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Tag: cecil the lion

Ethical Hunters Shocked By Cecil Story

BOZEMAN, Montana — That picture of Cecil the lion’s corpse and the American dentist posing triumphantly over it was ghastly. Cecil had apparently been lured out of a safe haven in Zimbabwe and illegally shot.

It happens that the Cecil story appalled many of the hunting and fishing writers gathered here by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. The partnership represents sportsmen dedicated to maintaining wildlife habitats.

Its members often see themselves squeezed between other environmental groups hostile to hunting and the “slob hunters” they believe sully the sport. And they feel underappreciated as protectors of the wild environment. Hikers and campers pay far less for conservation than they do.

“Cecil was an absolute disaster on multiple fronts,” Don Thomas, a well-known outdoor writer and co-editor of Traditional Bowhunter magazine, told me. From what is known, Thomas places most guilt on the dentist’s hunting guides. It is their responsibility to know the laws and see that hunters abide by them.

“The hunter’s errors seem to be more a matter of sleaze factor than of illegality,” Thomas added, though he is not cleared of the latter.

But Thomas also has a problem with the Disney-fication of Cecil — “taking a wild lion, giving it a name and turning it into a faux pet as a tourist attraction.” The biggest threat to African lions, he explained, is not hunters but the loss of wild habitat through human overpopulation, development, and climate change.

What is ethical hunting?

It’s not killing an animal who has no legitimate means of escape. It’s not taking an animal who has been around people a lot and has lost its instinctual fear of humans. Collared and long studied by biologists, Cecil would seem to fit into that second category.

Ethical hunters have long condemned “trophy mania,” that is, measuring the experience merely by the size of the antlers harvested.

The general public, meanwhile, does not grasp how much conservation is paid for by hunters and anglers. Hunting and fishing license and permit fees largely go toward habitat restoration.

The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 taxes the sale of hunting gear. The proceeds, more than $12 billion so far, go to state wildlife agencies for conservation. A similar tax on fishing equipment followed the 1937 law. Buy a fishing rod and you pay the excise tax. Buy a sleeping bag and you don’t.

In 1900, fewer than 500,000 white-tailed deer remained in North America. Extensive deforestation, poaching, and over-harvesting had decimated the population of deer, as well as of turkeys and ducks. Now there are 30 million white-tailed deer.

Better habitat care and hunting practices deserve the credit, Brian Murphy, a wildlife biologist who heads the Quality Deer Management Association, told me.

The complaints nowadays are of too many deer — and with reason. “Too many deer imperil the health of the forest, removing forage that other species rely on,” he said.

Many hunters and anglers feel right at home in the locavore movement, which promotes food grown locally. They say their relationship with the hunted dinner is far more intimate than with a plastic-wrapped chopped meat shipped from wherever.

When his family says grace over a meal, it thanks the animal itself, Murphy said. “I’ve never felt that way over a Big Mac.”

Furthermore, the game animal on the dinner table had probably enjoyed a far fuller life in the wilds than the penned cow turned into hamburger. These hunters have a point.

The Cecil story should have little to do with them.

Photo: Kevin Chang via Flickr

Zimbabwe Calls For Extradition Of Cecil The Lion’s Killer

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) — The American dentist who killed Cecil the lion was a “foreign poacher” who paid for an illegal hunt and he should be extradited to Zimbabwe to face justice, environment minister Oppah Muchinguri said on Friday.

In Harare’s first official comments since Cecil’s killing grabbed world headlines this week, Muchinguri said the Prosecutor General had already started the process to have 55-year-old Walter Palmer extradited from the United States.

Muchinguri, a senior member of President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party, described Cecil — a black-maned lion well-known to foreign tourists in the Hwange National Park — as an “iconic attraction.”

“The illegal killing was deliberate,” she told a news conference. “We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he can be held accountable for his illegal actions.”

Palmer has admitted killing the 13-year-old predator, who was fitted with a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University study, but said in a statement he had hired professional guides and believed all the necessary hunting permits were in order.

He has not been sighted since his identity was revealed this week by Zimbabwean conservationists.

