What Walter Palmer did to Cecil wasn’t hunting and he should face justice

I am very angry and nearly heartbroken about the loss of Cecil the Lion. His name was unknown until about a day or so ago, but his story is so tragic that I could not help but describe this atrocity.

Cecil was a lion. His home was Zimbabwe on a wildlife preserve. He was a collared and tracked lion, and belonged to the preserve. He was a protected animal under Zimbabwean law, not one open for hunting. That did not stop Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minneapolis, from bribing park officials with $55,000 to lure him away from the reserve to cruelly kill him.

Cecil was a male lion, a beautiful specimen by all accounts. He was dearly loved by the local population and tourists alike. He had practically become an icon for many Zimbabweans. This is the reason he had been named “Cecil”, out of affection for him. Yet, this beautiful animal is dead.

Cecil was shot first with a crossbow, critically injured. He managed to struggle and survive for about forty hours. Injured, losing blood, yet clinging hard to life. It was all he had left. Lured away from security, alone, and tricked by a deceptive group of humans, Cecil did the best he could.

When he was at his weakest point, and farthest from safety, he was shot with a rifle. After he was killed from a distance, his killer gloated and had him decapitated and skinned. Cecil’s head was driven onto a stick for Palmer’s display and enjoyment. I realize how graphic and heart-wrenching this is, but the best way to deal with this tragedy is to discuss the horror in full. Walter Palmer has done a terrible deed, and he should be punished.

I realize this has brought up the debate about hunting in general, and there are some who will disagree with my opinion based on the antagonism towards trophy hunting. Some will argue that what men like Palmer do is a benefit to the people where they hunt.

What they mean is standard safari hunting policies in countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa which allow certain animals to be hunted (at a fee for the park) and where the meats from the hunted animals are used to feed the locals.

Granted this is a sad truth. These laws are in effect. Yet, Cecil was not an open target for hunting. He belonged strictly to the wildlife preserve. Laws in Zimbabwe against hunting reserve animals are strict, and penalties include prison time. Cecil falls under that jurisdiction. He was not open for hunting, and was sold out by corrupt park officials (who should be punished as severely as Palmer).

Palmer had to of known Cecil was a protected animal having payed so much for him (£35,000), still, he went ahead and killed him anyway. How sad of a man Palmer must be. Cecil wished no harm on anyone, at least not for pure sport. No man had a right to kill him just for the sake of killing him. It should be noted that killing a single lion in 2015 is mathematically equivalent to murdering 400,000 of Earth’s seven billion people.

I believe that Palmer should be immediately extradited to Zimbabwe to face a local court there. Let their court decide his fate for violating their law, and desecrating their sanctuary. If he is handed a prison sentence, then let Palmer rot for the rest of his life in a Zimbabwean prison. This is by far the fairest outcome I can contemplate.

The practice of sport or trophy hunting is the heart of the problem here. Palmer is just one bad actor out of many, and it is true that other lions and helpless animals are killed legally. The practice in general must be taken under scrutiny, or nothing will ever change.

What’s even sadder, that many of these trophy hunters forget, is that killing a male lion can have bad repercussions. Male lions are leaders of prides, and have many cubs. If the male dies and the cubs are not old enough to defend themselves, then new males who take over the pride will kill them. Cecil had over twenty known cubs. Killing Cecil may have just killed his offspring as well.

I hope that the fate of Cecil does not go unpunished. He deserved to live his life to a ripe age and die peacefully upon the earth and in the care of those who loved him so. Cecil did not deserve what this coward did to him. The practice of sport or trophy hunting should be placed under heavy scrutiny, and if Cecil is to be given justice, then perhaps a discussion to ban the practices all-together should be in order.

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