- by Judy Molland
- July 28, 2015
- 7:00 pm
Cecil the lion (seen above), who was 13, was one of Zimbabwe’s most famous and prized lions and a star attraction at Hwange National Park. A video of the animal, regal, indifferent and looking sleepy, has been widely disseminated.
The head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) told the BBC that Cecil “never bothered anybody” and was “one of the most beautiful animals to look at”.
The iconic animal had a GPS collar fitted several years ago for a research and project by Oxford University that allowed authorities to track its movements, but Walter Palmer, a dentist from a small town near Minnesota, didn’t seem to care. He had paid $55,000 for the chance to kill a lion, and he wanted his money’s worth.
How Cecil Died
According to Johnny Rodrigues, head of the ZCTF, on July 6, professional hunter Theo Bronchorst took Palmer to Hwange National Park.
“They went hunting at night with a spotlight, and they spotted Cecil,” Rodrigues said. “They tied a dead animal to their vehicle to lure Cecil out of the park, and they scented an area about half a kilometer from the park.”
Cecil took the bait and came closer, at which point Palmer fired his bow-and-arrow, managing to shoot the lion.
But Cecil didn’t die; instead he stumbled around, wounded, for 40 hours, before the two men found him and shot him with a gun.
The Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association confirmed Cecil was killed on private land outside the park, and an investigation is ongoing into the legality of the hunt.
Over 226,000 People Demand Justice For Cecil
Responding to this horrific and brutal murder, Care2 member Ruth McD created a petition demanding justice for Cecil the lion, and her petition has already garnered over 226,000 signatures — for now, that is. The number of petitions signers is going up so fast, we can’t keep up!
How on earth can any human being be proud of such cowardly and inhumane behavior? How can Dr. Palmer dare to hold his head up after murdering a wounded animal that couldn’t run away?
Even worse, according to Rodrigues, when the two men saw the GPS collar on the lion’s neck, they tried to destroy it.
They then beheaded and skinned Cecil, and left his rotting carcass lying outside the park.
Are such people seeking to prove their superior nature by their ability to murder innocent animals? How can they take joy in such acts?
According to the BBC, Mr. Palmer defended his actions and insisting that his guides had secured “all proper permits” for the hunt.
“I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt,” he said in a statement on July 28.
He said he had not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or the U.S. but said he “will assist them in any inquiries they may have.”
“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,” Palmer’s statement read. “I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”
I don’t hear any sign of sadness or recognition of what a horrible action he committed, nor what havoc he has wrought.
Cecil’s Murderer Never Had a Hunting Permit
In fact, the situation is even worse. Rodrigues told NPR, “We got the information that … there was no quota, no license or permit for that area and that the people that actually lured the animal didn’t have a permit. There was no allocation for these animals in that area and that’s how it was found out.”
As a result, two Zimbabwean men – a professional hunter and a farm owner – have been charged with poaching offences because the group did not have a hunting permit.
They could face up to 15 years in prison in Zimbabwe if they are found guilty. They are due to appear in court on July 29.
And what about Palmer? Will he be brought to justice?
Making matters worse is the fact that with Cecil dead, Jericho, who is the next lion in the hierarchy, will almost certainly kill all Cecil’s six recently born cubs, so that he can take over and insert his own bloodline into the female lions.
Palmer is a big game hunter, who hunts the world over, so Cecil was just another target for the dentist to check off.
Palmer’s love of hunting is no secret. In 2009, he was interviewed by the New York Times about his paying $45,000 at auction to take part in the slaying of a prize elk; the article also noted that the dentist had learned to shoot at age five and was “capable of skewering a playing card from 100 yards with his compound bow,” As the hunting season began, Palmer was on probation for lying to authorities over the exact location where he had killed a black bear in northern Wisconsin in 2006.
People on social media are not impressed. Not only have over 226,000 people signed Care2’s petition, but angry commenters have inundated the Yelp and Google Review pages for Palmer’s dental practice, and he has been vilified worldwide, as #CecilTheLion quickly became a top worldwide trending topic on Twitter.
So cheers to the thousands who’ve posted negative “reviews” of the dentist on Yelp, maybe the fastest-growing Yelp campaign ever. Let’s keep spreading the word–people should know their dental-care dollars finance this horrific person’s killing magnificent beasts for sport.
Perhaps it’s not so surprising that this is happening in Zimbabwe. Remember how the president of Zimbabwe celebrated his 91st birthday? His guests were fed a young elephant, and in addition two buffaloes, two sables and five impalas were donated to the president by a local landowner. He also threw in a lion and a crocodile to be stuffed as an extra gift for Mugabe.
Take Action Now
Zimbabwe, like many African countries, is battling to curb illegal hunting and poaching which threatens to make some of its wildlife extinct. About a century ago there were around 200,000 lions roaming across Africa but that figure has dropped to less than 30,000 in recent years.
Rodrigues is deeply concerned about hunters like Palmer: “It’s very big. And the whole thing, this has been going on too long. We’ve already lost about 23 lions, collared lions, which are being studied and researched on. And this is where the problem comes in.”
He believes strongly that the government must bring in hunting bans on certain species of animals, like the lion, so that this never happens again. If you agree, please sign the petition to demand justice for Cecil! Tell Zimbabwe to stop issuing hunting permits to kill endangered animals.