Over the past couple of days the Internet went into overdrive over the news that a beloved living symbol of Zimbabwe, Cecil the Lion, was lured from the nature preserve (where it was illegal to hunt) into the open wilderness (where hunting is permissible with the appropriate permits) where he was initially shot with a bow and arrow then subsequently killed with a shotgun. His tracking collar, which was placed on him by people from Oxford University, was removed. He was also beheaded and skinned.
Cecil was a very valuable living creature to the tourist industry in a nation whose financial struggles stem from both its colonial past and the fact that an original hero of the revolution that drove away the colonists, Robert Mugabe, ended up becoming a corrupt and brutal despot (which, sadly, is a common story in Africa and in many other parts of the world). Two of the suspects, Theo Brinkhorst and Honest Ndlovu, are Zimbabwean and they have since been arrested.
The third suspect is an American dentist named Walter Palmer, whose payment of US$50,000 set that whole unnecessary killing in motion, is back in the U.S. free as a bird while social media has exploded big time. My news feed on both Facebook and Twitter have become so flooded with Cecil the Lion posts that I had to step away from those two sites. There’s an online petition with the White House calling for the U.S. government to extradite him back to Zimbabwe. His dental practice was suddenly flooded on Yelp.com with all kinds of negative reviews that were more focused on what he did in Zimbabwe than his skills as a dentist. Walter Palmer has also gone into hiding while lamenting that he didn’t know that he killed such a beloved symbol of Zimbabwe. (Never mind the fact that the tracking collar from Oxford University would’ve indicated that this animal was somehow important to someone because one doesn’t normally go through the effort of putting tracking collars on wild animals for the sheer fun of it.)
This whole incident brings back recent memories of when I tried to sell that Revenge Against Kendall Jones parody art on Etsy last December.
I got so many hostile messages from people accusing me of being one of those radical vegan PETA tree-hugging types who would have the audacity to pick on a “poor” young college cheerleader while claiming that she did no wrong when some of the animals she killed for sport are considered endangered species.
I’m so glad that there is outcry from Cecil’s killing. It further makes those who defended Kendall Jones seem like total idiots. (See that other post if you want to read what they’ve written. Many of them also have Etsy shops so it would give you an idea as to which of them you should consider boycotting not only for their repugnant views but also for their unwillingness to just ignore my shop and, instead, take the time to send harassing messages at me.)
I’m not some animal rights extremist who thinks that all forms of hunting and fishing should be banned and everyone should go vegan only. In fact, I’ve long believed that it’s permissible for humans to kill animals only for one of the following reasons.
2) Self-defense, especially in a situation where your life is in immediate danger and there are no other alternatives to staying alive.
3) If an animal is clearly showing signs of being in constant pain or is so severely injured that nothing can be done to save it so a mercy killing is in order.
Kendall Jones, Walter Palmer, and others of their ilk (such as Ted Nugent and Kid Rock) hunt and kill animals for sport. In other words, they kill because they derive sheer fun and joy from the act of killing itself. (For an example, read what Ted Nugent has said about his hunting exploits in the past.) Sometimes they may eat the meat from the animals they kill but that’s not the primary reason why they hunt. They simply love killing and they also frequently skin the hides and decapitate the dead animals to bring back home with them so they can prove to others that, hey, they really and truly killed that animal. People like them bring shame and dishonor to the vast majority of law-abiding hunters who only kill what they can eat and who also take it in stride if they go on a hunting trip where they don’t kill an animal due to bad luck. (I’ve known many hunters who’ve gone on such hunting trips where they weren’t lucky enough to kill a single animal. They tend to take an “oh well, it is what it is” attitude.) They would never think of going on so-called “canned” hunts where animals are raised on a farm or preserve to be trusting of humans until the moment a hunter singles them out for slaughter.
Cecil the Lion wasn’t hunted for food. Granted in some parts of Africa people sometimes eat lion meat but many of them don’t. Here’s a personal confession: I once tried a small portion of lion meat a few years back when my then-husband and I had won an auction at our church where a fellow member was giving a South African-style braai (barbecue) based on his business trips to that nation and he managed to obtain some lion meat for the occasion. He had to serve very tiny bite-sized portions because the meat was very expensive. Having tried it, I have to admit that I wasn’t impressed by it. I sort of remembered that it tasted like beef but, otherwise, it was pretty forgettable.
It was so obvious that Walter Palmer wasn’t looking for food to feed himself and his family because 1) he has a history of paying big money to go on African safaris so he could kill exotic animals and 2) he could have easily stayed home in Minnesota and gone hunting and fishing in places near his home and saved the thousands of dollars he spent killing Cecil.
Walter Palmer also didn’t kill Cecil in self-defense because that lion had long been known for being comfortable around humans and he had never made any threatening gestures towards tourists who took pictures of him. The fact that the lion had to be lured from that nature preserve in the first place proves that Palmer’s life was never in any kind of danger from Cecil.
Cecil was also a relatively young lion so his death was clearly not a mercy killing.
The killing of Cecil was not only devastating to his pride but also to the nation of Zimbabwe since, as a tourist attraction, he was way more valuable alive than dead. Had Cecil lived another 20 years, he probably would’ve generated far bigger revenue than the $50,000 that Walter Palmer paid so he could have the thrill of killing him. The end of this article mentions that less than 0.5% of Zimbabwe’s GDP comes from trophy hunting itself and the benefits often fail to reach ordinary Zimbabweans.
On top of it, I’ve read stories about concerns that, unless something radical is done in many African nations where lions roam free, they may become extinct by 2050.
I’ve heard recently that Costa Rica has banned hunting for sport. I think it’s a great idea and I wish there was such a law in the U.S. but I know that there would be too much resistance from wealthy hunters for the U.S. government to ever institute a similar ban. But there is one thing that the U.S. government can do that would put a major dent in the hunting ambitions of people like Kendall Jones and Walter Palmer: Ban the import of any part of a dead animal that’s on the endangered species list. No endangered animal heads for trophies. No endangered animal pelts. No endangered animal limbs. No endangered animal bones. No endangered animal organs. Nothing. Those who kill endangered animals for sport would be unable to bring home any souvenirs from their expedition and would be forced to leave the body of dead animal they killed behind.
And if they attempt to illegally smuggle those body parts, then they should either be sent to jail, pay a steep fine, or both.
Private companies can aid in this as well. Recently Emirates Airlines stopped carrying hunting trophies of elephants, rhinos, lions, and tigers on its planes. If every airline did this, it would be way too difficult for a hunter to bring back any endangered animal that he/she has killed for sport and it would be a further deterrent since there would be no souvenirs. Ditto for shipping companies, trucking companies, and railroads.
Had such a law been in effect when Cecil the Lion was killed, Walter Palmer would’ve been unable to bring Cecil’s head and pelt back to the U.S. with him and maybe, just maybe, he would’ve thought twice about spending $50,000 to kill an endangered animal that he wouldn’t be able to do anything with after the animal’s death.
Until such a law is passed, there is the White House petition calling on the U.S. government to extradite Walter Palmer to Zimbabwe so he could be brought to justice for his killing of Cecil the Lion.
Right now I’m currently teaching myself Apple Motion at the urging of a friend of mine who is saying that there is a high demand for people with that skill. I need something to practice with and I’m starting to think that this story could somehow be an inspiration. ;-)
In the meantime, I’ll continue to do some LOL-ing at this parody Twitter account: @RiverBluffDental.