I’m a passionate person by nature, like plenty of other human beings. So, when something happens in the world that breaks the hearts of millions, I always wonder, ‘What can I do about this?’
If you’ve asked yourself that question as well, then you know how frustrating it can feel when you watch the news or read upsetting articles online. There’s so many people on this planet, so many creatures, and often times it’s forgotten how intricately connected we truly are.
With all of the different territories, different cultures, different religions, different beliefs and a difference in morals across the board, how can any individual think that they are better or worth more than the person next to them? And how are people to decide which animals are worthy to live beside us in harmony (i.e. our dogs, cats and pet hamsters and snakes) and which are simply here for us to use as we see fit for food and supplies or entertainment (i.e. cows, pigs, chickens, the circus elephants and tigers)? Before you panic and think, ‘OMG, this is going to be one of those pro-Vegan PETA posts, I’m bugging out now!’ It’s really not. This post is actually about Cecil, the African lion.
Unless you live under a rock, or were somewhere where there was no wifi for the last month, you’ve probably heard about what happened this summer when an American Dentist, a trophy hunter, reportedly paid $50,000 for the chance to hunt and kill an African lion, and thus, the demise of the beloved and internationally popular Cecil, a subject of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, began. After being injured by Walter Palmer’s bow and arrow, Cecil was tracked and shot to death, skinned and his head removed. And this was done in the name of sport. Despite the fact that Cecil was tagged, and rumored to be lured out of his protected park, Walter Palmer made the calculated choice to travel to Zimbabwe, hire locals to assist him, and kill a lion – for the hell of it. He was fully aware of and responsible for his actions. Now the world is aflutter because Walter Palmer possibly broke laws doing so, and yes, he should be held responsible. With the killing of Cecil, millions around the world are now learning about lion conservation efforts and who Cecil was, and what impact his death could have.
This is a warning for all trophy hunters: The World is watching you.
Trophy Hunting is not a sport. Killing for thrill is not a sport. And Cecil the lion is just one of many, many thousands who lose their lives each year for ‘sport’ on top of the illegal acts committed by poachers. What about elephants and rhinos killed for their tusks? Lions not protected in a reserve? Tigers killed for their pelts and heads. Bears for their claws. In our lifetime, we could see the extinction of some of these beautiful wild animals. Trophy Hunting, poaching, the illegal trade industry of endangered species driven by supply and demand (it’s all about the money, y’all) – all decimating some of the most amazing creatures on Earth. There’s now only 30,000 lions on the continent of Africa. 30,000. And there’s 2,500 black rhinos left in the world. Our children and their children may end up knowing these animals only in pictures or zoos. It’s a depressing and bleak future, if it continues on the same path.
For those of you outraged by Cecil’s death, like me, what can we do? To start, we need to stay educated about the world, not just our own backyards, and what’s happening in it, and we need to use our voices when something deplorable happens. We need to act. It should be made nearly impossible for the next Walter Palmer out there to bait, hunt and kill these animals, who have just as much right to live on the Earth as we people do. Humans should be the protectors of the world and its inhabitants, not the ones hell-bent on destructing it. This is our home, and we need to preserve and respect it. Where, exactly, will we flee to if we destroy the place we live?
Some may be thinking, ‘But, it’s just one lion.’ No, no it’s not just one lion. An entire pride can be wiped out by other male lions and predators when the leader of a pride dies or leaves. The cubs as well as other male lions are killed. The entire pride suffers. In Cecil’s case, it seems that another male lion from his pride named Jericho might be protecting the pride’s cubs. There’s hope that Cecil’s blood line will live on. But the irresponsible and selfish taking of his life could have meant the wiping out of an entire pride – all in the name of ‘Trophy Hunting’. It’s not just one lion. It’s never just one big cat, one elephant, one rhino, one tiger, one giraffe, one bear, one buck.
The Animal Planet channel has a fabulous page on their website about how we can help make our voices known. I urge you to check out the page, learn about what it is people can do to help, and how there is hope for a future where every Cecil of the world can roam free with the dignity and respect they deserve. Follow THIS LINK for more info. Animal Planet states on their site:
Animal Planet is outraged and heartbroken by the recent killing of Cecil the lion. The network strongly opposes the deplorable practice of trophy hunting, asserting that it devastates conservation efforts, reduces wildlife populations and weakens the populations’ gene pools.
Educate yourself. Speak out. Take action. One voice may not seem like much, but it only takes one person to start a movement, and movements bring about change. Those three things – Learn, Speak, Act – can help us all make the changes needed to protect the beautiful wonders of our world, ensuring a future for not just them, but for us as well.
What, exactly, will trophy hunters tell their grand-children about lions when they cease to exist in the wild? Will they gather up these youngsters for story time under their trophy wall full of dead animal heads and hides and say, ‘Kids, your grandpa was partly responsible for this, aren’t you proud of me?’
For every Walter Palmer out there that thinks taking down a lion makes them a bigger man (or woman) – I beg you to instead take up a hobby that does no harm. One that promotes health and life, not suffering and death. I challenge you to make the changes in your life that will make your actions part of the solution, not part of the problem. Cecil the Lion was a beautiful animal, a beautiful being. Please, don’t take any more like him away from us. Animals are not trophies.