The lion and the tip of the iceberg

Last month the collective moral sense of the world was outraged when an American dentist poached a lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe.

Last month the collective moral sense of the world was outraged when an American dentist poached a lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe. Apparently, the dentist, Walter Palmer, paid a guide to lure Cecil out of a nature or scientific preserve in order to kill Cecil. The main motivating factor for Cecil’s shooting was a trophy hunt.

Wait a minute. This writer made one mistake in the paragraph above. Can you spot it? Cecil was not, in reality, poached. He was, as far as this writer can determine, legally shot. Palmer’s guide even insists it was not technically illegal to lure Cecil out of the research area.

Hunting lions for sport in Africa is not illegal, and lions are not endangered; one American university lists the African lion as “threatened,” and says they could be extinct by 2050. Some organizations with a vested interest (millions of dollars in grants and donations to global wildlife charities) stir up emotions and give a general impression that animals like the lion are on the brink of extermination, but the evidence they present, if they present any evidence at all, isn’t necessarily convincing. While such groups continue to collect millions of dollars in donations, some animals such as the rhinoceros, actually do face extinction in Africa. So what are these millions of dollars being used for? They obviously didn’t save Cecil’s life.

But perhaps the most disturbing fact about Cecil’s death is the celebrity-driven move to have trophy hunting outlawed. A number of airlines are now banning the transport of certain kinds of trophy animals in an effort to improve their public appearance. Oh, and help preserve wildlife too, of course.

Trophy hunting is common and legal in Canada too. This writer spoke to fish and wildlife officers in the Rocky Mountain House area  few year ago who described big game hunters from the Maritimes who were willing to pay $25,000 to an outfitter, or professional hunting guide, to shoot an elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goat or other wildlife in order to have the skin glued to a plastic frame, making the entire object suitable for display.

Is this deserving of outrage? No, and why should it? There is nothing illegal about the practice, and all of the publicity surrounding Cecil’s death should either be channeled into protecting animals in the world that really are endangered like the addax, the mountain gorilla, the California condor or the kakapo, or should be channeled into an effort to make trophy hunting of lions in Africa illegal. And institute punishments that stick, including punishments on corrupt government officials who accept bribes to look the other way when criminal organizations, for example, hunt animals such as the rhinoceros almost to extinction.

It’s very difficult to avoid cynicism over something like Cecil’s death, when Hollywood celebrities, wildlife charities and airlines line up to take advantage of the incident, rather than focusing their efforts on something that could have a tangible benefit in the real world.

Stu Salkeld is the new editor of The Leduc/Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Another new high: Red Deer hits 574 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports 13 new COVID-19 deaths, 430 new cases

Maskwacis RCMP regular members, Community Tripartite Agreement (CTA) members and support staff proudly wore pink in support of Pink Shirt Day on Feb. 24, 2021. Supplied/ Maskwacis RCMP.
Maskwacis RCMP embraces Pink Shirt Day

Maskwacis RCMP engage in virtual presentations with schools on anti-bullying for Pink Shirt Day.

Minister Rick Wilson poses with Katie at the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin, both wearing her Pink Shirt Day design. Facebook/ Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin.
Be kind and wear pink for Pink Shirt Day

Katie with the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin created this year’s Pink Shirt Day design.

Black Press File Photo
Valentine’s Day shooting in Maskwacis leaves one male in hospital, one male in custody

19-year-old Francis Edward Nepoose from Maskwacis has been charged with attempted murder.

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 11 additional deaths over the past 24 hours. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta
Red Deer active COVID-19 cases drop slightly

Province reports 267 additional COVID-19 cases, 11 new deaths

Bookings for COVID-19 vaccines for people age 75 or older start Wednesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Updated: Delays for seniors booking for vaccine appointments

By 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, 4,500 seniors had booked their appointments

Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Anne Kirker is expected to sentence Satnam Singh Sandhu on Friday. Red Deer Advocate file photo
Updated: Sylvan Lake man pleads guilty to manslaughter for strangling wife in 2019

Kulvinder Sandhu was strangled and died in hospital several days later

Sentencing delayed in the stabbing death of Samantha Sharpe, of Sunchild First Nation. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Central Alberta man not criminally responsible for killing his father in 2020: judge

Psychiatrist testified Nicholas Johnson was psychotic when he killed his father

The cover of “Hometown Asylum: A History and Memoir of Institutional Care.” (Submitted)
Ponoka-born author writes history of old mental hospital

“Hometown Asylum: A History and Memoir of Institutional Care” covers 1911 to 1971

Todd Hirsch. (Image: screenshot)
ATB vice president gives financial forecast to Ponoka chamber

Predictions for reopening of the economy and recovery outlined

Meteor spotted over Edmonton, Alta., on Feb. 22, 2021 by several, who took to social media to share their surveillance camera captures. (@KixxAxe/Twitter)
VIDEO: Fireball meteor streaks across sky, spotted by early-morning risers in Alberta, B.C.

Videos of the quick streak of light flashing across the sky before 6:30 a.m. MST

(Canada Post-Special To The News)
Ontario Canada Post worksite hit by major virus outbreak excluded from inspections

Just this year more than 300 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and one person has died

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH. (Pool/Getty Images/TNS)
Possibility of wearing masks into 2022 to defeat COVID-19: Dr. Fauci

Despite getting vaccinated, masks will be essential

Sarah Palmer holds up a swab before administering a COVID-19 test in late December. The state announced on Tuesday that a variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 had been detected in Alaska for the first time. (Photo by Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
Canada’s ‘long-haulers’ without family doctor need primary care: medical association

At least 10 per cent of COVID-19 patients are believed to suffer from symptoms months after their diagnosis

Most Read