I don’t know about you, but my own personal FB feed has been flooded with this story. And I can’t seem to let it go, it just cuts so deeply.
I am equal parts saddened, enraged, frustrated, and dumbfounded at the senselessness of it all. But I’m also encouraged and hopeful as a result of the international dialogue that has taken hold. Because the reality is that innocent animals just like Cecil are hunted every day – animals that just as much deserve to live. But for the most part, their deaths are nothing more than a blip on the radar of the animal rights movement. In my humble opinion Cecil’s murder is no more – and no less – worthy of tears than the lion in the photo circulating that Dr. Palmer killed on an earlier hunt, or of any other animal murdered for sport whether it be Cecil, or Simba, or Buddy or the hundreds of thousands of unnamed victims. To me, (and it would appear to many others), this is not merely condemnation over an “illegal” hunt, but about the hunt at all. A hunt where a trusting, gentle, innocent creature was intentionally lured outside protective boundaries to be mercilessly killed in an unfair match. Reportedly, Dr. Palmer…. deeply regrets that (his) pursuit of an activity (he) loves and practices responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion. “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”. Apparently, he would have preferred to have murdered and mutilated a lesser known lion. He just doesn’t get it.
Cecil’s death has struck a chord with so many, and in this moment, there provides a stage to elevate the debate on this topic and hopefully serve to move the world toward a more compassionate place. This is an age-old debate between hunters and animal rights activists – never before resonating with the mainstream public so profoundly. So if it takes the kind of fame and special connection that Cecil had to get the public riled up about the sick “sport” of game hunting, then let’s make the most of it. This horrific incident and the worldwide outrage that has ensued, could be the galvanizing force to pave the way for much-needed reform related to big game hunting and the protection of wildlife. As a visibly shaken Jimmy Kimmel so rightly urges, “… it is important to have some good come of this disgusting tragedy”.
There is something disturbingly twisted about a cowardly, rich, well-armed tourist hiring minions to help him feel powerful and mighty by pulling out his high-powered weapon to take the life of one of the world’s most revered, magnificent, powerful creatures. Qualities the hunter so desperately covets, yet will never attain. His merciless killing and then vulgar display of the severed head will only appeal to a select few. He’ll boast of his exploits and puff out his chest as he chuckles about the victim of his most recent conquest. His heartless friends will admire his skill and “courage” over stiff drinks. The corpse of the animal once a mighty King, will stare hollowly, eyes wide open, down an empty corridor – selfishly stolen from the world for the benefit of a few. Never again to grace the plains with his majesty. Never again to bring joy to the many who ventured far and wide in awe of Cecil, to observe and photograph him in his home. Never again to lead his pride and to protect his cubs. Never again to feel the earth under his feet, the sun on his back or take a breath of fresh air. Because of one man’s greed and vanity, an innocent life was cut short. All Cecil wanted was to be left alone.
As a staunch animal rights advocate, I feel it is my responsibility to continue to share information as it surfaces and engage people in this conversation so long as there is momentum around the situation and people are interested. We all know how fickle the general public can be. So for now, if this story moves you, please share it, talk about it, express your views, sign petitions. SCREAM for Cecil!! Do all you can to ensure that Cecil’s death was not in vain. So that there will be a time when public sentiment won’t stand for this type of callous killing and when poor African nations won’t be exploited and feel they must do deals with the devil in a vain attempt to generate income to fund conservation. Sacrificing a few to save the rest. It is time to ban the cruel and barbaric practice of trophy hunting. Keep this story alive until something changes for the better. It begs the question I saw posed earlier today – “Can one lion wake the world”?
I certainly hope so.
True honor, courage, dignity and admiration come so naturally to the innocent victim of this crime. I have to wonder if the perpetrator derives some level of perverted self-esteem from a misplaced ownership of these qualities by overpowering (unfairly, I might add), the most powerful “king of the jungle”. Overcoming his own cowardice and insecurities by slaughtering a magnificent creature.
There is something to be said about the justice of how this story is playing out, about watching the tables turn. The irony of the “fearless hunter” becoming the hunted in the court of public opinion is certainly not lost on me.
Enjoy your moment in the spotlight, Walter Palmer. You’ve earned it.