This week a beautiful, long-lived, and non-threatening lion was murdered in Africa. A lot has been said already about it but everyone needs an outlet and this struck a chord with me so hard the strings broke.
Hunting has been a part of human culture, likely since before we developed tools. Man is nature, and nature is a place where a balance of creatures that consume other creatures to survive is good for the ecosystem. So, despite the fact that there are problems with the conditions in which some food animals are kept, people eating animals is natural. I’m not from a culture of hunters or farmers so the idea of killing something myself to eat it sounds horrific, but I can respect, just like the wolf eats a deer, that it is done for the purposes of survival. I’m not going into the vegetarian vs omnivore argument too much here, just pointing out that an excuse can be made for some hunting.
Now. Trophy hunting is evil. It is something that wealthy Westerners have been doing for entertainment in the Africa, often exploiting the desperate poverty of its people, for centuries. This is something that is not for food, not for safety, and not for population control (though admittedly in the US the reason we have to hunt animals like deer for population control is because our American ancestors killed all the natural predators…I’ve seen the payments for wolf pelts from the 18th and 19th Centuries…). Trophy hunting is so a person can, in the safety of a controlled environment, slaughter what is basically a helpless animal for ENTERTAINMENT. Ending a life, not for any viable purpose, but just because they get a gruesome thrill from it. It’s the kind of thing that, if you did it in a neighborhood, ambushing the local dogs and cats, would get you arrested by the police and probably killed by your pet-friendly neighbors.
Cecil was a lovely lion who never caused harm and helped researchers learn more about how lions live. His death has shed light on this issue because he was a bit of a celebrity. The sociopath who killed him said he “didn’t know the lion was known.” My argument: who cares if he was known? You killed another living being, dismembered it and attempted to take part of him back to hang on your wall. You lured him out of his home with food, hid in all the safety that $55,000 could buy, maimed him with an arrow, causing him to suffer for nearly two days before approaching him with a high-powered rifle and killing him in an even more helpless state. Anyone who cherishes life should grieve for Cecil. But I think we should grieve for every helpless animal murdered by some power-hungry killer. Celebrity or not. “Big Game” or not. What the vicious killer did to Cecil is the rich person’s version of kids pulling wings off of flies. And it’s done for the same reason; because they get a rush from harming others and the ones they harm are incapable of reciprocating.
The only punishment fit for people like this is to find a General Zaroff’s Chateau and let them experience the pain and fear they have caused on the creatures they’ve hunted. Though even Rainsford was given a fighting chance…
If there is a positive that comes out of this it will be that nearly every common-sense outlet has been united in the horrific, senseless, and likely criminal killing of Cecil the Lion. And those of us who care about the future of the natural world can only hope that Cecil’s Legacy helps save the lives of other animals endangered by the cruel selfishness of some of the humans who share their planet.