I just heard yesterday about one Walter James Palmer, a Bloomington, Minnesota dentist who paid over $50,000 to hunt lion in Africa. As it turns out, on July 1, 2015, he killed Cecil the Lion after luring the animal to an area outside of the protected national park where he lived. Cecil, a 13-year-old mature male lion with a distinctive black mane, was a well-known and beloved resident of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, and was fitted with a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University research project. He was accustomed to seeing humans who toured the park on photographic safaris.
This magnificent beast awoke this past July 1st unaware that he was being stalked by a man who had paid for the privilege of killing him. Indeed, the humans he normally encountered in the park posed no threat to him. But on this day, in the dark of night, Cecil was baited by meat attached to a hunting party vehicle. Thinking he had found a morsel of food, the lion ventured off of park grounds and got too close to Dr. Palmer who, illuminating the animal with bright lights, wounded him with a shot from a bow and arrow. The shot failed to kill the lion, and the hunters pursued their fleeing prey for 40 hours through the bush before shooting him with a gun. The lion’s head – and presumably the skin – were then taken as a trophy, and the rest of the carcass left where it lay. The head was later recovered by Zimbabwe authorities and will be used as an exhibit in court as the parties are tried.
Trophy hunters point to the “nobility” and “enjoyment” of their activity, but how can you plot the death of another living creature for no other reason than sport, kill it, and then sit smiling by the animal’s dead body . . . or lie smiling by a dead giraffe, as did Texas hunter Rebecca Francis? Sure, it’s legal. But it is perversion – nothing but confirmation that humans are the most vicious animals on Earth.
Dr. Palmer is certainly near the top of the vicious list. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, he is credited by Safari Club International with 43 kills, including buffalo, deer, moose, mountain lion and a polar bear. Cecil the Lion is not the first questionable kill by Dr. Palmer: in 2008, he pleaded guilty to giving false information to a federal agent when he had killed a black bear outside of the legal zone.
Hunting and fishing for food are OK. Football and baseball are sports. Big-game hunting is not OK – it’s more like the gladiator spectacles in ancient Rome. Humankind should be past that brutal phase of its evolution.