I have been queried several times regarding my thoughts on Cecil, the lion that was supposedly cherished by local people and killed by a American bow-hunter in Africa. I suppose that my trips to Africa with my bow bestow some level of understanding or experience that makes my opinion and observations interesting. I understand the interest in this on-going event. I will be as honest and transparent as possible.
Hunting changed when Walt Disney created Bambi with human characteristics and emotions. It is a natural process for maternal and protective impulses to leap when young or weak animals are threatened or in danger. When species are threatened or endangered, people- hunters and non-hunters- respond with amazing alacrity. Ducks Unlimited joins with Audubon and Nature Conservancy and Friends of the Cheyenne Bottoms to protect and enhance wetlands and habitat world wide. I have no idea how much money has been spent on Whooping Cranes whose gene pool is so limited that they may not survive. The Lacy Act stopped the wholesale slaughter of egrets for ladies hats and has become the backbone of law enforcement’s ability to manage poaching and transportation of meat and by-products. Game Wardens ride a narrow rail between hunters and our natural resources- I admire with all my heart the game wardens that I know.
I have hunted all my life. I moved to this area to hunt and live a rural life close to nature. I have mostly eaten what I hunt and put in the freezer. Trophy hunting is part of this way of life. Big deer have created whole new industries and some things that even I don’t understand. I personally don’t think horns should ever be sold or bought. Deer breeding for huge racks is a big business now, but those racks seem “fictitious” to me. If a buck is legal and pleases me, that is all I require.
Cecil had a collar and a name. He was in a somewhat “protected” area that apparently was not well managed. He was not behind a high fence. I never hunted cats or “big game”. I hunted plains game which are primarily antelope species, and are considered to be like cattle in Kansas. Large tracts of land are protected from poachers and the animals are contained. We hunted water holes and pathways. Landowners in Africa go to auctions and buy breeding stock and manage their herds. Meat goes first to the landowner and his employees, and then to schools for the native children. There is no waste. Namibia is amazingly considerate of their native children. Pat and I hunted several different places, and cherish our memories.
If hunting were eliminated, most of the animals would disappear into the fog of humanity that we all know exists. Hunting feeds many hungry children in that continent. I was offered the opportunity to hunt lions and cheetahs and leopards at some of the concessions. I’m honestly not sure why I didn’t except they were very expensive and I know I can kill a impala with my bow but I’m not so sure I would efficiently kill a big cat. Cecil confirmed my suspicion-- he apparently was wounded and tracked for a couple of days and reportedly killed with a rifle. I can’t confirm those reports, but that was the news. That hunter is still in hiding and his business is in shambles. I think the extremes on both sides would be better served with some reason and restraint. The ultimate decision on which arrow to fling resides only in the guy holding the bow. I personally think this arrow would have been better used if it stayed in his quiver. He also should get better guides and outfitters. They had to know about a collared lion if they lived there.
We are so fortunate to live where the hunters and birders and photographers wear lots of different hats and cherish our neighbors and wildlife. As it should be.
And-- our lion at the zoo was a hero!!!!