From time to time I defend hunting on this site, as I did in my post this week about wild pigs. But that doesn’t mean I defend all hunting.
This week I learned we have reached the 7th anniversary of the death of Cecil, the famous male lion in Zimbabwe shot by a paying trophy hunter. I found this in a post on International Wildlife Bond, a website I follow that inexplicably shows only 80 followers on its WordPress feed. That’s not just because of WordPress, for there are there are many WordPress blogs that report thousands of followers. So I’m trying to help out here.
Why don’t I just repost it? Because I have a phobia about copyright, and that issue is still in dispute where blogs are concerned.
Keep in mind here that in 1900, little over a century ago, there were an estimated 250,000 lions in Africa, a number that was already in decline. Today, there are about 15,000 left, most of them in east and southern Africa. Outside Africa, although they once ranged across Europe and Asia, there are only about 500 wild lions, all in India, who I must do a post about soon.
Meanwhile, during the same period, the world population of homo sapiens has gone from 2 billion to 8 billion. As our population climbs towards a peak of 10 billion, or 12 or 20 depending on which expert you consult, the only concern you hear is whether we will be able to feed everyone. Are we really going to allow other species to decline until we’re left with only a few token animals to admire in the videos?
In southern Ontario, Canada where I live, even insect populations are crashing, and birds of course are following them.
Anyway, there’s a long very interesting quote here from a researcher in Hwange National Park who had been working with Cecil and his pride. His thoughts on this event, and his harrowing experience after Cecil’s death, when he helped press the investigation and so sometimes felt a need to keep a loaded gun beside him when he was sleeping at night, make very interesting reading. So check it out:
This man also points out that as an apex predator, the lion in nature serves to keep herds of large herbivores more bunched up and on the move, preventing destruction of plant communities, in the same way that the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park restored forests along streams and rivers. He thinks the decline of lions in Africa is a factor in the increase of desertification across the continent.
No, I don’t like trophy hunting, especially when it is commercialized. Where animals like Cecil are concerned, not only endangered, but valuable to science and loved by many people, I think it should be a crime, and one punished with more than fines.