Give Respect to All Beings: The Death of Cecil the Lion

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Some of us would rather dedicate our lives to being the voice of the voiceless; in this case a lion. I spend some of my days signing petitions, donating to organisations like The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Air Shepherd who are undertaking actions in geographical areas where I may never travel to.

I also spend time writing blogs, creating posters, and posting stories focused on animal rights issues to help raise awareness across social media. I’m sure my friends get tired of my posts some days. However, I find that it’s also important to use your “soapbox” wisely and spend less time criticising others for the attention they give to something they deem important to them. It take all kinds of people to make the world a better place.

Cecil and one of his lionesses
Cecil and one of his lionesses

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard the selfish and senseless killing of Zimbabwe’s (if not the world’s) most popular lion, Cecil at the hands of a dentist from Minnesota, U.S. of A. A dentist!! A man of science. An “educated” man. He paid the “grand” sum of $50,000 to kill an innocent animal who was one of the biggest attractions in wildlife reserves and worth millions to the local tourism industry. Ahh yes! A wildlife reserve was where Cecil and his pride spent their days hunting, raising their cubs, and fending off the challenge of other male lions who crossed his territory for a total of 13 years.

On July 1st, Cecil was slaughtered after being baited by Dentist Walter J. Palmer who claimed he had no idea the lion was collared and protected under law. A spotlight was turned on him and then Palmer fired a bow and arrow that initially injured the lion. After tracking Cecil for a total of 40 hours (almost two freakin’ days!), he was found and finally shot and killed with a rifle. Man is not and has never been “superior” to other animals, as that superiority is quickly diminished if we were weaponless and face-to-face with a lion. We were meant to be stewards of this planet.

Walter J Palmer is notorious for killing large and endangered animals and has been fined for poaching in the past
Walter J Palmer is notorious for killing large and endangered animals and has been fined for poaching in the past

Primatologist and quite possibly the world’s most famous Conservationist, Jane Goodall released a statement today on Cecil’s murder that read, “I was shocked and outraged to hear the story of Cecil, Zimbabwe’s much loved lion. Not only is it incomprehensible to me that anyone would want to kill an endangered animal (fewer than 20,000 wild lions in Africa today)…”. The entire world has come out in full support of Cecil and some, like Talk Show Host Jimmy Kimmel put into words what so many of us have been thinking. You can watch that video below.

“We were meant to be stewards of this planet.”

Cecil was being studied by the Oxford University who monitored his movements and activities with a GPS collar. Had he not been wearing that collar, no one would’ve found out who took his life and all in the name of what trophy hunters like to tag as “sport”. I watch sports all the time on TV, it never ends in a beheading and anyone getting skinned. To date, the authorities in Zimbabwe have only brought charges to two men involved in this incident, the safari operator and a local farmer. With the release of an arrow with the intent to kill, we were all denied the opportunity of being able to see this magnificent big cat in all his glory.

Cecil the lion in happier days
Cecil the lion in happier days

What some people fail to recognise is the grim reality that face endangered lions in Africa when it comes down to being driven to extinction be trophy and canned hunts, poaching, habitat fragmentation, and conflict with locals over livestock. As the estimates stand, there are 20,000 to 32,000 lions left throughout the continent. Cecil’s story will end with his cubs being killed or driven from the pride by the lion next in the hierarchy, Jericho. It’s the circle of life in the wild as Jericho will try to have the lionesses carry on his own bloodline. On the flip-side, with Cecil’s death and Jericho as the lone adult male lion in the pride, he could also be killed by another group of adult male lions who sense weakness. In that instance, both Cecil’s and Jericho’s cubs could be killed, further exacerbating the decline of these majestic big cats.

“Killing one dominant male lion is the equivalent of killing generations’ worth of lions. All three men deserve to go to prison for a very long time.”

To bring about real change in stopping trophy hunting will involve changing in laws, enforcement, mindsets, cultures and traditions, and creating real employment opportunities for poor families like those throughout African countries like Zimbabwe. Only when people have financial independence will they shift their thinking from surviving for the day to embracing long-term practices that promote sustainability. Governments will need to promote responsible tourism and prosecute those who continue to break their laws. It’s not too late to do all we can across social media and in our daily lives to help be leaders and revolutionaries. Every great movement started with ONE person who gave respect to ALL beings.

