Aug 30

The Lion, The Hunter and Human Nature

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.

Cecil and mate

Cecil and mate

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?


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  1. Let’s talk about hunting. I grew up in a hunting family and hunted for years before I became disgusted by it. We ate everything we killed except in my early years when my father had me shoot everything that moved so I could learn to hunt. I have come to realize that hunting plentiful game for food is far better than eating the chickens, et. al. that are tortured their whole lives. So some hunting is probably alright.

    Except that hunting is mostly a macho sport, and while the game may be eaten, the bragging rights still go to the mighty hunter. This is, to my mind, the source of the trophy hunting around the world. To be a real man, once again, we have to conquer something: animals, women, other nations.

    So for me there are two problems: killing endangered animals and strutting our macho stuff. Both are parts of what is wrong with the world.

      • Don Bay on August 31, 2015 at 10:15

      Like you, I killed some small animals when I was young. My first was with a slingshot. The victim was a beautiful bluejay. Though I severely wounded the bird, a friend had to kill it because I didn’t have the guts to finish what I started. In my early teens, I went out into the foothills of the Sandias and shot a small bird with my friend’s .22 rifle. I felt remorse for so casually killing a beautiful small bird and have not purposely killed anther animal since.

      To deliberately shoot an animal, whether for “sport” or for a trophy on the den wall is abhorrent to me. In my view, all species have a right to live out their lives, whether animal or human. Putting food on the table requires only a trip to the local market, not a gun and a dead deer. There are doubtless those humans who need to kill to eat, but they are few while the “sport” hunters are many. Their killing is not for survival but for the thrill. I oppose the latter. War is another outrage, but that is not the subject of this piece.

  2. Even though we no longer live in a world where our survival depends partly on hunting the food our family may require, I’m actually OK with hunting under the following conditions:

    The animal must live in the wild in a state of nature. Not in a fenced-in reserve, not turned loose from a cage, so as to give the hunter the advantage of not having to discover it in the wild by his own wits.
    The animal must be a healthy adult. The animal must weigh at least the same as the hunter at the very minimum.
    The animal must not be trapped by mechanical means. Rather, it must be approached by the hunter, in the wild, giving it a fair chance to flee if possible.

    And…..last but certainly not least, the hunter must subdue and dispatch the animal with his or her bare hands. After all, the animal is not privileged enough to have a high powered technologically advance weapon for defense, and therefore the hunter should not have such an advantage over the animal.

    So my belief is that hunting should be a, Man against Animal, face to face, fight to the death.
    Then, and only then, can a hunter claim superiority and have earned the right to brag about his victory…..assuming that the human is the victor.

      • Don Bay on August 31, 2015 at 10:49

      Would that we lived a world where killing an animal was a necessity, not a macho display. Vegetables are a more benign way to get the sustenance we require without the need to take the life of a living being. Vegetarianism is not the subject, so let’s turn to your proposal.

      You believe that a human should meet the animal on its terms, bare human hands against whatever the animal has as a weapon. What about survival, that is, what if a tiger attacks human prey? A wild cat such as a lion or tiger has claws and teeth as weapons while a human has only a more developed brain. Shouldn’t the human have at least a knife against those claws and teeth?

      In preparation for writing my first blog piece, “The Sport of Killing,” I reread “The Most Dangerous Game.” It presented human against human, and I proposed that as a viable solution. Brain against brain instead of man against beast. Is that a more equitable sport than high-powered rifle against teeth and claws or speed?

      My lizard brain enjoys the thought of human heads on the den wall or man versus beast, mano a mano, but that will never happen. Let’s fight to eliminate trophy hunting, “canned” hunts and hunting generally. Now those are battles worth fighting in my view.

      1. Perhaps you miss my point. I’m suggesting, in a sarcastic way, that there is no justification for trophy hunting. Unless… is willing to take the animal without benefit of a high powered rifle from 150 yards. If you want to brag about killing the beast, take it down with your bare hands.

          • Don Bay on September 2, 2015 at 16:52

          Yep, I was too serious. I didn’t look at your suggestion as sarcasm. Looking at it in that light, I agree with you: only if one can kill a dangerous, undrugged, healthy and mature wild animal with his/her bare hands does one have the right to brag. I’ll be on the lookout for sarcasm in the future. Thanks.

