Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What I Think About Cecil The Lion

Lately the news has been full of the death of Cecil the lion, who lived on a protected reserve in Zimbabwe, was illegally led off the reserve, shot by a rich American dentist, tracked injured for 40 hours and finally killed.

National public outrage has been immense.

I've been to South Africa, twice, and also Botswana. I go on photo safaris. I've seen Africa's Big Five, live. I love South Africa. I can't wait to return. And ever since I've first visited the open Velda I've been unable to stomach going to zoos.

It's not that I think zoos are wrong. I recognize the role they play in global conservation. I understand why my young nephews love to visit the zoo; I did once, too. Most people aren't lucky enough to go on safari.

I hate that Cecil was baited and illegally killed. I find all trophy hunting repugnant. There are all sorts of places in Africa where you can, for a very high price, shoot big game in fenced fields. I don't understand this at all. I don't mind hunting for food--it would be hard to be against that while I remain willing to eat meat.

But. The American outrage over one lion is chafing my nether regions. One lion, folks. One lion.

How many African children die from preventable causes in one day? From malaria, HIV, malnutrition?

How many children are worth one lion?
How many lions would you trade for the life of your child?

The outrage is in the wrong place.