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.