Cecil – the name that seems to be on everyone’s lips these past couple of days, from work colleagues to Jimmy Fallon everyone is talking about it. The mass media coverage of one man’s mission to find and kill a wild animal, in an attempt to make his life more ‘exciting’, has received so much attention that it could be well on its way to becoming the news story of the year. But why, I ask myself is this the only case that has sparked fury in the general public? Killing for sport is not a new concept, for hundreds of years the UK has been linked with fox hunting (which has only just been banned), we also slaughter billions of animals a year to eat and we wear their skin. There are thousands of people who have payed, and will pay again, to kill animals in the wild.
Cecil was a young 13 year old lion, standing proud until early July when he was lured out of a national park and injured with a crossbow. His natural life ended by an unnatural gunshot hours afterwards. The American dentist, Walter Palmer reportedly paid $50,000 for the privilege of ending Cecil’s life. But he is not alone. There are many places, such as Zimbabwe, where people can pay to hunt wild animals in order to raise money for conservation. I have never heard such a contradictory statement in my life; killing animals to fund conservation.
“Now it is pleasant to hunt something that you want very much over a long period of time, being outwitted, out-manoeuvred, and failing at the end of each day, but having the hunt and knowing every time you are out that, sooner or later, your luck will change and that you will get the chance that you are seeking.” – Ernest Hemingway, while on a 3 month hunting trip in Kenya and Tanzania in 1933.
Banning countries from offering this ‘service’ will be too hard to regulate but trophy hunting must stop with us. I will never understand how Palmer, and the many others like him, could have pulled the trigger. But after such a negative reaction from the world, I am hoping that more and more people will open their eyes to the issues and popularity of trophy hunting.
There is an African proverb that reads “until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best parts of the story” I believe this is changing. With the world’s expanding communication and understanding, we can write new stories together. Cecil will long be the face of an anti-poaching campaign that has only just truly begun; the meaning of his name translates as ‘blind’ and we will refuse to be! The voices of the hunted will be heard.