It’s not about the LION, it’s about the PEOPLE


July 29, 2015 by kittynh

The internet has blown up over the horrible death of Cecil the lion.  A Minnesota dentist admits to being the “Big Game Hunter” who paid to have a “lion kill experience”.  The amount of money he was willing to pay for a KILL, was enough to tempt anyone in most of Africa to bend the rules.  That amount of money will send your children to school, feed your hungry cousins, maybe help you build your business.  A local hunter that does not deliver a kill, will soon go out of business.

How about community service?  Give back to the humans you exploited.

How about community service? Give back to the humans you exploited.

Africa has reported on this problem, but for most of us in the USA this is the first we have heard about it.  Rich Asians, Americans, Australians and Europeans fly in and basically with a wink and nudge bribe a local hunter to bend the rules.  It’s a lot of money.  I think if most of us were offered a few million to go get a black bear or puma for a hunt, even out of season, we’d be tempted by the amount of money offered.  Especially if our family was hungry or in need.  The sheer poverty of most of Africa can not be imagined by most Europeans and Americans.

This is not just about killing a lion.  This is about the generational exploitation of Africa by rich foreigners.  They come, they take the diamonds or gold and lions, and leave poverty and destitution behind.  The rich hunters know they can just fly home, and the local will be the one paying a fine or going to jail.

As you can imagine, Africa has such a very low opinion of these hunters. These are not the government sponsored hunts where big cash means money for an animal reserve or education.  This is the sleazy world where the hunter wants to pay a lot, but not as much as the state run hunts.  Instead, greed and need is what the rich tourist hunter counts on.  For a lot less money he can get a kill, and knows that the local he’s hired is desperate enough to make it happen.

It’s exploitation of humans.  It’s disrespect for humans, because the tourist is basically buying them, and then leaving them to the consequences.  He’s not going to bail out that local. He’s not going to worry about who will support that family while the father is in prison.  He won’t worry there is no economy that will take care of that family, and that he with his greed and need for a kill put them in this dangerous situation.

I dont’ agree with those putting up the name of the hunter.  He’s paying for his crime, but I’d like to see more.

I’d like him to do the opposite of exploiting Africa.  I think he would be a better person if he went over to the area where he hunted and did volunteer time as a dentist. Community service to the very people he endangered with his actions.  If he has enough money, it would be wonderful is he opened a clinic for dentistry for the poor in the area. It doesn’t cost what it costs in the US to run a dental clinic.  If he helped train locals, or paid for their training, he would bring immense help to those humans he used so callously.  I think giving back would feel so much better than the joy of the kill he writes about.

Instead of stealing heritage and basic bribery, why not give back?

Instead of stealing heritage and basic bribery, why not give back?

Africa is used to being exploited. This man exploited not just the lion, but the people.  He stole part of their heritage, just because he had the money to do so. He’s not the only one.  We don’t read African papers and little about Africa reaches the first world press. This mean is not the only one.  He just killed a much beloved lion.  The exploitation of poverty continues by rich people from first world countries.

This man could earn back the respect of others, just simply by giving back.  Redemption is possible.  I know some people would say “He should give money to wildlife conservation” but I would rather see him do something hands on. He has the skills of a dentist, he should put them to work.

It’s not just about the lion.  It’s about how first world people with money view Africa.  It’s been going on a long time, and it needs to stop.

12 thoughts on “It’s not about the LION, it’s about the PEOPLE

  1. You have put your finger on two things: it is not just the hunter who is taking an animal; it is an entire system of abuse and theft. And, there is something almost perfectly symmetrical that the hunter could do to make things right — helping the people who are harmed, directly and with his own hands, and living the experience of being immersed in their lives. Brilliant.

  2. Eliza James says:

    THANK YOU – THANK YOU so very much for your article. It IS exactly so – the money offered to many such people may not seem like much to the rich popping in from so called first world countries, but to those steeped in poverty it offers a lifeline (to another day of survival) that they cannot ignore. It is so sad that those with access to money have so little access to their hearts.

