It has emerged that the Oxford University laboratory that was studying Cecil the lion with a radio collar is partly funded by companies which advocate sustainable trophy hunting. As a result of Cecil’s killing by Walter Palmer and his team the laboratory has now received more than £550,000 in funding; a silver lining amongst all the gloom. However, it is the funding by advocates of trophy hunting which causes concern despite the fact that the founder of the Oxford University laboratory, Professor MacDonald, said:
“We simply do our work. There is no risk of any donor affecting our results. We report our results regardless of whether they state any particular point of view or not. We are not an advocacy organisation.”
He may be right but he would say that wouldn’t he? The two organisations which fund the laboratory are: Dallas Safari Club and Panthera. A spokeswoman for the Dallas Safari Club said it backed sustainable trophy hunting but did not comment further.
Funding of this short creates a potential conflict-of-interest despite what Prof MacDonald says. Both these organisations were criticised by LionAid. They say that there is no such thing as “sustainable trophy hunting” of endangered species. I would agree with that. The trustee of LionAid warned of the dangers of pro-hunting organisations and said:
“This is equivalent to a tobacco company accepting research from their stable of scientists to say that smoking is not damaging to health.”
He also says that the public has been influenced by the statements of pro-hunting organisations who have muddied the water as far as I’m concerned. They try and bamboozle the public into making them believe that trophy hunting in a sustainable way is good for lion conservation. It simply justifies the killing of lions for entertainment.
It must be extremely difficult for researchers the maintain a strictly unbiased approach when their incomes are part provided by advocates of trophy hunting. It is common sense, isn’t it?
There is another little twist to the story. A toy company called Beanie Babies are creating a toy of Cecil the lion to educate young people about the Oxford University unit’s work.
A Zimbabwe conservation group wants Cecil’s head to be mounted in a case in the park where he lived. That sounds macabre to me. The chairman of Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, Mr Rodrigues, said that the head had been found at the home of Theo Bronkhorst, the professional hunter and Zimbabwean landowner who killed Cecil with a gun and who is to be tried through the Zimbabwean criminal courts in September of this year.
The plan is to put Cecil’s head near the park entrance so that people can pay tribute to him. We’re just waiting for things to die down Rodrigues said. Macabre, as I said, as far as I am concerned.
Source: Times Newspaper.