Illegal kill of Cecil the lion sparks worldwide call for trophy hunting ban

2015-08-03 11:57
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Cape Town - The face of Cecil the lion was projected on the Empire State building over the weekend - just one of the protest action movements sparked by the infamous trophy hunt by US Dentist Walter Palmer in Zimbabwe.

An image of Cecil, along with 160 images of endangered species was projected onto the side of the 106m-high building.

The "Projecting Change on the Empire State Building" initiative was designed to raise awareness about the plight of endangered animals and was billed as a first of its kind.

An image of the lion Cecil, whose killing has sparked international outrage, was prime among animals whose pictures covered 33 floors of the southern face of one of the world's most famous landmarks in an eight-minute video loop.

'An illegal and deliberate hunt'

But the luring of Cecil from the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe in what has been declared an illegal and deliberate hunt by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, has sparked a wave of protests and calls for the practice of trophy hunting to be banned. 

The magnificent black-maned lion, the much-photographed poster-boy of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, was shot with a crossbow before being gunned down as it lay injured. The cat was then skinned and decapitated - with its carcass then left for vultures. 

According to the Conservation Action trust, The South African NSPCA has expressed disgust at the ongoing cruelty involved in this so-called sport.

"Conserving animals does not mean killing them," said the society’s manager of its Wildlife Protection Unit, Ainsley Hay. 

'How on earth can it be claimed that this is conservation?'

"How much of the money paid to kill Cecil went anywhere other than into the pockets of the professional hunter and the landowner? Even if this hunt was legal, how on earth can it be claimed that this is conservation? We’re relieved that at last the public are seeing the truth behind it."

In a landmark move, PHASA president, Hermann Meyeridricks, asked for a review of its policy on the matter ahead of its next annual general meeting.

Meyeridricks said PHASA has made “little demonstrable progress” in getting government and predator breeders to “clean up” the country’s lucrative but controversial captive-bred lion hunting industry. He is calling for it to improve its standards and conditions to a "generally acceptable level”, acknowledging that opposition to the hunting of bred lions is no longer confined to “just a small if vociferous group of animal-rights activists”.  

Kenyan activist Paula Kahumba, writing in The Guardian on Thursday, said there was no ecological justification for trophy hunting. 

"Arguments can be made (but also disputed) in favour of hunting as means of controlling populations of common animals such as deer. But trophy hunters are not interested in common animals; for them, the rarer the better. The ultimate, orgasmic experience for a trophy hunter would be to kill the last individual of a species."

While Damian Aspinall, director of the Aspinall Foundation, has called for an international agreement to outlaw big-game hunting.

'Hunters and poachers have virtually wiped out lions across Africa'

"Apologists claim that hunting has something to do with conservation, that is patently untrue," said Aspinall in a Daily Mail report

"Hunters and poachers have virtually wiped out lions across Africa in the past 30 years. Hunting and destroying habitats has nothing at all to do with conservation and everything to do with arrogance, savagery and greed."

Born Free USA last week urged concerned citizens to write to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, urging them to stop all lion trophy imports, as has happened in Australia. 

More than 1,1 million people have signed a global online Avaaz petition, calling for the US and Europe to ban the import of hunting trophies. 

“We can't bring the majestic lion Cecil back, but we can get US and EU leaders to pass common-sense rules to protect the rest of the world's lions," Avaaz said in an email sent to its members.

“As concerned citizens deeply disturbed by the tragic killing of Cecil the lion, we urge you to act swiftly to stop the decline in lion populations across Africa. We call on you to ensure they are classified as an endangered species and ban the import of any hunting trophies that threaten the survival of these majestic animals.”

Calls for US dentist to be tried in Zimbabwe

Oppah Muchinguir, the Zimbabwean Environment, Water and Climate Minister said, “We want Palmer tried in Zimbabwe because he violated our laws."

“One can conclude with confidence that Dr Palmer had a well-orchestrated agenda which would tarnish the image of Zimbabwe,” the Parks Authority said, “This must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”

Zimbabwean law enforcement officers have been investigating the matter since the 7th of July 2015.

It was found that Honest Trymore Ndlovu, owner of Antoinette farm on the Gwayi River Conservancy adjacent to Hwange National Park where Cecil was shot, had been issued with a hunting quota for 2015, but it excluded lions. Zimbabwean authorities received a tip-off from an informer that the professional hunter, Theo Bronkhorst "illegally connived with Ndlovu to kill the lion", which is in violation of Section 59 of the Parks and Wildlife Act.

Parks Authority believes that the use of a bow and an arrow "was meant to conceal the illegal hunt by using a means that would not alert the rangers on patrol".  

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