Remembering Cecil the LionBy now we have all read the stories in the news about Cecil and Walter Palmer. It's really hard to deal with the loss of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe. It troubles me deeply and want to do something to help. I just can't get the images out of my head of the animals that Walter Palmer/Trophy Hunter has poached/killed. Trophy hunting is the same as poaching in my opinion. Just because you pay a permit to hunt an endangered animal does not make it right.
Donating to the Nature Conservance, Big Cats Initiative, and World Wildlife Fund are all good ways to help conserve the Lion population in Africa, who's numbers have decreased dramatically in the last century.
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But is it enough? How can we stop this from happening again? How can we remember Cecil?
Cecil live in the area of Zimbabwe known as, Hwange National Park. Check out their website to learn more. Planning a trip to Zimbabwe for a Safari? Trip Advisor is always a great Travel tool.
Cecil was an older lion of 13 years and was popular with safari tours and National Geographic photographers. He was used to people around and was a part of a research project with Oxford University. Cecil's pride had about 20 lions in it. He was radio collared and was providing data on how far they roamed and hunted in the savanna. Here's a Google information of the area if you want to learn more about where Cecil lived. The Google Map of the area shows how it sits on areas that are not protected. Across the continent, lion numbers have plummeted by more than 80 percent over the past century, from 200,000 to less than 30,000.
But let's not forget that Cecil is one of Hundreds if not thousands that are killed in Africa every year. The loss of life in Africa is just devastating. And the African economy depends on tourism and safaris as people desperately want to see them in the wild. But unfortunately, a part of the economy is based on Trophy Hunting. Which I truly don't understand killing an Endangered Animal and how it helps with Conservation. It's a complex subject that really has touched a nerve with many people today. Zimbabwe is thought to have between 500 and 1,680 lions remaining, about 80 percent of which live in protected areas. The country has the highest proportion of lions that can be legally hunted, along with Tanzania, which is home to 40 percent of Africa’s lions.
A popular article in defense of Trophy Hunting from research. Can Trophy Hunting Actually Help Conservation? But I can actually think of a million other reasons why we should not trophy hunt endangered animals. Setting up Nature Preserves and Hiring Rangers and guards to protect these majestic animals seems like a better idea to me. Poachers are going to kill them whether trophy hunting is banned or not. But making something illegal also will increase poaching. More has to be done to protect these animals.
Even Bigger ProblemsFor all the attention Cecil has garnered, trophy hunting isn’t the biggest threat to Zimbabwe’s lions. Take a look at some of the corruption and poverty that also affect Zimbabwe today. The people are so poor that killing an endangered animal is probably the least of their worries.
Loss of habitat and prey species such as gazelles and wildebeest are more serious concerns. And farmers, villagers, and poachers have killed more of the big cats illegally over recent years than legal trophy hunters, with more clashes between people and lions along park borders.
Oxford's Zoology Wild CRU, or Wildlife Conservation Unit, is working to educate local people on how to decrease their livestock losses from lions and to better understand the benefits lions provide to the ecosystem and the country’s economy. The scientists have also funded and helped train anti-conflict and anti-poaching teams within Hwange National Park.
But maybe some good can come from the killing of Cecil. It was wrong, and he will be missed, but hopefully we can do more to protect the lions of Africa.
Here is an article from National Geographic about the Changing of Opinion on the subject with some data points.
Here are a list of more articles as well.
Oxford's WildCRU recently has received 500,000 british pounds in donations for research.
You can donate as well on their webpage. Oxford WildCRU campaign.
Get involved with NatGeo's Big Cat Initiative as well.