The Cecil Hypocrisy: Tourists (mainly American) kill 600+ lions every year for trophies

Cecil in life – image BBC

Walter J. Palmer, a Minnesota dentist, allegedly baited Cecile the lion out of a national park by dragging a dead animal behind a car at night. Palmer shot it with a crossbow. The wounded lion escaped and wasn’t found by Palmer and his fellow hunters until 40 hours later, when they killed it with a rifle.

There is uproar on the internet. Palmer is the subject of much abuse and even threats. I find this kind of slaughter (and it can hardly be called hunting) quite pathetic but this uproar about Cecil is just a little hypocritical. As the WaPo reports, tourists legally kill over 600 lions every year. The US Wildlife Service – with no doubt some lobbying from the trophy hunters – has lions only as a “threatened” rather than an “endangered” species, so that makes it all OK. There are some 30,000 lions alive, so 600+ is only a little over 2% and quite sustainable. (Translating that into human numbers, it would be perfectly justified for alien hunter-tourists – in the name of conservation and maintaining a healthy human population – to take trophies from the killing of about 140 million humans every year).

This would all be perfectly legal had the lion not been a resident of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, a protected area. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that trophy-hunting tourists legally kill some 600 lions each year. Jane Smart, the global director of IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group, said in an interview that the 600 figure is several years old and the actual number is probably a little bit higher than that. Given that there are only about 30,000 lions left in Africa, this represents an annual loss of roughly 2 percent of the total lion population to legal hunting, and a considerably larger share of the population of healthy adult male lions, which hunters typically prize.

American tourists — wealthy ones, given the high costs involved — account for the majority of lions killed for sport in Africa. ……… Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to list African lions as “endangered,” which would have banned the importation of recreational lion trophies to the United States. Instead they listed lions as “threatened,” which allows the domestic trade in lion trophies to continue.

Needless to say the hunter-tourists argue that they are helping conservation.

In reality, lion hunting doesn’t appear to require much in the way of skill. As the photos above show, many hunter-tourists are guided by teams of locals and professionals. Adult lions are not particularly afraid of humans, making it relatively easy to get close to one. They spend the majority of their day sleeping.

Hunting groups like Safari Club International maintain that hunting lions helps conserve them. They promote the positive effects of hunting in African communities. They argue that “hunting plays a role in raising the value of the African lion and discourages poaching.”

I don’t much care for false (and often mindless) conservation, but I like hunter-tourists even less.

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One Response to “The Cecil Hypocrisy: Tourists (mainly American) kill 600+ lions every year for trophies”

  1. RoarforSerenity Says:

    Heartbreaking! Check out my blog, and raise awareness. Trophy hunting must stop!!

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