The tragedy of Cecil

We must put a stop to American arrogance that says killing majestic animals is OK for the right price

The media—and the Internet in particular—have been exploding over the news of Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer’s involvement in the killing of a beloved lion named Cecil in Africa. Cecil, a 13-year-old black-mane lion, was often seen wandering the grounds of a Zimbabwean national park.

According to CNN, Palmer reportedly paid between $50,000 and $55,000 for the hunt, which included luring Cecil with food out of the park and shooting him with a bow and arrow, which wounded but didn’t kill him. Forty hours later, the hunting group tracked the lion down and shot him with a gun before skinning and beheading him. What’s more, as a dominant male, Cecil’s death could have further repercussions, as it could lead to additional losses as other males fight to take his place in his pride, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Palmer issued a statement after the Internet unleashed a firestorm against him. He insists he enlisted professional guides to ensure a legal hunt. But the truth is, the Zimbabwean landowner and hunting guide were scheduled to appear in court Wednesday (July 29) on illegal poaching charges—the landowner wasn’t allotted a lion in his 2015 hunting quota. While lion numbers aren’t as low as, say, black rhinos (a Texan reportedly paid $350,000 to kill one in Namibia earlier this year), they are dwindling, according to IFAW. In the past three decades, they’ve declined 60 percent. Killing any lion should be forbidden.

We are deeply saddened by the loss of Cecil, but encouraged by the rage rippling through the American people in its wake. Big-game hunting is an expensive sport mostly practiced by rich Americans. We must stop this arrogant behavior. Sure, we can join the masses and berate Palmer on his Facebook or Yelp sites, but let’s step it up a notch. Sign the online petition requesting the Zimbabwean government ban trophy hunting. Donate to IFAW or one of the many other organizations working to put an end to trophy hunting, particularly of endangered species. With our action, Cecil’s legacy will live on.