Who was Cecil the Lion?
The killing of the well known Zimbabwean lion, Cecil on 1 July 2015, launched an avalanche of strong reactions worldwide in social media. The 13 year old lion (a Panthera leo bleyenberghi), named after Cecil John Rhodes, amongst others in the park were part of a study conducted by the Oxfort University. They were studied and GPS-tracked by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit in the Hwange National Park since 2008 when he was first spotted. Cecil with his beautiful black-fringed mane apparently enjoyed the attention from tourists and the media, allowing vehicles as close as 10 meters from him.
Cecil was the main attraction at the park. One news item suggested that this incident attracted the amount of attention, “because he was given a name and was a celebrity”. Alex the lion from the animation film Madagaskar springs to mind, but this is indeed no fictional matter. The death or murder of any celebrity for instance, usually sparks a much bigger reaction and a lion is no exception. Here in South Africa, there is a renewed outcry in social media now for attention towards farmers and farm workers, who also became an “endangered species”.
Cry our Beloved Planet
Way too many animal species became endangered at the hands of humans. The totally extinct Dodo bird from Mauritius was an easy target for uninvited humans and predators that arrived to the island from the early 1500’s. The African rhinoceros might also become extinct in the near future at the current rate they are being killed, not to mention the number of sharks killed for their fins. Films such as Gorillas in the mist, Charlize Theron’s 1989 film Mighty Joe Young and the BZN song, Over the hills wherein “Jumbo” was slaughtered for it’s ivory, all sadly depicts the cruel brutality of man. It would seem as if the human race is riding on a wave of total destruction, without the blink of an eye! It isn’t only man against man and man against animal, but we are busy murdering Mother Nature, the very source of our existence. Many celebrities and politicians amongst others are dearly devoted to save our planet. We all have to start doing our part, but isn’t it too little too late now?
Justice for Cecil?
It will take some time before the dust will finally settle on this one. The American dentist Walter Palmer who allegedly hunted and killed Cecil, professional hunters guide Theo Bronkhorst and owner of the farm where the lion was hunted down, Honest Trymore Ndlovu, might all face serious charges if their excuses are found to be less than legal and just. Even if they can proof their innocence and the legitimacy of the hunt in question, they will face a difficult, if not impossible task to save their professional careers. The life span of an African male lion in the wild is between 12 and 16 years and in captivity they have a life expectancy of up to 20 years. If nature should run it’s course, old Cecil might not have been around for that much longer anyway, but at least Mother Nature had a say in it.