The true identity of the trophy hunter who killed the iconic Zimbabwe lion Cecil has been revealed to be a Minnesotan, not a Spaniard as has been reported in the past. Whatever your stance is about hunting and conservation, we do not condone sport and trophy hunting. We do not support the inhumane suffering and slaughter of any animal and there is no rationale to justify this. Cecil was so well known, contributing much for ecotourism in Zimbabwe. Now he’s gone, just to be another head mounted on a trophy wall. It’s heartbreaking and it must end. May he not have died in vain.
We along with other reputable organizations like Born Free do not support trophy hunting.
Yesterday we heard the sad news that a trophy hunter has killed one of African’s most famous lions – Cecil – just outside Hwange National Park. Information suggests that Cecil was lured out of a protected area by the hunter and his guides before being shot and wounded with an arrow and followed for forty hours.
According to new information coming in today, the hunter has been identified as an American dentist, believed to be from Minnesota. We also understand that two people involved in this case are now appearing in court in relation to the shooting.
Born Free has been campaigning to list the African lion as “endangered” under the US Endangered Species Act, which would almost completely stop imports of lion trophies such as Cecil. For now, however, not listed on the ESA, and only on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, lion trophies can come into America.
The Wildcat Sanctuary and Born Free USA is urging concerned citizens to write to the US Fish and Wildlife Service immediately urging them to issue a final rule, listing the lion as endangered and stopping trophy imports.
This may also mean other hunters willing to pay tens of thousands for a lion or other large game hunt may be more reluctant in the future if they are unable to take the ‘trophies’ home.
Finally there are reports that Cecil may have been killed illegally. Though not yet confirmed, if this is the case, a US citizen taking wildlife illegally outside the United States could be prosecuted under the Lacey Act.
Speaking yesterday Will Travers OBE, President of Born Free Foundation, expressed his sadness: “The number of lions in Africa may now be as few as 25,000 – down by 50% in the last thirty years. It is entirely possible that they will disappear completely from a significant number of their current range States within the next five years and even where significant numbers still persist, the pressure on lions from habitat loss, persecution and, indeed, trophy hunting, may be too much to withstand. Cecil’s tragic and meaningless destruction may just be the catalyst we need to take action to end lion trophy hunting and, instead, devote all our energies to conserving a species which, perhaps more than any other, represents the wild soul of Africa.”
Trophy hunting, involving the selective killing of wild animals for ‘sport’ is controversial. Some argue that hunting brings conservation funding into a country through hunting permits. However, in 2013 Born Free USA, along with Humane Society International (HSI), The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), commissioned Economists at Large to investigate the facts. The study showed that the trophy hunting industry makes a minimal contribution to national incomes and reinforces Born Free’s call for wildlife viewing photographic safaris of animals like Cecil and other non-consumptive use to be the focus for tourist activities, activities that make a greater contribution to conservation and the African economy without killing lions.