Haven’t I said that the African continent is constantly slighted, taken for granted and underestimated? Bear in mind though, the international world only see us for what we show that we are; as said, you are addressed the way you are dressed? How dare you poach animals in a foreign land? I mean who does that? Of course, no African would, at least not to the heart piercing point of flaunting a proud selfie of how much of a trophy hunter he has become. Africa is one of the warmest races that receive people with skilled and unprecedented hospitality. To rub it in our faces, that perhaps our leniency is a guise for timidity, the American dentist, abuses his legal hunting authority in Zimbabwe and kills the legendary zoo lion, Cecil, in Africa’s natural reserve.
In the western/ foreign countries, such things are not done, down to the pigeons in the street. If you do that, you’ll be penalized for it; but here we are, an American does it and it’s not clear if he would finally face charges for it (or ever will be). In any case, the Zimbabwean government is appealing that the American hunter be extradited so that he can face trial for his crimes. I guess the world is looking forward to justice being served.
Reports have it that the international community is appalled by the actions of the dentist who is accused by Zimbabwe’s environment minister, Honorable Oppah Muchinguri, of defying the country’s (Zimbabwean) hunting regulations by luring the deceased but cherished wildlife creature out of Hwange National Park with a bait before shooting him. David Cameron tenders his dismay by suggesting that the world generally should move for the prevention of illegal wildlife trade. Several heads of state have also registered their consternation towards the sad incidence. This shows the level of Cecil’s popularity. Funny enough the lion was more internationally known than in Africa. Don’t be shocked if most Africans and Zimbabweans never knew him till his death, as seen with the surprising response of the acting minister of information of the country, Prisca Mupfumira. Cecil was the major tourist attraction in Hwange Game reserve, and had become so popular because he was particularly friendly with visiting tourists.
Is trophy hunting really worth the death of Cecil? Wayne Pacelle in his CNN Report describes trophy hunting as “the senseless headhunting of animals for self-gratification.”
As if the tragedy was not bad enough, Cecil’s brother and alter ego, Jericho goes missing and many worry about the reality of the supposed death of Jericho, but it has been confirmed that the currently lonely Jericho is still alive, taking care of Cecil’s cubs. However, there are concerns Jericho would not be able to hold the territory of Cecil’s cubs alone and could be chased away by other rival lions. This is really a serious case for the administrators of the reserve. The cat population is currently an endangered specie across Africa, sadly this will be adding to the increasing number of animals – elephants and rhinos – that Africa will be losing to illegal hunting. Statistics show that African lions have reduced by a 50% rate in the past 30 years. consequently, more cases of this will be a dent on the efforts of years past to conserve wildlife in Africa, moreover, this will affect the tourism of Zimbabwe since their safaris are one of the top spots people gladly want to experience. Zimbabwe owns one of the conserves with growing stability in the breeding of lions. The unfortunate incident has put a ban on hunting activities around the area for the time being because if poaching activities go on unchecked and unattended by the government, the worst should still be expected.
This is a clear case of legal right gone over board, Walter Palmer, a 55-year-old dentist from Minnesota, had the legal back up to hunt but that did not include targeting Cecil, a treasured lion under study by the Oxford University. Cecil was 13 years old, special and loved by a lot of people, she was not just shot but also unscrupulously butchered. Very vicious. The brutality of Cecil’s death affected many and attracted world-wide attention to Zimbabwe.
As everyone generally hopes for some sort of good after every tragedy, so is Ms Virginia McKenna’s stand point at the moment. Ms McKenna is a nature advocate who has dedicated the greater part of her life campaigning for the protection of animals through her charity organization – Born Free Foundation. Together with her spouse they took the campaign to the cinema, doing a movie that is themed on the due respect for nature and all that it offers us. In her words, she says “we are killing these beautiful animals for so-called sport. What is such fun about death and killing a beautiful creature? I can’t understand it…”
Mr Bronkhorst, the official guide of the controversial hunting expedition, could face 15 years imprisonment if found guilty of the charges in court. He considers this charges funny and unwarranted since they had the legal green light to hunt down Cecil. On the other hand, the recently taunted and vilified dentist Palmer, has tendered an apology for his preposterous act. He regretfully says he had
“relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt” and “deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”
As remorseful as that sounds, the Zimbabwe government still wishes to let justice run its full course on him and his cohorts. It is understandable that the guide should have known the rules better than the foreigner, in this case it appears they were both novices in the field. The irony of this is that while the accused hunter is pleading for mercy, the local guide is not ashamed to flaunt his incompetence, except there is a part of the story we haven’t heard yet.
Just like Ms McKenna hoped for, major national and international concerns have been raised over the issue of illegal hunting. The Senators of the United States have initiated a movement with U.S. Senator Bob Menendez as their chief person, the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act. This initiative by extension will be addressing issues of importation and exportation of wildlife games. They hope to regulate and protect species of animals listed in the Endangered Species Act, by ensuring that trophy hunters have the appropriate legal right to embark on such venture, in other words, there will be thorough screening of animal trophy importations since the US is the biggest importer of lion trophies from Africa with about 411 importations in a year. An estimated figure of 650 plus lion carcass “trophies” are exported from Africa each year. For Zimbabwe there is likely to be a push towards a firmer protection and promotion of animal rights. The country records about 42 licensed lion hunting and carcass exportation to other countries. Cecil’s brutal demise has prompted the conservation communities to recommend a bill, that will put a ban on the importation of lion trophies to the U.S and European Union.
Though nothing can bring Cecil back, it is believed that this could serve as a warning against illicit/unsupervised hunting. Perhaps the matter will be thoroughly addressed to effectively prevent more of this from happening in the future. This is an emotionally charged issue and quite a loss for Zimbabwe, Africa and nature lovers at large.