down to Texas and had a hunting heydey on the wild boar population. Instead, he was lining up his next target, “the biggest elephant his hunting guides could round up.”

    This isn’t hunting. It’s murderous intent justified as sport. I hope Cecil’s life does more than humiliate Palmer and send him into hiding (if he was so proud of what he had done, why hide???). Palmer should face his charges, submit to his punishments, and be the poster boy for legislation (http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/bob-menendez-cecil-lion-act-legislation-curb-hunting-africa-species-120857.html).

  2. Gobitis

    Personally I am wondering how a dentist can afford $50K on this thing. I doubt many dentists in the UK could afford it.

    Culling is a necessary act and hunters who hunt and pose for pictures don’t upset me if the thing is eaten later. Venison is a good alternative to beef and makes great sausages.

    I couldn’t help but be reminded of the people who hunt tigers and run the real risk of being eaten. Their trophies mean something as its usually a dead man-eater and not undertaken lightly. They regret killing.

    1. Greta Post author

      I think we’ll just have to agree to differ.
      1) This wasn’t culling. I said I accept it’s necessary in some circumstances.
      2) I doubt lion would taste nice.
      3) There are less than 3,000 tigers alive in the wild today. They don’t need culling. And I don’t think it’s much of a contest against any animal to hunt it with a high-powered rifle.
      4) Palmer’s profession is immaterial. The fact is he used his money to arrange to kill a wild animal for sport.
      End of story.

      1. Gobitis

        I didn’t mean that I supported the guy. This was poaching plain and simple.

        I am not sure if it was India or Bangladesh but because of the conflict between human and animal some tigers kill humans. The locals are actively trying to find ways to reduce the number of tigers killed. One of the ways was training dogs of all things.

        It is also important to note that 1 lion didn’t die. I believe as a result of his actions 7 lions are now going to die as the young will be killed by the new alpha.

  3. Julia Barrett

    The story makes me so ill. I did know about Cecil, before his death. While I’m okay with hunting for meat, I have issues with trophy hunting.
    Such a tragedy. The dentist is in hiding.
    I guess the other sad thing is that people are appalled when a lion is killed but when people are murdered, just any other day…
    I get it, I love animals too, probably more than I love people, but still we are weird that way.

    1. Greta Post author

      Yes, we are. I was going to say something about that – the people thing. But I got into my stride, and there it is. I’m MUCH better with animals than people.

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