Taking selfies, quack medical cures and collecting ornaments are all more important than protecting animals. A mounted head or showing off your wealth is apparently more valuable than a species threatened with extinction.
Who, as yet, has failed to hear of Cecil, the magnificent black-maned lion brutally killed and decapitated by Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota or as he is now known, the most hated man on the Internet. The Internet exploded with outrage over this so called "hunt" and Palmer fled for the hills and has just resurfaced. For those of us whose circle of care encompasses creatures like Cecil, it was an appalling act of unnecessary violence and one that I was glad people were outraged over, even Zimbabwe called for Palmer's extradition to face charges.
Meanwhile, a lone hiker, walking without any protection in Yellowstone National Park was mauled, killed and apparently half eaten by a 20-year-old Grizzly bear mother known affectionately as Blaze. She had two cubs with her at the time. Blaze is now dead, her cubs heading for a life of imprisonment in a zoo. Blaze was another "celebrity" animal and much loved to all that had the good fortune to have studied, photographed and otherwise "known" her. A grandmother bear, she had given birth to many litters of cubs and according to a very moving tribute by photographer Sam Parks, had never been aggressive to humans previously.
Yellowstone Park Services showed the required amount of contriteness about killing Blaze. And, with that apologetic diplomacy reserved for when humans just have to do the "necessary evil" they are obviously expecting all things Blaze to blow over and for the tourist business to carry on as usual. The troubling fact is, that paying the ultimate penalty for "interfering" with humans is not an unusual outcome for many animals living in our national parks.
Take the iconic bison for instance; if they should happen to wander outside of park boundaries, and what animal understands boundaries, they are systematically shipped to slaughter. The actual number of bison sent to slaughter each year in Yellowstone Park is hard to track as the numbers differ depending on the source revealing a rather dark side of the national park service "industry."
Across the other side of the world, the Sumatran rhino was just declared extinct in the wild in Malaysia due to habitat loss and poaching. That means only one hundred of that particular species remain alive on this planet. Our animals are going extinct due to one thing and one thing only, MAN.
We are facing the sixth mass extinction, but people like Palmer are still allowed to pay top dollar to hunt endangered animals. Park Services like Yellowstone are still allowed to prioritize tourism over animal's lives.
What we need is a profound shift in our way of thinking and to eradicate speciesism. Our park services need to be lead by conservationists, not hunters and, if there is zero evidence to suggest that once a bear has killed a human it will start rampaging the countryside seeking human flesh, remove the human danger and not the animal one. If people are risking their lives for a selfie... well... so be it. The animal should not pay the price.
If we don't, it's not too far-fetched to say that the time of the human race will be over shortly along with the animals we have brutally slaughtered along the way to pay for fake medicine and symbols of wealth. Our exaggerated belief that humans are the epicenter of the universe is just about to get its own attitude adjustment.