via Govt urged to ban trophy hunting – The Zimbabwean 30 July 2015
The chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), Johnny Rodrigues, has urged government to ban trophy hunting so as to protect endangered species.
The call comes in the wake of the recent killing of a prized lion, Cecil, in the Hwange game reserve.
An American dentist, Walter Palmer, allegedly killed the collared animal using a bow and arrow, subsequently tracking Cecil for some 40 hours before finishing him off with a hunting gun bullet.
Two men have already appeared in court facing poaching charges but Palmer, from Minnesota in the US, is reportedly in hiding.
He has issued a statement apologising for the killing of 13 year-old Cecil, a favourite with tourists, but insists he did nothing wrong as he had a hunting permit and was not aware that the celebrated cat was collared.
“What happened to Cecil clearly lends weight to the call for the banning of trophy hunting. Government must act fast on this otherwise all endangered wildlife and prized animals will become extinct,” Rodrigues told The Zimbabwean.
“We run the danger of all lions being dead by 2050. In southern Africa, only 22,000 lions are left, from some 80,000 several years ago. This goes to show how fast lions are being decimated,” the animal rights leader said.
Rodrigues dismissed the widely held notion that treasure hunting benefited local communities.
“It is a myth. Only landowners and the hunters are the ones that reap rewards and hardly anything goes to local communities. Trophy hunting is therefore elitist yet animals like Cecil are crucial in attracting tourists if they are protected,” he added.
The killing of Cecil has attracted an international outcry, with American citizens besieging Palmer’s surgery in the US in protest while bloggers have been calling for a harsh sentence against him if arrested and tried.
Palmer is said to have paid local hunters some $50,000 for Cecil, which was beheaded and skinned when it died. The killing of the big cat has also exposed government laxity in protecting treasured animals.
Cecil was the subject of a long-drawn research at Oxford University and Rodrigues described him as “invaluable”. “There will be no other animal to replace him. The loss is too huge,” he said about the distinctly maned lion.
Cecil was spotted around 2009 while drinking at a watering hole called Magisihole Pan on the southern boundary of Hwange game park and was widely considered friendly.