Muchinguri also said Palmer’s use of a bow and arrow to kill the lion, who is said to have been lured out of the national park with bait before being shot, was in contravention of Zimbabwean hunting regulations.

Palmer, a life-long big game hunter, returned to the United States before the authorities were aware of the controversy.

“It was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher because he had already absconded to his country of origin,” Muchinguri said.

Social media in the United States and Europe have exploded in outrage and vitriol against Palmer, and the White House said on Thursday it would review a public petition of more than 100,000 signatures to have him extradited.

Under a 1998 treaty between the two countries — which have not enjoyed cordial relations in the latter stages of Mugabe’s 36 years in charge — a person can be extradited if they are accused of an offense that carries more than a year in prison.

In Zimbabwe, the illegal killing of a lion is punishable by a mandatory fine of $20,000 and up to 10 years in prison.


Lawyer Alec Muchadehama said no American had been extradited to Zimbabwe since the treaty was signed, adding that Harare would face legal and political hurdles with Palmer.

First, it has to apply to U.S. courts and satisfy them Palmer committed an offense and that he would be jailed for more than a year if convicted. Courts in Zimbabwe consider a fine first for lion poachers before imposing a jail term, he said.

“They (U.S. courts) may actually doubt the competence of the judiciary here to try him in an objective manner particularly given these prejudicial pronouncements that the politicians are already making,” said Muchadehama.

As with many African countries, Zimbabwe issues annual hunting permits for big game such as elephant, buffalo and lion, arguing that the revenues generated can be used for wider wildlife conservation.

Last year, the southern African nation which is still recovering from billion-percent hyperinflation a decade ago, earned $45 million from hunting, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority head Edison Chadziya told reporters.

Zimbabwe had an estimated 2,000 lions on private and government-owned reserves and issued hunting quotas of 50-70 lions every year, he added.

However, permitted trophy hunting is far from universal in Africa, and the government in neighboring Botswana — where it is illegal — said the Cecil case showed the risks.

“It is our stern belief that safari hunting of threatened species such as lions has the potential to undermine our regional anti-poaching efforts as it encourages illegal trade which in turn promotes poaching,” it said in a statement.

The shooting is also being investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to see if it was part of a conspiracy to violate U.S. laws against illegal wildlife trading, a source close to the case told Reuters on Thursday.

Despite the global media coverage of Cecil’s killing, the big cat’s untimely demise has gone largely unnoticed in Zimbabwe, where average annual income is just over $1,000 and unemployment is higher than 80 percent.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Ed Cropley and Giles Elgood)

Photo: Piper Hoppe, 10, from Minnetonka, Minnesota, holds a sign at the doorway of River Bluff Dental clinic in protest against the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe, in Bloomington, Minnesota July 29, 2015. (REUTERS/Eric Miller)

Late Night Roundup: Jon Stewart’s ‘Secret’ Meetings

Jon Stewart had some fun mocking the news coverage of his “secret” meetings with President Obama — though in fact, the two meetings were both on the White House visitor logs: “Something is not a ‘secret’ just because you don’t know about it.”

The Daily Show correspondent Jordan Klepper also interviewed an Arkansas pastor, who insisted that the local LGBT rights ordinance is actively discriminating against him. (Spoiler: It isn’t.)

Larry Wilmore highlighted the American hunter who killed Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe, by American dentist and hunter Walter Palmer.

And The Nightly Show contributors Mike Yard and Holly Walker both shared their ideas for responding to the problem of big game hunters. Yard offered some interesting ideas on how to solve the fact that hunters have too much time and money — while Walker herself has become a “big game hunter-hunter.” As she explained: “It’s not personal — it’s for sport.”

Jimmy Kimmel highlighted the story that Donald Trump gold a breastfeeding lawyer she was “disgusting.”

Honoring Cecil

Whew. Boy, are we an angry country.

Seldom do I avoid the company of my fellow animal lovers. But this week, I want to put a continent of distance between me and those calling for the demise of the Minnesota dentist who killed a 13-year-old lion in Zimbabwe now known round the world as Cecil — beloved to citizens and the tourists who flocked to see him.

