UPDATE: As of this writing, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has opened and investigation into Cecil’s death by Walter Palmer – and The White House is reviewing the petition to extradite Palmer to Zimbabwe.
Cecil, one of Africa’s most famous lions, was lured from Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Beyond the boundaries of his refuge, the thirteen year old lion was injured with a non-fatal crossbow shot from Walter Palmer, an American dentist and trophy hunter. Guided by Zimbabwean hunters, Palmer tracked Cecil for approximately 40 hours before the suffering was ended.
Upon discovering Cecil was collared (he was being tracked and studied by Oxford University), Palmer and his guides attempted to destroy the device. They were unsuccessful. Cecil was skinned and beheaded, reducing this once great lion to a “trophy” for Palmer’s collection.
Despite a furious response from people around the world, the Zimbabwean hunters have been released on bail and Walter Palmer has gone into hiding (Palmer claims his hunt was legal – and he denies any wrongdoing, despite issuing an apology). If convicted of poaching, the hunters may face up to 10 years in prison; Cecil will never roam his domain again.
As for Palmer – he may never be prosecuted. Though, should he be, one can only hope he’s treated to harsher, fuller punishment, considering his record contains a felony conviction from 2008 for illegally hunting a black bear.
People like Palmer must be held accountable for their reprehensible acts of cowardice. Cecil’s life, suffering and death must be a call to action – a change in the way mankind coexists with the rest of nature. Palmer paid $55,000 to hunt Cecil – is that the price for an individual life?
This week, many celebrities (ex. Jimmy Kimmel has asked for donations to WildCRU, through Oxford – note: allocate the donation to “WildCRU”) have called upon you to join them in an effort to fund research and protection initiatives; to find justice for Cecil. I’m inviting you to join me – to cause an uproar for Cecil, and to bring Walter Palmer to justice.
In Cecil’s honor, I’ve made a donation to Cause an Uproar, National Geographic’s Big Cats initiative – and I’ve added my name to a petition for the extradition of Walter Palmer to Zimbabwe, to be held accountable for his crime. Please, join me.