Cecil the Lion

Killing Animals.

Yes, the senseless killing of Cecil was heartbreaking, but it is not the first, nor will it be the last, lion to be killed in Africa.

I hate the killing of any animals, as I believe even the tiniest ant under my feet has the right to live -- it has a mom, a dad, siblings, a purpose in life -- I respect all that.

I believe all sentient beings have the same right that I do to be on this planet. Nature is perfect and if the most minuscule of beast is living here, there's a reason. I don't eat meat nor use leather, to avoid participating in the killing of animals.

I have a daughter who lives in Africa and she concurs with the student in the New York Times article that lions are men-eaters and feared by Africans. In the country where she resides, lions are sometimes killed in defense happenstances, never for fun -- that belongs to the white man.

Replacing the British men of the former colonial Africa, many Americans have made it their pleasure to come to a far-away land and kill giant wild animals.

Hunters.

Former United States president Bush Sr. is, or was, a Big-Five-game hunter for years. That expression refers to the killers of the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros. The term indicates the most difficult animals to hunt on foot.

Tribal residents see the hunt as a business in many countries, a survival tool in desperate places. Bush senior, along with pal General Norman Schwarzkopf, requested in 2001 that the government of Botswana allow them again to resume their hunt of Africa's endangered big cats.

As a member of the Safari Club International (SCI), Mr. Bush has been a regular hunter of lions in that country. Rich Americans, Europeans and Japanese pay small fortunes to kill a lion in Botswana -- 50 lions are allowed to be killed each year.

The government of the country has banned the shootings at times because American shooters prefer to kill large males with impressive manes that look better on the walls, de facto depleting the population of mature males.

The lion population is already decimated by the encroachment of more and more humans in Africa -- do we really need to kill a few more just for fun?

Cecil Was Special.

The lion killed in Zimbabwe by the American dentist recently -- creating an uproar from many and a real online retribution against the hunter -- was a rare black mane lion, one of the last one of the kind, and he was wearing a tracking device around his neck, as wild animal specialists were following his tracks and his moves.

To protect him. To save him from poachers. To make sure he was not killed. And yet, he was. Shame on the hunter, shame on the African trackers, shame on the culture of allowing animals to be killed to ornate some wall somewhere with their heads mounted on wood.

Will this be a lesson for poachers and other predators of innocent animals? Elephants, lions, hippos, leopard, sharks -- all wild animals kill for food, or to protect their family. There is never an ounce of malice in their killings. It's only survival.

Animals Are Never Mean.

Humans have a hard time understanding this. Even when a pit bull kills a baby, the intention was most likely a reflex, a scare, a startling move creating a reaction sometimes fatal, but never mean.

When a huge bear kills a jogger, it is most likely to protect a little one nearby, or to fence off a territory which needs to be cleared of predators.

Lions also have predators -- the most dangerous of them all is man. Cecil never attacked the dentist who ultimately ended his life. It was not basic survival for the hunter to kill or be killed. Cecil was shot by an arrow and suffered for 40 hours before finally dying. This is cruelty.

I hope Mr. dentist never gets to put Cecil up on his wall. The global reaction showed that man still has decent respect for the animal kingdom. Several airlines have banned the transport of killings trophies. Several countries are fighting ivory trade to save the elephants. All good things.

Now somebody needs to tell hunters of the world to stop killing for fun, anything. Would they kill a giraffe? A koala? A panda bear?

Didn't think so.

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