Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Ballad of Cecil the Lion




The death of Cecil has caught everyone's attention.  It is hard to reconcile the need to track down an old lion with the thrill of the big game hunt, especially since the Great White Hunter, Walter Palmer, was only along for the ride.  His arrow failed to kill the beast and it took 40 hours for his guide, Theo Bronkhorst, to finish Cecil off, leaving a headless carcass to be eaten by vultures.  Little wonder there was such a worldwide outcry.  This kind of brutality strikes to the core of our soul and it is hard to think of Palmer and Bronkhorst as little more than sociopaths.  The unrepentant Bronkhorst felt it was a legitimate kill.

Cecil is enjoying an afterlife in the blogosphere that few animals could ever hope to enjoy.  Meanwhile, his hunter is in hiding having received death threats.  Small consolation, especially for being so cruelly eviscerated.

This is the way Marco Rubio feels about abortions, using Cecil to vent his rage on Planned Parenthood, which has once again become a favorite target of social conservatives on the campaign trail.  A lot of fuss is being made over Planned Parenthood illegally selling fetal tissue and body parts to science.  Naturally, Congressional Republicans launched an investigation into the matter.

There are far more pressing issues that deserve media attention, but these are the types of stories that tend to dominate.  A lot folks are trying to feed off the Cecil the Lion story, including Black Lives Matter, which is desperate to tell its stories, including the latest unnecessary death of Sarah Bland at police hands, which among other things has been blamed on excessive amounts of marijuana in her blood stream.  Meanwhile, Dr. Ben Carson is trying to project himself as a 'Centrist" by countering that "all lives matter," and that we shouldn't adopt these pet issues.

But, Cecil continues to get top billing, and it is easy to see why.  The death of this great lion is a brutal reminder of the lengths some persons will go to bag a big trophy to take home with them.  The Trump kids also enjoy such thrills.  Of course their father defended them, using the opportunity to promote individual liberties and the NRA, but he wouldn't go so far as to defend Walter Palmer.  The Donald left that up to Ted Nugent, who surprisingly hasn't been embraced by Trump on the campaign trail yet.

The Nuge gave quite a spiel on facebook on the renewable nature of big game hunting.  After all, he had once bagged a lion himself and knows first hand what a thrill it had to have been for the much maligned Walter.  As far as the Nuge sees it, lions aren't to be coddled by game parks and liberal conservation groups.  They are wild beasts and don't deserve any pity.

Cecil's death leaves it up to his brother to protect the pride and his cubs from other male lions who will want to move in on Cecil's brood now that he is gone.   Yes, he was an old lion, but not past breeding age as Theo Bronkhorst had claimed.   The outpouring of support for the WildCru Conservation Group, which had been studying Cecil and his pride of lions, has reached a staggering 320,000 pounds, or about $500,000.

Of course, we might not have ever known about Cecil had he not met such a grisly death.  Nor, would we have been treated to so many interesting analogies and hunting treatises.  Cecil has found a place in our hearts, which is more than I can say for those who condone these big game hunts.

According to Jeff Flocken, these safari clubs contribute little to conservation efforts, and he has been pressing for a ban on bringing body parts of endangered animals into the US, including heads.  He believes the US Fish and Wildlife Service should do more since so many of these "big game hunters" are American.  It's become a huge business, feeding the likes of Theo Bronkhorst, not embattled parks like Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe or conservation groups like WildCru.

Sadly, the allure of the big game hunt is still strong and there are persons who will pay big bucks to have the opportunity to kill a black-maned lion like Cecil.  Whatever wish fulfillment these persons get can only be guessed it, as they often do little more than pose with their kill and take the head home to hang over the mantel.  There are more humane ways to cull animals, when necessary, than to sponsor these ridiculous big game hunts.

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