The killing of Cecil the lion has outraged animal lovers all over the world and many people are making sure their voices are heard. The role of Walter Palmer in the inhumane killing of the revered Zimbabwean lion has made him an online and social media target of epic proportions with the backlash forcing him to close down his dental practice, remove his practice’s website from the Internet and generally go into hiding.
Walter Palmer, an avid hunter from Minnesota reportedly paid upwards of $55,000 to travel to Zimbabwe with the hopes of tracking and killing a lion. He succeeded - at a heavy price. The animal he killed was named Cecil, a beloved lion who resided in Hwange National Park and was a national draw for the country’s tourism. In response to the outrage that followed news of the kill, Palmer stated that “[he] had no idea that the lion [he] took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. [He] relied on the expertise of [his] local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”
Those so called professional guides are expected to appear in court Wednesday for their role in the killing. The Zimbabweans, Theo Bronchorst, a professional hunter, and Honest Trymore Ndlovu, a landowner, were charged with illegally killing the lion because they had “no permit or quota to justify the offtake of the lion and therefore are liable for the illegal hunt,” the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said in a statement Monday. The organization further stated that “[a]ll persons implicated in this case are due to appear in court facing poaching charges.”
Not only was the gorgeous lion killed, she suffered a painful and long death. The investigation by officials concluded that the hunters lured Cecil out of the national park, followed by Palmer shooting her with his bow and arrow. However, the arrow was not strong enough to kill Cecil, and she survived another 40 hours until she was tracked down and shot with a gun.
Conservationists are not only outraged by Cecil’s death, they are also very concerned about the safety of her cubs. The Zimbabwe Conservation Force stated that, “[t]he saddest part of all is that, now that Cecil is dead, the next lion in the hierarchy, Jericho, will most likely kill all Cecil’s cubs so that he can insert his own bloodline into the females. This is standard procedure for lions.” Jeff Flocken, the North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, stated that compounding the problem is that, “the females of the pride could die trying to defend those young.”
The killing of Cecil and resulting media surrounding her death have prompted conservationists around the world to demand a ban on trophy hunting of animals like lions in Africa. The African lion populations have decreased about 60% over the past 30 years. Oxford University researchers also note that a complete moratorium on trophy hunting in areas surrounding Hwange National Park between 2005 and 2008 resulted in a 50% increase in the lion population in that area.
Walter Palmer, who also has a felony record over the 2006 hunting of a black bear in Wisconsin, said in a statement to NBC News: “I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have.” It is likely that those authorities will be knocking on Palmer’s door in the very near future.