A dentist named Palmer paid $50,000 for a license to kill a lion in Zimbabwe. He did so with his compound hunting bow, contrary to reports that he used a “cross bow.” Dr. Palmer did everything right except for the fact that he killed a rock star lion who had been lured off the preserve where he had sanctuary. The Lion’s name was Cecil. He was 13 years old. There were, maybe, a few hundred Americans who had ever heard of him just as 99% of Americans couldn’t find Zimbabwe on a map. It seems that most Zimbabweans had not heard of Cecil either.
The problem was that Cecil looked like a large stuffed lion that my daughter, Natalie, and tens of thousands of other girls had growing up. The killing triggered a sympathetic response. That’s understandable but this matter has exploded into an international crisis and, now the US Fish and Wildlife Service has announced it will investigate to see, I presume, if a US hunting law was violated by the hunting in Zimbabwe. That’s a bit much.
Dr. Palmer is in fear for his life and his dental practice is a shambles along with the lives of his staff. That’s serious damage and it has to stop. We also need to look at what is being missed in the fury raised by this event. First, Cecil is a 13 year old male lion living in the wild. I was on safari near Kruger Park in South Africa last year. The guide and I discussed lions and he said they live about 10 years until a younger male kills them. Cecil was living on borrowed time. Some rival male has already taken his place in the pride.
There is no international traffic in lions’ heads that I know of. However, two of my favorite animals, the elephant and black rhino are being hunted to extinction. This is serious. These are two of the most magnificent African animals. They are hunted for their tusks and horns that have huge value in Asia. Maybe the US Fish and Wildlife Service can find some time and money for those animals, but, alas, they are seeking publicity and not attempting to do anything valuable.