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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Murder in Zimbabwe

I am so incredibly heartbroken and sad -- and angry --after reading what Walter Palmer, a Minnesota dentist, did to Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. Cecil was a beloved resident of Hwange National Park and a major tourist draw for Zimbabwe. He also was part of an on-going research study. At age 13, Cecil had outlived many of his contemporaries. Male lions usually only live to age 10 due to injuries sustained from fighting with rival males.

Luring Cecil out of the wildlife preserve where he was safe by tying some meat to the back of his truck, then shooting him with a bow and arrow and leaving him to suffer in agony for 40 hours before he finally killed him with a gun show just how depraved Palmer is. Then he skinned Cecil and cut his head off as a trophy. What a big man this dentist must be. He claims he hunts responsibly. To that I say, bullshit. It's highly likely that Cecil's six cubs will now be killed when another male takes over his pride.

According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, African lion populations have fallen almost 60% over the past three decades, and as few as 32,000 of them remain in the wild. So tell me again how killing them helps save the species.

I'm not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, but I believe that people like this dentist, who enjoy killing for fun so they can hang an animal's head on the wall, are seriously mentally ill. What kind of person does what this psychopath did? He now says (through his PR representative, because he's too cowardly to speak for himself) that he didn't know that he was killing a famous and important lion. So does that mean it's OK to shoot and torture a lion that isn't famous? And he said he didn't know that Cecil was wearing a radio collar as part of a research study. Really? Is he so blind he couldn't see the large radio collar around the animal's neck? And if he didn't know about the collar, why did he try to destroy it? As Sharon Osbourne tweeted, "I hope that loses his home, his practice and his money. He has already lost his soul..."  Dr. Jane Goodall, who has spent most of her life studying chimpanzees in Africa and has long been a voice for animals, stated that "I have no words to express my repugnance."

This so-called hunter has been found guilty of poaching before, in the case of a black bear, and he lied about that, too. So it's pretty obvious he has no morals, but he has total disregard for the law, too. 

Two Zimbabwean nationals are to appear in court July 29 over their role in Cecil's killing, and authorities want to talk to Palmer as well. If found guilty, the men could face up to 15 years in prison. No amount of money or time in prison will bring Cecil back to life or protect his cubs. But perhaps a harsh sentence will send a strong message that poaching will not be tolerated. And let's face it, Zimbabwe needs to do it right after the country's recent sale of 24 baby elephants to China despite international petitions and protests. As expected, reports from China already show the suffering and poor health of the young elephants. Only time will tell whether President Mugabe really cares about his country's wildlife, or whether, as many believe, he is interested only in lining his pockets. 

I love going to Africa to watch the magnificent wildlife. I, too, live to shoot these animals -- with my camera. The thrill is in seeing them in their natural habitat, doing what elephants or lions or zebras do. Hunting for fun and sport and trophies to hang on the wall needs to stop NOW. There is no excuse for this so-called 'sport.' I have seen photos recently that turned my stomach: a 400-pound man grinning stupidly as he posed with a male lion he had shot. Any bets about whether he actually tracked the animal? He was so huge I'm surprised he could get of the vehicle. Or the photo of the couple on their honeymoon proudly posing with the corpse of a zebra they had killed. Wow, what a way to celebrate a marriage. Or the American woman who grinned insipidly as she posed with the giraffe she had shot with her bow and arrow. 

We have become a nation of psychopaths, and that frightens me. We have indeed lost our souls.