The dentist paid $50,000 to hire two hunters, who strapped an animal carcass onto their vehicle to lure Cecil out of his home in Hwange National Park, where it was illegal to hunt him. Then the dentist shot him with a bow and arrow. The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force told CNN that Cecil suffered a slow death, surviving with his wound for 40 hours before the trio tracked him down and killed him with a gun.

Cecil was later skinned. He was also decapitated. Many of us would call this beheading an act of barbarism. Men such as that dentist call it a trophy.

“I’m honestly curious to know why a human being would feel compelled to do that,” late-show host Jimmy Kimmel said in an emotional monologue Tuesday night. “How is that fun? Is it that difficult for you to get an erection that you need to kill things that are stronger than you?”

You’ve no doubt noticed that I haven’t named this dentist. I want nothing to do with that witch hunt. Google “Cecil and dentist” and you’ll find his name easily enough, along with all the online threats and calls for his death that have sent the dentist into hiding.

Some of these threats may be coming from your Facebook friends, the same ones who like to post little hearts under pictures of puppies. After the first angry post I saw calling for revenge and listing the dentist’s name and phone number, I gasped. By the tenth one, I shut down Facebook and went for a walk.

Most people are good — I believe that — but there have been moments since the news broke of Cecil’s death this week when I have felt that our numbers are in steep decline.

Time magazine reported this gem of a statement from PETA president Ingrid Newkirk: “If, as has been reported, this dentist and his guides lured Cecil out of the park with food so as to shoot him on private property, because shooting him in the park would have been illegal, he needs to be extradited, charged, and, preferably, hanged.”


A high road with gallows — this is news to me.

The dentist is hardly the only American who fancies himself a modern-day Crazy Horse — who, by the way, would never have killed an animal for sport. In Smithsonian magazine’s June issue, Susan Orlean profiles “Lion Whisperer” Kevin Richardson, who has an extraordinary relationship with a pride of lions in South Africa.

She writes about the popularity of Cub World, where tourists can cuddle with lion cubs up to 6 months old, and then describes what happens to some of the cubs after they become adults:

The rest of the extra lions end up as trophies in commercial hunts, in which they are held in a fenced area so they have no chance to escape; sometimes they are sedated so that they are easier targets. These “canned” hunts charge up to $40,000 to “hunt” a male lion, and around $8,000 for a female. The practice is big business in South Africa, where it brings in nearly a hundred million dollars a year. Up to 1,000 lions are killed in canned hunts in South Africa annually. The hunters come from all over the world, but most are from the United States.

I’m not going to be one of those people whose eyes bug out as they yell: “Where was your outrage then?” This time, we can name both the hunter and the hunted, with enough gruesome details about Cecil’s death to give us chest pains. This time, it feels so real.

I’m also not going to demand to know why we aren’t worried about everything bad happening to people everywhere. We care about many things, every day.

I do appreciate this tweet from writer Roxane Gay, who is black: “I’m personally going to start wearing a lion costume when I leave my house so if I get shot, people will care.”

Speaking of tweets — the ridiculous kind, of which there are so many — Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio chirped this: “Look at all this outrage over a dead lion, but where is all the outrage over the planned parenthood dead babies.”

Well, yes, we could play that game and join Rubio in making a mockery of the truth, but let’s leave such foolishness to this guy who thinks tweeting a non sequitur proves he should be leader of the Free World.

Yes, we are outraged over the killing of the lion named Cecil, whose only crime was to attract a wealthy human in search of his manhood.

How do we honor this majestic creature?

Here’s an address for you: It’s for the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit.

They want to save lions like Cecil.

How about you?

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and an essayist for Parade magazine. She is the author of two books, including …and His Lovely Wife, which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz ( and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

Screengrab: Paula French via YouTube

Gun Advocate Ted Nugent: The Whole Cecil The Lion Story Is A ‘Lie’

The Internet responded with overwhelming outrage after news broke that a wealthy Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, DDS, traveled halfway around the world to kill Cecil, Zimbabwe’s famous and beloved lion. But Ted Nugent does not share the Internet’s concern, or its capacity to be so easily duped, calling the entire media storm a trumped-up lie.

