Cecil the Lion has a positive impact on conservation after death

You may remember Cecil the Lion. He was killed by an American dentist from Minnesota, Walter Palmer, with an arrow but the arrow failed to kill him and he was ultimately killed by someone else who helped organise the trophy hunting. It was well-publicised and there was outrage. Walter Palmer went into hiding.

Walter Palmer and Cecil the Lion
Walter Palmer and Cecil the Lion. Image: PoC based on photos in the public domain.
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At the time of his killing, Cecil was being tracked by Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. His life had been studied in intimate detail over many years. Dr Andrew Loveridge, director of the unit’s Trans-Kalahari Predator programme said that, “His death was emotional and saddening for our research team but the global response surrounding his loss took us by surprise.”

The global response indeed was remarkable in that it highlighted the immorality and inappropriateness of trophy hunting at a time when wildlife in general is deeply threatened by humankind’s destruction of the planet and the wildlife that relies upon nature’s habitat.

This response led to donations of more than £750,000 to the Oxford University wildlife unit. It has allowed the unit to fund GPS trackers, scholarships and conservation projects as reported by Will Humphries writing in The Times newspaper today.

Cecil the lion
Cecil the Lion in open land with good visibility. Photo in public domain (believed).

One beneficiary was Moreangels Mbizah who was able to complete her doctorate in 2018 with support from Cecil funding. Since leaving Oxford, Dr Mbizah has founded an organisation in Zimbabwe to support communities living next to wildlife areas and encouraged lions to return to their former habitats.

The legacy of Cecil is still there. He is remembered as perhaps the most iconic lion on the African continent and when we think of him we think of the inappropriateness of sport and trophy hunting today, and so it must stop. To say that it improves conservation is a cynical misrepresentation of the truth, namely that it achieves the opposite. It also promotes the concept that wild animals are there for humans to abuse and kill for their pleasure. This is not a civilised way for humankind to conduct itself.

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