    • Brenda on August 30, 2015 at 23:55

    The humans who do this are the weak ones. They kill animals because they, the hunters, are insecure and need this to make them look and feel strong. I just can’t find the right words to describe these criminals. If only this could be stopped. Also the Rhinos suffer ffrom mutilation as well and are fast becoming extinct.

      • Don Bay on August 31, 2015 at 10:58

      You and I are in synch on this one. Cecil was one of a threatened species. Elephants and rhinos are two others of the many creatures on Earth threatened by mankind, intentionally or unintentionally. As I have said, the battles worth fighting are to preserve the species that share our home, the only home we have.

    • Donna Boe on August 31, 2015 at 04:06

    I can’t understand hunting for sport, for bonding, or for any other purpose than putting food on the table. In Idaho, hunters like Gov. Otter kill wolves, supposedly to protect the ranchers’ sheep. I think they kill wolves because wolves kill the deer that the hunters themselves want to kill.

      • Don Bay on August 31, 2015 at 11:17

      I am one of those dreamers who believe that the local market or our own back yards are enough to put food on the table. To me and others, vegetarianism will provide all the nutrition we need without killing animals that share Earth with us. Hunting, whether it’s Cecil or deer is unnecessary.

      As for Gov. Otter’s protecting Idaho’s sheep or cattle at the behest of ranchers and hunters, not only is he kissing the hems of deer hunters, the wolves themselves are targets for the hunters. Bonding, outdoor fun and sport can be achieved in a variety of ways without killing. It’s going to take years of education and gun restrictions before the attitudes of Gov. Otter, the ranchers and hunters can be replaced with rationality. The big question is: Do we have time?

  3. Turns out that most of you are in a track that I don’t agree with. The idea that going to the market for meat is somehow better than killing a wild animal doesn’t make any sense to me. Let’s take the most obvious example – medium size birds, say a wild pheasant and a factory grown chicken.

    The pheasant lives its life in the natural environment, breeds and raises it’s chicks the natural way, enjoys whatever birds enjoy about their young, teaching them life skills and seeing them grow. Then one day a human that chooses to eat meat ends it’s life.

    The chicken is raised in a cage the size of it’s body, chickens in higher cages defecate on it, it lays eggs it never even sees, it’s limbs wouldn’t support it even if it could walk around. Then one day a human that chooses to eat meat ends it’s life.

    If I could be a pheasant or a chicken it’s obvious to me which life I would choose. We torture animals to put them into the market. We leave wild animals alone to live normal lives. If it’s only the food aspect, how could we choose the market meat?

    Remember I’m totally opposed to trophy or sport hunting.

      • Don Bay on September 1, 2015 at 10:22

      Assuming you read my earlier blog piece “Eat Your Veggies,” you know that being a vegetarian is far more desirable than eating meat, but the current piece is about hunting.

      Your final line states your total opposition to both trophy hunting and sport hunting. That is inconsistent with shooting a pheasant for the table. There is no doubt that too many chickens (reasonably intelligent creatures) are raised in inhumane conditions for human consumption and that ag/gag laws have been enacted in several states to prevent us from discovering those horrible conditions. Further, the local market carries such chickens and other dead animals for human tables, but those same markets carry vegetables.

      Your point is well-taken and quite valid, but this piece is about hunting. I appreciate and agree with the point you are making, but I believe that arguing for hunting pheasants in place of going to the local market weakens your opposition to sport hunting. Both of us would like to see hunting severely curtailed, and the local market is the better choice in an imperfect world.

    • Don Bay on September 27, 2015 at 17:56

    This pingback states the facts that everybody should know and deplore. Cecil, the lion, will never return to his cubs, but Walter Palmer is proud of his cowardly act and has now returned to his practice.

  1. […] On August 30, I published a blog piece detailing the illegal killing of Cecil the protected and much…Cecil was lured out of the Hwange Park preserve and killed by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer who is now being sought by Zimbabwe’s government on poaching charges. The United States government is studiously ignoring Zimbabwe, and trophy hunter Palmer has returned to his dental practice. […]

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