Theo Bronkhorst, Trynone Ndlovu, and Water Palmer were accused of killing Cecil, a 13 year old lion in Zimbabwe. Palmer, a dentist and a big game hunter who lives in Minnesota, paid at least $50,000 to set up the kill. Allegedly, the lion was lured out of its sanctuary with food and a special scent. It was then shot with a bow and arrow, left to suffer for 40 hours, and subsequently killed with a gun.
Afterwards, it was skinned and beheaded with the body left in the dirt. The lion was also a public favorite, and was participating in an Oxford University study. Palmer and his hunting guides also tried to destroy the GPS collar on Cecil. “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 […] I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal.” – Palmer.
Palmer publicly apologized, only to later go into hiding, in hopes to let the anger and public disgust fade away. When officials knocked on the door of Palmer’s house, no one answered. Big game hunting was one of Palmer’s hobbies and there are many pictures of him standing over dead animals, such as a leopard and a rhino. Palmer was also accused of illegally killing a black bear in Wisconsin.
There are now hundreds of petitions and protests against the killing of the lion. One online petition has more than 210,000 signatures. At Palmer’s vacation house in Florida, there were signs reading, “Rot In Hell,” on each of the outside doors. A pile of stuffed animals was also left at the front door. Comments on multiple facebook pages related to the event have comments using words such as, sick, disgusting, and pathetic. The hashtag #WaterPalmer has been used to protest against the poaching.
The death of Cecil also has a damaging effect on the pride. Since Cecil was the leader of his pride, he had multiple cubs. Now, with him gone, the next male in the lion hierarchy has taken over and is trying to mate with the females and kill Cecil’s cubs. One cub has been killed already, and officials say that the remaining will soon die out as well.
Hunting endangered animals for sport, and threatening the other animals in that ecosystem is a crime, legal or illegal. What would happen if all lions died out? What about all the other animals that are illegally poached in the world? There are still many animals in the world suffering from poaching. The population of lions has decreased by 60%, tigers by 98%, and the black rhino by 96%. What about all the animals that are not seen in many zoos? The pangolin, saola, and amur leopard. These animals need help. Use the death of Cecil as a reminder that we cause animals much harm, and we need to fix it.