“[T]he whole story is a lie,” Nugent wrote on Facebook. “It was a wild lion from a ‘park’ where hunting is legal & ESSENTIAL beyond the park borders. [A]ll animals reproduce every year & would run out of room/food to live w/o hunting. I will write a full piece on this joke asap. God are people stupid[.]”


One of his Facebook fans suggested that, while he had “mad respect” for hunters like Nugent, Palmer’s “kind of hunting is pure bulls**t. Pure trophy, no sustenance of any kind and no respect for that animal.”

Nugent responded that killing lions is the “right thing to do unless of course you are clueless & inexperienced.”

The ’70s rocker has a habit of departing from reality any time his beloved guns come into the picture in a negative way. He has glibly described any tragedies that arise from guns to be part of the government’s “Big Lie” (caps his), part of a duplicitous campaign to regulate and control guns. He once, without a shred of irony, asserted that “Guns don’t kill children,” and he believes that people should be allowed to carry guns literally everywhere.

As for the legality of Cecil’s death, reports indicate that Palmer’s actions were highly questionable at best, given that the good doctor paid his guides $50,000 to lure Cecil out of a protected preserve and attempt to remove the GPS collar researchers had fitted him with. Cecil was injured with a crossbow, tracked for 40 hours, and finally shot dead with one of those harmless little toys Nugent’s always going on about (i.e. guns).

Via Media Matters

Photo: Mike Licht via Flickr

‘I Love And Practice Responsibly’ The Killing Of Lions, Says Minnesota Dentist

Dr. Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who has sparked global fury after he hunted and killed the famous Cecil the Lion on a trip to Zimbabwe, is trying out a public relations tack: one half-apology for killing Cecil and one full-condemnation of the media and environmentalists for making a big stink of it.

In a statement given Wednesday to the local Fox station in the Twin Cities, Palmer says, in part:

I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion. That was never my intention. The media interest in this matter – along with a substantial number of comments and calls from people who are angered by this situation and by the practice of hunting in general – has disrupted our business and our ability to see our patients. For that disruption, I apologize profoundly for this inconvenience and promise you that we will do our best to resume normal operations as soon as possible. We are working to have patients with immediate needs referred to other dentists and will keep you informed of any additional developments. On behalf of all of us at River Bluff Dental, thank you for your support.

Palmer allegedly paid $50,000 to a pair of guides in Zimbabwe to help him lure Cecil out of the wildlife preserve before then killing the beloved animal. (And as a fun side note, it has also been reported that Palmer was a maxed-out donor to Mitt Romney in 2012.)

The people of Zimbabwe are understandably not very happy that a white man flew to their country for the purpose of killing an animal that had become the national mascot. But even in America, his actions have sparked a hearty round of public outrage, including protest signs and stuffed animal dolls being placed at his office.

But maybe Palmer really has an opportunity here to cultivate a political fanbase — among conservatives still nostalgic for colonialism and the Great White Hunter.

Photo via Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford.

Zimbabwean Duo In Court Over Killing Of Cecil The Lion

By Philimon Bulawayo and Mike Saburi

HWANGE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) – Two Zimbabweans who were paid $50,000 by an American hunter who killed ‘Cecil’, the southern African country’s best-known lion, arrived in court on Wednesday to face poaching charges, in a case that has triggered widespread revulsion at trophy hunting.

Walter James Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, has also been accused by wildlife officials of killing the animal without a permit on July 1. Palmer, who has left Zimbabwe, says he killed the lion but believed it was a legal hunt.

Local hunter Theo Bronkhorst and private game park owner Honest Ndlovu, who assisted Palmer, were escorted into the courthouse in Hwange, 800 km (500 miles) west of Harare, by plain-clothes detectives.

They did not speak to reporters.

Since it emerged this week that he killed Cecil with a bow and arrow, Palmer has been pilloried on the Internet, with many people wishing him dead.

“This is disgusting. I hope you get thrown in a cage with hungry lions,” Julie Lu wrote on the Facebook page of his dental practice.

Palmer said on Tuesday he had hired professional guides who secured hunting permits and deeply regretted taking the lion. He added that he had not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or the United States and would assist in any inquiries.

