August 1, 2015

A Lion King has Died—What We can Do to Honor Cecil’s Memory.

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There is outrage right now due to the death of the much-loved 13 year-old male lion, Cecil, who was known as Africa’s biggest lion.

Cecil was a lion who loved being a father, he was often seen out walking with his family and he was king of his jungle and an ambassador for his species.

Cecil was easily identifiable by his large black mane and he had a friendly nature, as he would stroll alongside the cars in the national park that he reigned over. 

Cecil’s killer has been identified as Walter Hunt, a dentist from the United States, who reportedly paid $55,000 to hunt the lion and was being led by two local guides. As they did not have a permit for the hunt, the was killing illegal.

Palmer insists that he did not know they did not have a permit, or that the lion was a local favourite. Hundreds of legal hunts for a “trophy” lion take place in Africa every year.

Cecil was allegedly lured out of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe before being shot with an arrow and then pursued for 40 hours before being shot, skinned and beheaded.

Cecil’s death has caused much sadness, heartache and upset not only because he was a celebrity, tagged with a collar and studied by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University, he was a mate to seven lionesses and also led a large pride of 12 cubs. The future of these cubs is now uncertain, as it is common for the successor to the leader of the pride to kill the remaining cubs from other bloodlines.

Cecil’s legend began approximately three-and-a-half years ago when he was 10 years old and was beaten by younger stronger males and exiled from his pride. However, Cecil teamed up with another lion Jericho, who is believed to either be his brother or friend. Together they regained control of the two prides in the region and each had their own pride.

It is thought that Jericho will now take lead controlling the prides, however his reign could be short lived, as he will struggle to protect the prides without Cecil’s leadership and strength.

It is likely that new males will soon invade the territory looking to take over. It is also a concern that Jericho may kill Cecil’s cubs so that he has a higher chance of protecting his own offspring. He also may wish to mate with the lionesses that Cecil left behind, and this may also cause him to kill Cecil’s cubs.

The lionesses will naturally try to protect their cubs and the social unrest this would cause would make the prides a target for other communities who will see them as weakened and vulnerable to an attack.  

Oxford’s WildCRU have announced that currently Jericho is protecting the cubs.

Although lions are strong and proud by nature, they desperately need conserving, as they are now an endangered species that requires our help and urgent protection.

Due to hunting by humans and a loss of their habitat, the number of lions in the wild is rapidly decreasing and this is alarming, as it is possible that lions could become extinct, if things do not change.

The numbers of lions have reduced over the last 50 years from 200,000 to below 15,000. The main causes of this decline are disease, trophy hunting, controversial lion breeding techniques, and increased use of lion pride territory as farmland.

Outrage is necessary initially as it allows us to express our emotions and opinions and shines the spotlight on an area that needs to be addressed. However, outrage alone will not create change. We need to turn it to action to ensure that another lion does not suffer similarly to Cecil and also so that hunting lions becomes a thing of the past.

Please take a look at these valuable and credible sources:

WildCRU, Wildlife Conservational Research Unit, is part of Oxford University and is a world leader in its field. The project studies ecology, behaviour, genetics and physiology to develop workable conservation solutions.

Funding supports its core staff and their emergency project fund.

Following Cecil’s death WIldCRU director David Macdonald released a statement saying:

“Cecil was a glorious male lion, with a fascinating family history as he maintained a large pride. Just a few months ago we were thrilled to watch him at close quarters in the field, and so his seemingly illegal death is heartbreaking. However, our goal is to learn from it. Good can come from this if the world’s attention can lead to support for our work to improve lion conservations.”

Lion Aid works to educate the public about the decline of lions and what is causing the reduction. It is also working to convince the UK Government and the EU Commission to ban the importation of lion trophies and all lion products. They highlight the horrors of canned lion hunting and its associated cub petting trade and focus on raising more awareness for the cub smuggling trade which feeds the canned hunting industry.  A full list of all the work Lion Aid does can be found on the website.

Along with monetary donations Lion Aid also accept donations of artwork or goods that can be put into auction or office equipment so they can carry out activities more efficiently.

The Big Cats Initiative project puts patrols on the ground to prevent lion snaring, tests the carcasses of lions for signs that they have been poisoned, has anti-poaching patrols and also provides medical treatment for snared lions amongst other work.

100 percent of donations received goes towards supporting the programme. 

African Parks is a non-profit organisation that works in partnership with local governments and local communities and they are responsible for the rehabilitation and management of national parks.

The park accepts donations to be able to continue managing the eight parks, which are located in seven African countries.

Sign a petition to request that Zimbabwe stops issuing permits to hunters.

If it is not possible to donate, then sharing the information is a valuable option. The more we raise awareness and are educated about the suffering and plights of lions and other species, the better chance of change happening so that things can turn around.

People are stronger in numbers, our voices are louder together and social media is a powerful tool for causing people to stand back and take notice. When something is highlighted on a global scale, it is very difficult for those in power to ignore the cries for change.

Sadly, it has taken the loss of this beautiful and majestic creature to bring to our attention the suffering and plight that lions currently face. 

Together we can help to build a legacy to not only help to protect Cecil’s offspring and prides, but also to ensure that the tragic and devastating death of this beautiful creature does not happen to others so that this king has not died in vain.

We all have a voice, even if we don’t have the finances available to support the work that is being carried out. So let’s harmonise our voices as one to raise awareness and ultimately to create much needed change. Social media is a powerful tool—let’s use it for those who need it.





The Death of a Leo (#CecilTheLion) in July.


Author: Alex Myles

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Video Still

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