From all corners of the Internet, I have been reading about Cecil the Lion. Cecil was a major tourist draw at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, has been identified as the man who paid at least $50,000 to “ensure a legal hunt.” Palmer admits to killing Cecil but says he didn’t know the animal’s significance. Cecil had been tracked by conservationists for years and wore a GPS collar. When Palmer and his guides, Theo Bronchorst and Honest Trymore Ndlovu, caught and killed the animal they tried to destroy the GPS collar.
Palmer is a known trophy hunter who uses a cross bow to hunt with. It took the hunters another 40 hours to track down Cecil and kill him with a gun.
“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt,” CNN reports Palmer saying in a statement.
Cecil’s killing has sparked renewed momentum against trophy hunting. In 2013, the Dallas Safari Club auctioned off the chance for a hunter to kill the endangered black rhinoceros in Namibia. In April, Rebecca Francis received notoriety when Ricky Gervais posted a tweet with a picture of her next to a dead animal showing his disgust of the sport and in 2014 pictures of Kendall Jones became public and she began her YouTube series .
Celebrities on Twitter and other forms of social media have been posting their outrage over the death of Cecil. Some are angry over the way he was killed and others angry at the hunter. Still others protest the sport.
There is no excuse for the death of Cecil and I hope that all three men are charged with poaching. I cannot pretend to understand the laws in Zimbabwe and understand the intricacies of big game hunting. I personally do not understand the need or the want of a person to shoot a large animal purely for sport. Killing an animal for food cultural reasons, or for population control are all reasons for hunting that have merit. But for just a trophy–just its head and pelt–I personally do not understand.