What We’ve Learned About Ourselves Since Cecil was Murdered

Unless you’ve been hiding from social media for the past few weeks, you know that Cecil, the beloved African lion of Zimbabwe, was lured from the Hwange National Park and killed by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer to become a trophy on Palmer’s wall.

Cecil the beloved lion of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe was brutally murdered by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer.
Cecil the beloved lion of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe was brutally murdered by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer. Oh, wait, I’m not supposed to say murder because he’s only a lion.

So what’s happened since? The world has learned that the numbers of animal welfare advocates willing to speak out are large. So large, in fact, that we pissed off some and frightened others.

Rich big game hunters came out of the woodwork to defend their “hobby” by making all sorts of claims: they help save species through the fees they pay, they help the economies of the countries where they hunt, they kill big game because it takes them “back to their roots.” They brazenly posted photos of themselves with their kills on social media platforms in an in-your-face type of campaign. Yet Think Progress posted a thought-provoking article by Beenish Ahmed that breaks down the returns of hunting and killing an animal versus the returns of eco-tourism. Eco-tourism wins hands-down, and the money eco-tourism brings in is more evenly distributed among the people.

It’s not just big game hunters who are upset at the outcry over Cecil’s murder. The New York Times published an editorial from a Zimbabwean stating that Zimbabweans don’t care that Cecil was killed; in fact, they’re glad when a lion is hunted because that’s one less lion to kill a Zimbabwean.

A commentary in the New York Post called us a bunch of hypocrites. Another commentary at the Post sought to shame us for showing such compassion for a lion while showing little for suffering human beings.

Social conservatives were upset over what they saw as more media coverage about Cecil’s death than the latest Planned Parenthood controversy.

And the #BlackLivesMatter movement was upset that people were outraged over the killing of a lion, but not the killing of black people by law enforcement.

#BlackLivesMatter pointed out that Cecil's death led to this million-dollar projection on the side of the Empire State Building, while nothing was done about the deaths of blacks at the hands of law enforcement.
#BlackLivesMatter pointed out that Cecil’s death led to this million-dollar projection on the side of the Empire State Building, while nothing was done about the deaths of blacks at the hands of law enforcement. Photo at BBC.com.

Yet, despite all the backlash, animal welfare advocates continued to speak out in numbers large enough to convince American, United, and Delta to stop allowing big game trophies to be shipped via their airlines.  UPS, the worldwide shipping giant, boldly claims it will continue to ship big game trophies to the US. There are calls on Twitter to #BoycottUPS.  Amazon.com doesn’t allow customers to choose the method of shipment of packages, so there’s also a petition to stop shopping Amazon.com until either they give customers a choice to not use UPS or UPS stops shipping dead animal carcasses.

Other companies are feeling the heat as well. Photos of Jimmy Johns owner Jimmy John Liautaud posing with big animals he killed have been circulating social media, and many are boycotting the gourmet sandwich shops.

And let’s not forget Donald Trump’s sons are big game hunters too.

Meanwhile, Walter Palmer remains in hiding and has hired armed bodyguards to protect him, his family, and his properties after receiving death threats. Palmer’s Marco Island, Florida, vacation home was vandalized by someone who spray painted the words “Lion Killer” on the garage door. Zimbabwe is taking steps to extradite him back to Africa to face charges, but it’s unclear if that will actually happen.

Posted to Twitter by @ButtersKennedy
Someone tagged Palmer’s vacation home in south Florida. Photo posted to Twitter by @ButtersKennedy

What’s the takeaway from all of this? If we can garner that much backlash, we are a mighty force indeed. So keep that momentum going. Demand a change in consciousness in the people of the world by reminding them of the senseless killing of Cecil and other animals like him.

We are a force to be reckoned with. Let’s show the world just how mighty a force we truly are. 

17 thoughts on “What We’ve Learned About Ourselves Since Cecil was Murdered

    1. What we are is a species of animal who has managed to wipe out all known predators, and have caused irreparable damage our home planet. If our species becomes extinct, it will be of our own making.

    1. Depends on who you ask. I see the irony. Others see it as a bunch of lunatics who love animals more than people lashing out at someone who engaged in lawful activity.

  1. Social media is a force. (The talk of “bullying” is way over blown. No one bullies any more – socially unacceptable)
    I, too, am outraged that this protected lion was lured out, wounded in a “kill” that wasn’t a clean one, tracked, killed, and the crime attempted to be covered up. It is a crime. He was a protected animal caught in a shooting fish in a barrel for money type hunt. Despicable.
    The guy’s life is totally destroyed, but he should know actions have consequences. Arrogance pretty much universally disliked.
    Whether the guy will be shipped backed to face justice is unknown. Depends on the wording of the treaty, and how our whimsical government feels.
    Glad the airlines have stepped up. Wish our government/US Fish and WIldlife would ban imports of animal trophies like they do with parrots, endangered orchids, and tortoise shell. That might make a difference. It would block carriers from flying in trophy kills. (Contact your elected representatives in DC asking them to push Fish and WIldlife for this)
    There’s a real problem with “kills” for folk medicines demands in China, Vietnam, the US (often smuggled in), and many many other countries. That’s a conflict: accept diversity of thought or demand others change their culture to protect endangered species.
    Not only is changing cultural beliefs an issue, many of the countries that still have endangered species are so very very poor. They say big game hunting is how they get money to feed their children. So who will say they must pick animals over their children? Some other money maker must be found – preferably one that doesn’t involve burning and ripping up the forests there.
    No easy answer.
    As one of the preserve founders said last year, “Fine stop the hunting, but find a way to provide money/build an economy so hunting won’t be necessary. Meanwhile donate money to help us pay our park rangers who protect the animals and are themselves targets of poachers.”
    Eco tourism helps, donations help. Education helps. All hope enough animals can service until some answer can be found.
    Each must do what they can.

