A century ago, the estimated population of lions is two hundred thousand. Now, they are fewer than thirty thousand. The drastic decline in the number can be largely attributed to human activities. From the loss of habitat, hunting and poaching, to retaliatory killings by livestock owners, lions are close to extinction. That is why it is unfathomable when we hear news about senseless killings of lions.
On July 1, 2015, an international outrage sparked from the killing of Cecil the Lion. Animal conservationists, politicians, celebrities, and many other people voiced out their indignation at the killing of the famous lion.
Cecil the Lion
Named after Cecil Rhodes, Cecil the Lion was a major attraction in the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, drawing many tourists from all over the world and contributing to a hefty revenue for the African country. The magnificent lion was also a part of a larger study conducted by the University of Oxford since 1999. He had a GPS tracking collar that recorded his locational data every two hours.
It was reported that the hunters hunted the thirteen-year-old lion with a bait, shot with an arrow, and tracked for many hours before it was killed with another arrow. Skinned and beheaded, Cecil the Lion was discovered by park investigators. The GPS tracking collar was missing.
The hunt was conducted by Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota who paid $50,000 to Theo Bronkhorst, a professional hunter guide, for lion hunting. As a recreational game hunter, Palmer is no novice to hunting for trophies. He was fined and given a one-year probation for making false statements about a black bear he fatally shot in Wisconsin in 2008.
The killing of Cecil the Lion brings the discussion of game hunting and trophy imports into the forefront. There was a rally for the banning of imports of lion heads to the US and the EU. Three US airlines even agreed to halt the transport of hunting trophies. There were also calls for the government of Zimbabwe to stop giving out hunting permits.
The clinic of Walter Palmer was vandalized. He received a lot of hate messages from enraged people. He was initially called for extradition into Zimbabwe before the charges were dropped three months after the tragic death of Cecil the Lion. Two Zimbabweans were arrested by the police in Zimbabwe.
The death of Cecil the Lion had repercussions to the pride he left behind. When the head of a pride is killed, the new leader typically kills the young cubs. It is a form of infanticide, done to assert the dominance of the new male leader. Thankfully, when Jericho assumed the position as the head of Cecil’s pride, Cecil’s cubs were spared and were even protected from rivals.
Actman, Jani. June 30, 2016. “Cecil the Lion Died One Year Ago—Here’s What’s Happened Since.” Accessed June 7, 2017. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/06/cecil-african-lion-anniversary-death-trophy-hunting-zimbabwe/.
Goldman, Jason. May 5, 2016. “Why did the death of Cecil the lion cause such an uproar?” Accessed June 7, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/05/why-did-death-of-a-single-lion-cecil-cause-such-an-uproar.