The Zimbabwe police and government have not commented.

If found guilty, the two Zimbabweans could be fined $20,000 and possibly jailed for up to 10 years.


Cecil was fitted with a GPS collar for a research project by scientists from Oxford University and was one of the oldest and most famous in Zimbabwe.

The university’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit said it had been tracking Cecil since 2008 and was “deeply saddened” by his death.

“Insofar as this happened illegally we consider it deeply reprehensible,” it said in a statement. It was working closely with Zimbabwe’s National Parks authorities to support their “meticulous work” in prosecuting the case.

The unit also said Cecil’s death would be likely to trigger a power struggle in the pride, resulting in the death of other male lions as well as Cecil’s offspring.

“When a male lion is killed, because of the way their society works, a likely consequence is the overthrow and death of other adult male members of his weakened coalition, and the subsequent infanticide of his cubs,” it said.

Palmer’s hunting has attracted scrutiny in the past. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to lying to a U.S. wildlife agent about a black bear he killed in Wisconsin two years before.

He was accused of killing it 40 miles outside a permitted zone, hauling the carcass back into the approved area and certifying falsely that it was killed there. He was

sentenced to one year probation and fined $2,938.

In the Hwange case, Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force chairman Johnny Rodrigues said Cecil was lured out of the park with bait before being shot.

The incident has triggered fierce debate over the commercial ‘trophy’ hunting of African big game.

Like many countries, Zimbabwe issues annual permits that allow foreign hunters to kill wildlife such as elephant, buffalo and lion legally, arguing that the funds raised allow the government to fund conservation efforts.

“Sustainable trophy hunting is part of well-managed wildlife conservation. It creates incentives for people to look after wildlife,” said Adri Kitshoff, chief executive of the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa.

“It’s easy to fall into the trap of emotions and not focus on facts.”

However, Edward Bourke, chairman of the Australia-based Saving The Lion Foundation, said Cecil’s death showed the dangers of legal hunting.

“There is enough global pressure to push for change. There is an opportunity to offer alternatives, including international aid for establishing safe haven environments like national parks or eco-tourism zones,” he said.

One of the few countries to avoid Cecil hysteria was Zimbabwe, where most people are more preoccupied with putting food on the table and finding work in an economy suffering 80 percent unemployment.

To the state-run Herald newspaper, the most remarkable aspect of the case was the lion’s name, which it linked to British imperialist Cecil Rhodes, after whom the former Rhodesia named.

“How someone thought it such a good idea to christen a lion after the infamous plunderer and murderer who roamed dangerously across Africa can only be a matter of conjecture,” it said in an editorial.

(Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Additional reporting by Joe Brock; Editing by Ed Cropley and Giles Elgood)

Photo: Stuffed animals left by protesters block the doorway of River Bluff Dental clinic after the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe, in Bloomington, Minnesota July 28, 2015. REUTERS/David Bailey

Late Night Roundup: Obama (And Jon Stewart) Don’t Care!

Larry Wilmore looked at all the fun Obama is having on his big trip to Africa, as a president who can now say whatever he wants: Birther jokes, dancing with the locals — and declaring that he would win another election if he were allowed to run.

And then Larry brought a special guest on The Nightly Show to provide an expert commentary on what it’s like to be just about to leave a job: Jon Stewart from The Daily Show. But for his part, Jon said Obama isn’t quite in “don’t care” mode — he’s in “I’m gonna build me a library with my name on it” mode.

On his own show, Jon did a Q&A — as an interrogation-style segment called “Jon Stewart’s Askhole.”

James Corden sat down with Trevor Noah, who talked about the process of how he landed the major gig to become the next host of The Daily Show.

Jimmy Kimmel highlighted the story of the American tourist who shot and killed the beloved Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. “The big question is, why are you shooting a lion in the first place. I mean, I’m honestly curious to know why a human being would be compelled to do that. How is that fun? Is it that difficult for you to get an erection, that you need to kill things that are stronger than you?”

Then, a very choked-up Jimmy asked viewers to contribute to the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University, which had been tracking and studying Cecil.