    1. Actually, eco-tourism helps a great deal. The article I cited gives the example of one poached elephant bringing in $21,000, while that same elephant, if allowed to live, would bring over a million dollars into the country in eco-tourism.

  2. What I don’t understand is the people who are upset that anyone cares about this lion killing when people are killed everyday. We care about people. It’s in the paper every day. There are demonstrations and marches. We have to protect animals because they can’t muster up a march on Washington. Or write an article for the paper on how they feel. We must do it for them. As the first commenter said, we are a complicated species.

    1. We are a selfish species with only ourselves as natural predators. Hunters want to be able to kill without consequences. Dog breeders want to breed, and join the AKC to promote their activity as pro-social. *gag* Rich people want laws written to their advantage, even if it causes more harm to the less affluent. Whites want to fly the Confederate flag because… well, who knows why? But they do, and who gives a crap if others are offended? But they’ll be the first yelling if young black kids sag their pants. Hey, if you can fly your flag, that kid should be allowed to sag. Fair is fair.

  3. The African government is one of the most corrupt out there. They don’t care if the animals are murdered. Heck, they treat their own people like garbage. They are calling on extradition because of the hue and cry made over Cecil–not because they give a damn–I’m sure someone in an official capacity was getting some of that hunting money. Will I stop shopping Amazon until I get a choice of shipper? Yes! Will I continue to sign petitions and donate where I believe it will do the most good? Yes! But I hold no hope that long term change will happen. We are a world filled with greedy, selfish and unscrupulous people whose only concern is for their own welfare. I have lost all hope for this planet. And that saddens me more than I can possibly convey.

    1. Well of COURSE it’s an act! They don’t want those tourism dollars to dry up! In the end, it’s all about the money. Always has been. Always will be. That’s why our voices matter. We are saying we won’t let you touch our money until you abide by our wishes, and now there are enough of us with money so that message resonates.

  4. Yes, the proper term IS murder! Trophy hunting is a stupid endeavor. I have no respect for people who engage in it, just for the thrill. Last year Facebook forcibly removed photos a Texas college student had posted of her various African hunts. The pictures of her posing above the dead carcasses with her perfectly-coifed hair and bright smile made me sick and almost wish someone would shoot her ass.

    Does anyone realize how much money it costs to go on an African safari? Just traveling to Africa is no small expense. A one-way ticket is usually no less than 1,000 USD. Then there’s the cost of lodging and actually getting to the hunting locales. The money these trophy hunters spend on their “once-in-a-lifetime” adventures, instead, could go to animal conservation outfits or to charity organizations that feed and clothe poor people in the region. But the egos of these goons won’t allow them to see so clearly.

    I’m glad Palmer is in hiding and I hope Zimbabwe manages to extradite him. It’ll set a legal precedent in the field of animal rights. Thanks for keeping up with this, Jen!

  5. While I abhor big game hunting, what he was doing was legal. And, the airlines are good to discontinue allowing them to be shipped on their planes. The fact that he lured this protected animal out of a sanctuary for a trophy is disgusting. For that alone he should be prosecuted.

  6. I think what we learnt was some people are offended that some people are outraged.i am outraged over injustice and cruelty to all creatures..and that includes humans..making something legal does not give it a better taste in my mouth.I read the article from a Zimbaween point of view and i am sorry but here it comes..take an animals land it will encorach..animals have no agenda..no bias and humans must seem an easy meal to a hungry animal..they do not see a child they see food..what about child molesters..they are supposedly human and prey solely on children..and yes i am outraged at this also, especially as they are supposedly a species with the most intelligence. This government is corrupt beyond measure.,they will be very happy about this a it will garner sympathy and bring in dollars..very little which will go to the poor.As a wildlife photographer i would spend my money to take pictures of these amazing creatures..but will not as long as the corruption allows so few to make so much from an a animals suffering.

    1. Humans have done that on every land mass on the planet. Even in Antarctica, we have build “research stations” as men try to figure out how to rape the area of resources. Now thanks to global warming, they’ll soon be able to do just that.

      1. Humans amaze me..we have the capacity for so much good..seems a waste to give thumbs to a species hell bent on destroying all it touches. A bright light for me has been the neighbour..bought 9 acres..ploughed a huge spot for a house..then decided to sell..we have not seen our echidnas since the land was cleared there..the roos have returned ..the neighbour on the other side of his block has bought the land..her fear the roos would leave and the wildlife be disturbed..this act of buying 9 acres to leave as is for the wildlife has restored my faith in a small way..like i said we can do the right thing..but too many don’t..and then it is too late no matter who does the right thing..make sense ?

  7. I hope this bring attention to a country that has horrible human rights concerns and needs world wide attention to help their people and policies. If that is what Cecil death motivates, I will feel a little better.

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