8 Replies to “Give Respect to All Beings: The Death of Cecil the Lion”

  1. It is terrible that this lion was killed.

    It is terrible that a human gets his jollies from killing such a magnificent creation.

    But I think there are other questions we also need to ask.

    Is hunting more immoral than factory farming? A hunted animal has lived in the wild, doing his or her own thing their entire lives and then are dispatched into the next world quickly (ideally) having usually just one very bad day (in fact with a skilled hunter, the death is enviable – better than a cancer ward or some nursing home). Cecil had two very bad days because the guy was useless with weapons.

    Factory farmed animals spend their entire lives in conditions that are so horrible we all avoid the images that PETA throws in our face. When we buy our plastic-wrapped Styrofoam trays, we try not to think about how horribly that animal died. We do a pretty good job of being masters of our own cognitive dissonance. I am sometimes disgusted by myself – knowing what I know, I can still plough into the flesh from factory-raised animals.

    All of these animals should get to live the life that we wish Cecil still had. Deep down inside we know that there are a lot of things broken and wrong with a system built solely on profits and has resulted in concentrated animal feeding operations.

    And there was a time, when eating meat was necessary to get enough calories, especially in the north. There is not a tradtional northern culture that is vegetarian (the most buddhist of buddhists – Tibetan Buddhists – break a basic fundamental tenant of buddhism by consuming meat).

    But times have changed, and there are plenty of overweight vegans in the north. The caloric defence is gone.

    So we are eating meat because of traditions from a different time. And we are doing it more cheaply and inhumanely than ever.

    The untimely demise of Cecil is a shame on us humans – and so is factory farming.

    And as far as the dentist goes. It is easy to blame the white dentist from the rich background. But certainly there are other people that should be going to jail – I can’t imagine that this dude stepped off a plane with his hunting rifle, rented a jeep, and headed off to the jungle. If he did, well lock him up and throw away the key.

    I suspect that he was there with some sort of organization – and somebody in that organization knew that they were breaking laws. And the executives from that organization should be looking at jail time. And if game wardens were being “taken care of” and “handled” by that organization – off to jail with them too.

    To me this seems like blaming Martha Stewart when the US Government encouraged the mortgage and financial collapse through not enforcing their own rules.

    I am proud that there is such revulsion to big game hunting. But we need to examine how the money we spend at supermarkets is contributing to poor stewardship of the planet. And we need to blame ourselves as consumers – because the market will always find a way to scratch an itch – so we need to create our own itches.

  2. There’s a lot of movement going on in the animal rights space. Follow the Facebook pages of animal rights group or follow petition sites like and you’ll see that there’s an entire community of people trying to do something about the poor conditions of animals in factory farms.

    Hundreds of sanctuaries are being created for the release of different animals including livestock – chickens, cows, goats, and horses. I see a lot of people talking and pointing fingers and making comparisons about what happened to Cecil versus factory farming, but I don’t see those people making any efforts to share stories or videos on the latter.

    Tackling factory farming built on consumerism and capitalism is going to be way harder and will take a longer time to stop than trophy hunting that require amendment or introduction of new legislation.

    I like doers. I’m not a fan of talkers. So more doing, less talking and let’s get things changed!

  3. I would really like to comend you on this well written content. The words you chose are exactly how I feel, each word. I’m so thankful for people as you and all the other people all over who express this kind of humanism, the way we all are supposed to be. The animals were created to be mans helper, before woman was created. Surely anyone with sense would understand as God’s creatures He loves them and we are supposed to respect and love them too in our show of honoring God. Live and let live. This is a natural feeling for me and I’m proud anytime I see someone else is too with all the evil, greedy people on this earth now and the things they do.

  4. Hi Tina,
    I appreciate you even taking the time to read my words and I’m happy to know you share similar sentiments and viewpoints.
    I couldn’t agree with you more when you mention animals were created to help man, but somewhere along the way some people forgot that. Greed will make anyone with 20/20 vision completely blind, where animals are seen as merely a “commodity”.
    I look to the day when that thinking will shift to where mutual respect is given to all beings.
    Thank you again for reading and commenting and I hope you’ll follow or revisit my blog again.


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