  3. […] It’s not about the LION, it’s about the PEOPLE […]

  4. Raoul Gerend says:

    You may be absolutely right about almost everything you write here but it is your anthropocentric view that I disapprove of. Sure enough, there are many people out there who are not even involved in protecting wildlife, yet cry out when one iconic specimen is killed (though I also loathe the very way this killing was brought about). They see the individual (which is not a bad thing considering that so many people can’t even be bothered by this) when in reality it’s the fate of an entire species that is at stake. Here in Europe conservationists are talking about “rewilding”, species like the wolf that were all but lost to most parts of the continent are staging an impressive comeback, whereas Africa, the last continent with a true megafauna seems to be losing it at an unprecedented rate. So this is an issue even though there are many other pressing issues concerning humans rather than animals (I write this knowing very well that humans are just one more species of mammal) and which must of course be tackled in order to allow the African people to live their lives protected from utter misery and deprivation. But the same applies to African wildlife, there should be no reckoning up of these issues one against the other. The key to all this would be an effective control of the increase of human populations wouldn’t it? I think this American dentist who likes to stage himself as some kind of palaeolithic hunter stalking his prey in a manly way with bow and arrow is just getting what he deserves. I can see your point that while so many people are outraged at his deeds they seem to be so impassive when it comes to starving and suffering people. There certainly are reasons for this attitude. One of them seems to be biophilia, the love of all things alive (the creation if you happen to be religious) and with it the awareness that humans are about to destroy a substantial part of the species that co-exist with us on this planet. Also the fate of this lion is way less abstract, hence easier to understand, than the impersonal and seemingly random and wanton killing and destruction that happens to people and wildlife alike in so many parts of the “Third World”. So please, don’t seek a moral high ground by putting human concerns first and try to understand those who are (also) outraged by wanton acts of violence inflicted to non-human animals.

  5. Sara K Ruebling says:

    Very well spoken, but. Still hav a lot of hate and disrespect for this dentist. Can help it, m an an al .over

  6. Ben Duckworth says:

    You are partly right, but off on a couple of key points. Firstly, the Zimbabwe Government, through their National Parks organization, issue the permits/licenses to hunt all wildlife in the country. Fees for each animal killed must be paid before export permits are issued for the trophies. The one exception is for elephant. This fee must be paid PRIOR to the hunt beginning. The responsibility falls on the Guide/Professional hunter to obtain the necessary licenses and to pay the fees. If they don’t the trophies will never be permitted to leave the country. Secondly, the funds collected by National Parks for license fees help to fund the management and operation of the parks, including a sizeable force of anti-poaching officers. In all reality, it is the trophy fees that allow for the land to be set aside as a park and a place where the animals can live without the pressure of human settlement. However, hunting is not only allowed, but encouraged in the National Parks. Hunts that take place on private property still require a government license, and the landowner also collects a trophy fee for any animals killed. This allows the landowner to further manage and improve their property for wildlife habitat. Tribal lands are another common place for hunting. The tribal farmers are under constant competition/pressure from wildlife to grow their crops. They receive a trophy fee for the animals they allow to be hunted on their lands, which enables them to offset the loss of food and revenue from damaged/destroyed crops. Of more significance, the wildlife on the tribal land becomes a valuable commodity, rather than a pest, and they aren’t simply killed en masse. Hence, there is a conservation component to all of the hunting that takes place. Thirdly, every hunter who uses a Guide/Professional Hunter in Zimbabwe pours hundreds and thousands of dollars into an economy that sorely needs it. The rates for food, lodging and guiding paid to the Professional Hunters goes right back into the struggling economy, as does the money spent on shopping for souvenirs and the typical extension of the hunting trip for sightseeing.

    Sure, it would be great if the Dentist volunteered to do dental work while he was there. In fact, he very well may have in many or all of his previous trips. I can guarantee that he and hundreds of others like him who have visited Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, and the like for hunting trips, brought a significant amount of items such as clothing, healthcare items, personal hygiene items, and medical supplies for donation. It is a very common practice to give back to the native people who host us in their country.

