Cecil has been in the limelight for the past few weeks. It is very easy to be angry and condemn the trophy hunter. But lets be fair here. It is a horrendous act for sure, in particular when we put up the majestic picture of Cecil the lion - images of The Lion King only helped to fan the flames of fury. But I think the general populace have over-reacted and jumped on the bandwagon of herd mentality and herd-like fury. The anger while understandable has certainly gone way way way overboard.
Let's look at some factors which we need to consider:
- we should not hunt esp when the specie is endangered
- we should never encourage hunting as a sport, esp when we do not make use of what we obliterate (i.e. if we hunt for something, we should make use of it by way of food, etc..., btw when we kill to accessorise, thats pretty bad and unnecessary too)
- cuteness and how majestic an animal may look should have NO effect on how we feel and how we react to the reprehensible act ... why we have no "save the hyenas" or "save the wild dogs" events??? Its always cutest stuff like dolphins, pandas, etc ...
Many Americans and even Europeans were very vocal over the Cecil incident, and rightly so... but please check your own backyard ... fox hunting and deer hunting???!!!, pleeeasseeee ...
- the Disneyland effect ... you know how it is, when you actualise and give personality, voice and character to animals via cartoons, they can have a "perception/sensory effect" on how we ascribe human values to these creatures. I am in no way diminishing the essence of living things but we can say that the way we look at deers will never be far from the image of Bambi; the same for pandas, lions, etc... We just have to be mindful and be sensible enough to separate fact from fiction.
- there are varying levels of morality here, of which some are based on religious background. You can take the high road and say all living things are sacred and should not kill any living thing - be a vegan. Or you think we are born to be meat eaters/carnivores and there are "domesticated animals" such as pigs, chickens, cows, etc... that can be eaten. Then there are religious beliefs which may prohibit the killing and/or consumption of cows, or pigs, etc.. Then there are "modern cultural beliefs" that animals we keep as pets should never be eaten such as dogs and cats.
Hence we can have so many backgrounds which would colour our opinions. I think for sure:
a) we should NOT hunt for sport, or just for the fun of it (and not make use of it, not for decor or trophies or accessories)
b) we should never hunt if the specie is endangered
c) we should not kill for blatantly STUPID reasons, e.g. some animals' penises, some silly rhino's horn, elephant's tusk, etc...
That should form the basis of our platform on killing animals. One can add to the criteria above based on their cultural background, religious persuasion, and inherent values.
Hence based on the top 3 criteria, killing Cecil was a big NO-NO and rightly should be condemned. But do not over react NOW if there are killings that are just as reprehensible at your backyard for centuries and you DID NOTHING ABOUT IT. Do not just get caught up with the Cecil thing just because its faddish.
(great insightful article by a Zimbabwean)
By Goodwill Nzou
When I was 9 years old, a solitary lion prowled villages near my home. After it killed a few chickens, some goats and finally a cow, we were warned to walk to school in groups and stop playing outside. My sisters no longer went alone to the river to collect water or wash dishes; my mother waited for my father and older brothers, armed with machetes, axes and spears, to escort her into the bush to collect firewood.
A week later, my mother gathered me with nine of my siblings to explain that her uncle had been attacked but escaped with nothing more than an injured leg. The lion sucked the life out of the village: No one socialized by fires at night; no one dared stroll over to a neighbor’s homestead.
When the lion was finally killed, no one cared whether its murderer was a local person or a white trophy hunter, whether it was poached or killed legally. We danced and sang about the vanquishing of the fearsome beast and our escape from serious harm.
Recently, a 14-year-old boy in a village not far from mine wasn’t so lucky. Sleeping in his family’s fields, as villagers do to protect crops from the hippos, buffalo and elephants that trample them, he was mauled by a lion and died.
The killing of Cecil hasn’t garnered much more sympathy from urban Zimbabweans, although they live with no such danger. Few have ever seen a lion, since game drives are a luxury residents of a country with an average monthly income below $150 cannot afford.
Don’t misunderstand me: For Zimbabweans, wild animals have near-mystical significance. We belong to clans, and each clan claims an animal totem as its mythological ancestor. Mine is Nzou, elephant, and by tradition, I can’t eat elephant meat; it would be akin to eating a relative’s flesh. But our respect for these animals has never kept us from hunting them or allowing them to be hunted. (I’m familiar with dangerous animals; I lost my right leg to a snakebite when I was 11.)
The American tendency to romanticize animals that have been given actual names and to jump onto a hashtag train has turned an ordinary situation — there were 800 lions legally killed over a decade by well-heeled foreigners who shelled out serious money to prove their prowess — into what seems to my Zimbabwean eyes an absurdist circus.
PETA is calling for the hunter to be hanged. Zimbabwean politicians are accusing the United States of staging Cecil’s killing as a “ploy” to make our country look bad. And Americans who can’t find Zimbabwe on a map are applauding the nation’s demand for the extradition of the dentist, unaware that a baby elephant was reportedly slaughtered for our president’s most recent birthday banquet.
We Zimbabweans are left shaking our heads, wondering why Americans care more about African animals than about African people.
Don’t tell us what to do with our animals when you allowed your own mountain lions to be hunted to near extinction in the eastern United States. Don’t bemoan the clear-cutting of our forests when you turned yours into concrete jungles.
And please, don’t offer me condolences about Cecil unless you’re also willing to offer me condolences for villagers killed or left hungry by his brethren, by political violence, or by hunger.