In Brief—The killing of Cecil, the lion, by a trophy hunter has aroused anger and awareness throughout the world at the slaughter of threatened species by human hunters. Unless this is stopped, there will be no threatened species left to share Earth.
Threatened Today, Gone Tomorrow—
Whether it’s slaughtering whales and dolphins for Japanese dinner tables, Orcas in little tanks for Sea World profit, chimps subjected to experiments in American labs or endangered elephants being killed for their tusks, the predator most to be feared is the human.
Collared and relatively safe, Cecil rests in the shade in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park and wildlife preserve, an object of fear to African villagers and grudging respect by the younger male lions who recognize his dominance. His cubs play nearby secure that they will grow to adulthood unmolested by the older males who acknowledge Cecil as the alpha male.
Suddenly, Cecil’s sensitive nose tells him that there is food to be had. A dead creature is being used by an experienced South African guide to lure him away from the safety of the preserve. Before he reaches the dead creature, Cecil is struck by an arrow. The fearless trophy hunter from America has paid a fortune to have the black-maned lion’s head on his den wall.
Wounded and in pain, Cecil flees toward the safety of the preserve. Two days later, the hunters locate the wounded lion, and a rifle shot by the trophy hunter ends Cecil’s life. His head and skin are taken. His remains are left for the scavengers.
The sensation-seeking ever-alert media have told the world that Cecil’s unlawful killing led wealthy Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, proud trophy hunter, to be protected by his friends from understandably popular outrage despite extradition being sought by Zimbabwe’s hypocritical kleptocracy. Meanwhile, the South African guide, Theo Bronkhorst is scheduled for trial charged with poaching.
Cecil’s killer, Walter Palmer, already has a felony conviction for giving false statements to U.S. federal wildlife authorities regarding an illegal bear hunt. His claim of innocence in Cecil’s killing rings hollow.
It must be noted that hunting African animals is largely confined to the wealthy who can afford the pricey fees that too often go into the pockets of the country’s oligarchs rather than to legitimate conservation groups and the poor. It is estimated that less than 5% of the fees go to those most deserving. By comparison, camera safaris bring millions of dollars into the African economy.
African nations that permit trophy hunting include Zimbabwe, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa among others. Some countries permit hunting of certain animals and not others. In some of the countries such as Ghana and Congo, once-hunted lions are now extinct.
Interestingly, the approving African nations and even some weak-kneed legitimate conservationists have claimed that only by giving the targeted animals a financial value will the majority of threatened species be protected. This reminds me of the U.S. military’s Vietnam War claim, “We had to destroy the village to save it.” The question must then be asked why the biggest and healthiest animals are permitted to be killed instead of the weakest.
Media outlets like Times contribute to this charade by giving prominent coverage to the illogical claims of the above sources without revealing their bias or self-interest. There’s an apt saying: ”Follow the money.”
Although Cecil was theoretically a protected lion, Africa’s threatened and dwindling elephants are being slaughtered for their tusks at a tremendous rate to finance criminal warlords and the leader of Sudan. In short, the problem is much worse than discussed here. Do the media care about more than Cecil…and profit?
American Hunting Ranches—
Lest you think that the problem is confined to Africa, there are over 1.000 hunting ranches in the United States, most of them in Texas and Florida.
When you think of hunting “ranches,” you should be aware that these are fenced-in areas where the animals killed often come from zoos and circuses and include many that have been bottle-fed from birth; the latter trusting humans as nurturers, not killers. What’s more, according to the Humane Society, these hunting ranches can include animals that are on the Endangered Species list. The intrepid hunters claim they are “having fun.” Shooting fish in a barrel comes to mind.
I heartily recommend that you read my earlier post on “canned hunts” by simply CLICKING on this highlighted area.
Cecil is a road sign on the road to the future. We are at a “Y” in the road. Will humans be predators or protectors?