Holiday in Zimbabwe has been on my bucket list for quite some time now, so you can imagine my delight when we touched down at the Harare International Airport a few days ago. Every pulse in my body was racing, I was delirious with anticipation.
As an animal lover, I watched Steve Irwin handle wild animals in Africa. He was my hero, my inspiration, and he brought Africa and its numerous animals to my living room. His death by Stingray attack still pains me.
It was on our second day when I saw the news in the local market. Cecil, the Lion, had been killed by big-game hunters in the Hwange National Park, in Matabeleland North, Zimbabwe, on July 1.
The country’s most loved lion had been brutally, fatally wounded by bow and arrow first. Cecil, with his black-fringed mane and a GPS tracking collar, was then tracked for 40 hours before he was put out of his misery.
Every evidence points towards Walter Palmer.
Palmer paid $50,000 for the privilege and license to kill an African lion. He tempted Cecil out of a national park with food bait tied to the back of a truck, then shot him with a crossbow. Cecil survived the initial attack, but Palmer and his two guides tracked the fatally wounded lion for 40 hours, finally finishing him off with a gunshot.
Little did Palmer know that the animal he murdered was a local treasure, and wore a radio collar so that Oxford researchers could study his movements. He was then skinned and beheaded!
I had tears in my eyes at the end of this heart-wrenching tale on television. I hadn’t even heard of Cecil, yet, my heart wept. I threw my shopping bags on the bed on my return to the hotel and logged on. I looked for Cecil and read his life story. The more I read, the more I hated Walter Palmer for ending the 13-year-old’s life! I wanted him to suffer…
Theo Bronkhorst, the huntsman responsible for ensuring and facilitating the kill, has just been released on bail, and he has gone on record, saying Palmer cannot be blamed for the death of Cecil. He added, “Palmer conducted and bought the hunt the legal way.”
Palmer and Bronkhorst had obtained the permit for bow hunting, they had obtained the permit for the lion from the council, although the authorities deny. The dentist from the US, who is in hiding, gave a statement, saying, “I had relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt” and “deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion”.
The Zimbabwean authorities are pushing for Palmer’s extradition and the US should really not pose any roadblock.
The high-handed American says he didn’t know it was Cecil. Does it matter? It could have been any other lion. Whether Palmer knew about Cecil or not, he was still looking to kill a lion. Killing animals for pleasure and pride is such a loathsome activity to indulge in, but the rich and the powerful don’t care.
Back home, Salman Khan is already facing a case for illegal hunting. He is powerful, so has managed to remain free. Salman Khan is accused of poaching three chinkaras and a black buck near Jodhpur in September, 1998.
Animals are not expendable. The emotional pain at being severed from his pride, the suffering endured…. we cannot fathom. A proud, majestic lion, left to succumb to his wound in the cruelest way.
Walter Palmer is not the only American who derives sadistic pleasure from gunning down wild animals in Africa. Eric and Donald Trump, Jr., Donald Trump sons, posted images of the pair smiling with their trophies: a leopard, bull, waterbuck, crocodile and even one holding a sawed off elephant’s tail next to the animal’s body.
The disgust and the instinct to remove these men from society is sometimes experience, is too strong. We will never learn the damage we have done until there is nothing left. I hope God protects the endangered animals from us.
I am experiencing a deep sense of loss because Cecil is no more. Cecil and I could never meet in life. Wish I could have seen his majestic walk and heard the sound of his roar.