The death of Cecil, the Zimbabwean lion has caused an uproar on social media that has greatly defamed an American dentist. Walter palmer, from Minnesota, has had to close his dental practice in Minneapolis as conservationists traced his practice using social media to protest on his doorstep. The words “@rot in Hell” have been put at his doorstep to harshly rebuke him for hunting down a lion. The hashtag #CatLivesMatter has been trending and a Facebook page named “Shame Lion Killer Dr. Walter Palmer and River Bluff Dental” has been created.Dr. Palmer has even had to shut down his website because of the insults that were being posted on his site.
Considering that Zimbabwe has legalised sport hunting as an economic activity, you may wonder why exactly people are being so harsh on Walter Palmer. Currently, 0.29% of Zimbabwe’s GDP comes from trophy hunting and Walter Palmer allegedly paid a huge sum of $54000 to hunt the lion down. So what exactly is the fuss about?
Cecil was not just any lion. Cecil was a collared protected lion and a local favourite who attracted many tourists. He was twelve years old with a beautiful mane that had black streaks. Since 2008, the 12-year-old has been closely studied by scientists from the University of Oxford who were investigating the decline of the lion population in Zimbabwe. He had been carefully kept at Hwange national park for a long time. Zimbabwean conservation group says he was lured out of Hwange National Park by hunters who put a dead animal on top a vehicle for Cecil to follow.
It was these hunters who presented Cecil to Walter Palmer to hunt for sport. Walter palmer has announced that he had no idea what he was doing was illegal and that he trusted his hunting guides to make sure the lion to be hunted was not one of the protected ones. However social media does not understand why Walter finds it so amusing to kill treasured endangered species. Jane Goodall, a famed primatologist and conservationist was quoted saying, “he was not even killed outright but suffered for hours before finally being shot with a bullet…and this behaviour is described as a sport?”
Two Zimbabweans have been charged in court for “failing to prevent unlawful hunt”. Theo Bronkhorst, a professional hunter pleaded not guilty”. The other accused, Honest Ndlovu, a farm owner was released on bail but is to be tried soon.
Walter Palmer has apologised to his patients for killing Cecil. He might face charges for his actions but the media seems unwilling to forgive, especially because he has been a life-long hunter and seems to enjoy this. Walter’s actions have also been controversial seeing that 2009, he donated 45,000 USD to preserve an elk habitat and now he is at the forefront of injustices against wild animals.
There is now fear for Cecil’s cubs as the next lion in hierarchy, Jericho will most likely kill them to insert his bloodline into the females. Zimbabwean conservation force says that it is standard procedure for lions. Apparently, one holiday for an American Dentist had more consequences than he could have thought.
Nevertheless, good has come out of this. Many conservationist are using this publicity to campaign for animal rights and rebuke people like Palmer.
(Header Image Credit: Telegraph)