Today, the news has been set alight by the identity of the hunter who made headlines when he shot dead a well-known thirteen year old Lion named Cecil. The hunter, recently named as Walter Palmer, is devastated by his mistake of killing a “well-known” lion saying “it was a magnificent, mature lion. We did not know it was well-known lion. I had a license for my client to shoot a lion with a bow and arrow in the area where he was shot” he said. The lion was lured about half a mile outside the park and was indeed shot using a bow and arrow. Later he was found wounded by hunters and was then beheaded and skinned.
Let’s think about what Walter Palmer has said. He did not realize that it was a “well-known lion” and is “devastated” by the mistake.
Although Cecil was well known and loved by visitors in the country’s Hwange National Park, this is not the real tragedy of his death. It’s much bigger than this. The real problem here is that if the hunter had not killed this “well known” lion he would’ve killed another less “well known” lion and it would’ve gone unnoticed and deemed okay. Why?
Why should any killing of a lion be okay?
Nearly 30,000 lions are believed to roam the wild of Africa today. 29 countries worldwide are home to lions including 28 in Africa and 1 in Asia. Yet, they are extinct in 28 countries and only Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambian and Zimbabwe are believed to each contain more than 1000 lions.
If hunters keep killing lions the way they do it is believed that by the year 2030 there will be no more lions left in Kenya as approximately 100 of its 2000 wild lions are killed every year by humans.
Director of Panthera’s Leopard Program, Dr. Guy Balme, has said “Lions have slipped under the conservation radar for too long. If we do not act now, lions will find themselves in the same dire predicament as their Asian counterpart, the tiger. Panthera is uniquely positioned through its network of partners to guide lion conservation at a rangewide scale. We need to tackle the problem at this level if we hope to ensure a future for Africa’s great cat.”
One of the main threats to the lives of lions is the decreasing space for their habitation. Humans are constantly expanding the agriculture frontier. This means lions and humans crossing paths and mostly resulting in a lion’s death given the perceived threat to a farmer’s livestock.
We are fully aware of the danger that lions are in, yet we still allow this to happen. Why is lion hunting still a sport?
Trophy hunting is a “sport” in which lions hunted in Africa are killed, and then exported to foreign countries as trophies. 60% of lions killed for “sport” in Africa are shipped to the United States as trophies.
Trophy hunting is obviously bad for the lion’s sake but it’s worse than you may think. Not only do they kill lions but they mostly aim to kill the healthiest-looking or the “main lion” of the pack. By killing a lion of this status they leave the rest of the pack vulnerable and to fend for themselves. With the leader of the pack gone there is often many brawls between other lions to fill that space, which results in many more deaths. The newly elected main lion often will often kill the cubs left behind by the lion killed by trophy hunters which in turn wipes out a whole generation of lions.
Palmer claimed that he had a license to kill; he believed that he was on a “legal hunt” and that he relied on the guides to find him a legitimate lion to kill.
It is an outrage that you can purchase a license that will allow you to kill such a beautiful animal. The American dentist is believed to have paid $50,000 (£32,000) to go on this hunt in Zimbabwe. It seems like so much money just to murder an animal that we have so very few of.
To sign a petition to ask Zimbabwe to stop issuing kill licenses, visit the Justice for Cecil website here.