    Lastly, Cecil was indeed, much beloved, but not by the Africans; but, by the rest of the world. In Africa, lions, leopards, crocodiles and the like are viewed as vermin and actively killed by the native people. If they could rid their Country of all of these, including elephants and hippos, they would be much happier. So, feel free to shed a tear for Cecil. Opine the resource loss for Africa. But to think that anyone was exploited by the killing of Cecil is merely sensationalism.

    • “every hunter who uses a Guide/Professional Hunter in Zimbabwe pours hundreds and thousands of dollars into an economy that sorely needs”

      Your post reads as if it is right out of a trophy hunter company pr department. Zimbabwe is one of the POOREST countries in African Depending on which study you look at the average annual wage of a Zimbabwean is between $150.and $1.25 a day. Part of this is due to the fact that when they reclaimed the farmland from the whites in 2000 they gave to to people who knew nothing about farming, sending the country into a tailspin. Having lived in Africa and spent time in Zimbabwe, I can tell you no business gets done like you put forth.I can also tell you without a doubt that the Zimbabwean government is one of the most corrupt in Africa which says a lot, It’s worth noting that in Zimbabwe corruption filters down to the lowest levels of exploitation. For example Zimbabwe is one of the seven countries that supports illegal elephant poaching. As for those services you mentioned, most of them aren’t owned and operated by locals. as It’s pretty hard to own a charter air service when you’re making $150 a year. As for shopping for souvenirs again laughable, it’s not like they go into down and stroll down the open market to by $10 trinkets, They come for one and only souvenir, . . .

  7. TM says:

    According to reports I have read this week, almost none of the fees help local people or economies. The governments are allowing themselves to be exploited by white big game hunters who thrill in killing animals that are being hunted to extinction. They don’t care about conservation because it’s Africa. The fees don’t do much for the parks, either. Supposedly, there is a lot of corruption. People who support these hunts are selfish and hate wildlife and our planet. They kill these animals to support their own drives to kill and nothing more. It’s disgusting and aming the lowest forms of human behaviour.

  8. dave stedman says:

    Several questions here
    – exploitation,
    – greed
    – an artificial link between conservation and hunting.

    We have people willing to exploit the vulnerable and desperate who see this as a means of earning a living and surviving, It is NO DIFFERENT to rhino poaching. Those at the bottom take all the risks – including imprisonment and death – the middle men make monry and those at the top make even more out of misery.

    Greed – those that act as ‘go-betweens’ linking the killer and the trackers. Make no mistake the tracker is making a pittance compared to the go-between.

    The tenuous artificial link between hunting and conservation. Why make a cruel senseless sport and the saviour of species? Find ANOTHER way of funding conservation.

    • kittynh says:

      I especially approve of your last sentence. Oddly, on FB the only friend I have that highly defended the dentist, and did a bit about the “noble and ancient tradition of hunting” is a well to do NY millionaire. He’s normally fairly liberal, or a mix of liberal and libertarian, but I came to realize that for many rich people, this is something ONLY THEY CAN DO. It has special status and meaning. Like the people that buy modern art for silly sums (see the book about the 15 Million Dollar Stuffed Shark), it’s more “I can afford to do this, you can’t” than anything else.

  9. Ben Duckworth says:

    Now that the hysteria has abated, let’s stop to consider which of the non-hunting commentators has donated anything besides words to conserve wildlife here, or anywhere, in the world? Have your words saved any animal, acquired/preserved any habitat, or stopped any poachers from plying their trade? Put your money or time where your mouth is and actually DO something to help the wildlife your claim to be so passionate about.

    • kittynh says:

      well considering my daughter lives in South Africa and supports a maternity home for poor mothers, which before she supported it had to send some babies home in newspapers… and now each child has a proper blanket and clothing made locally… she’s supporting an industry for humans, which means the parents have good jobs. It’s a sort of trickle down. Sadly this hunting only seems to helps a small group of people, not large groups. Our entire family is part of this supportive effort. Though I do own some land that will be donated as part of a conservancy when I die. I could develop it, sell it, whatever, but I bought it to keep it from being developed as part of a group effort to save wildlife locally. Now you get to tell us what YOU DO? Please!

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